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Daisetsuzan National Park

Land area: 226,764 ha
Designated on December 4, 1934

Photo: Daisetsuzan

Daisetsuzan National Park is the largest national park in Japan. It has many attractions such as active volcanoes which are still fuming smoke, and beautiful lakes and forests.
The rich natural environment in this area provides a home to a variety of animals and plants. The park is also known as the habitat of pikas, a relict species from the ice age.

Alpine Park which Is Called the "Roof of Hokkaido"

Map: Daisetsuzan

Daisetsuzan National Park is located in a mountainous area in the center of Hokkaido which is called the "Roof of Hokkaido". It is the largest national park in Japan and the whole park area is covered with subarctic natural forests, which give it primeval looks.
The park has several mountain chains including some volcanic groups such as the Daisetsuzan Mountain Range. As the area is very large, the upper reaches of some major rivers in Hokkaido, such as the Ishikarigawa River and the Tokachigawa River, are included in the park.
The Daisetsuzan Mountain Range is a compound volcano which consists of Mt. Asahidake (2,290 m), the highest mountain in Hokkaido, and other volcanoes of 2,000 m above sea level. From Mt. Asahidake, volcanic smoke is still rising. While these mountains are not as high as those in the central part of the main island, the climate is much colder as they are located at a higher latitude. Periglacial landforms such as permafrost can be seen. On the south side of the mountains, there are lava plateaus with swamps. This area enjoys beautiful and diverse landscapes that include grasslands and rocky fields.
Mt. Tokachidake (2,077 m), which towers over the south side of the park, is the core of the Tokachi Volcano Group. It has a record of eruptions in recent years and is still fuming. Many of the mountains here are in conical shape and look like typical volcanoes. The scenery of these volcanoes is one of the attractions of this park. Mt. Furanodake (1,912 m) at the south end of the volcano group is especially rich in alpine plants and their beauty is widely known in Japan.
In the eastern part of the park, there is a range of steep non-volcanic mountains.
The park also has many scenic rivers and there are two famous ravines up the Ishikarigawa River. Sounkyo Gorge is a very beautiful ravine with several waterfalls including the Ryuseinotaki (meteor) and Ginganotaki (galaxy) Waterfalls. The other is Tenninkyo Gorge. It has a sublime atmosphere and the Hagoromonotaki Waterfall, whose name means the costume of a celestial nymph, in the ravine is very famous.

Relict Animals and Plants from the Ice Age

The vegetation in the mountain area is characterized by mixed forests of coniferous and broad-leaved trees. It changes as the altitude becomes higher and communities of alpine and swamp plants can be seen in high mountains. In particular, alpine plant communities in this area are large in both scale and variety. The park is really a natural treasure trove. The park is also the home of many indigenous alpine butterflies and other rare insects.
There are many kinds of animals and the habitat density of brown bears and Ezo shika deer is high. The most unique animal found in the park is the pika, an endangered animal which is known to be a relict species from the ice age. The area is valued as their habitat. They fascinate visitors not only because of their primitive features and rareness, but also their small, pretty appearance and lovely chattering.

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