Soun-kyo Gorge

Soun-kyo Gorge

Travel Guide


Soun-kyo Gorge is a range of gorges located in Kamikawa, Hokkaido. Situated in the Daisetsuzan National Park, the area is known for its hotels and hot springs as well as waterfalls and magnificent cliffs scenery. The term Soun-kyo Gorge means respectively the layer, cloud and gorge in Japanese, and the origin of the name is a word Souunbetsu in Ainu language, which means the river with many waterfalls.

It is said that Soun-kyo Gorge was first discovered by Ainu people that is the indigenous of Hokkaido. The saying goes that when they were hunting along the Ishikari River, they ran after a brown bear till they climbed up the alpine zone of Mount Taisetsu-zan.

The geography of the gorge and surrounding area were formed by the eruption of Daisetsuzan Volcanic Group, which was occurred around 30,000 years ago. Mt. Daisetsuzan is called the roof of Hokkaido. The welded tuff was piled up after the eruption, and it was gradually eroded by the water of the Ishikari River, which currently streams between gorges. Thus, ragged steep cliffs in Soun-kyo Gorge were shaped, which range over 24 kilometres, and have a number of joints around 200 metres in height.

In 1957, stores and hotels located in the areas surrounding Soun-kyo Gorge were relocated to Soun-kyo Gorge under the order of the Kamikawa government. They became the origin of the Sounkyo Hot Spring Resort. This was a part of the plan to arrange Kamikawa town by the government, and the resort has thrived with many hotels and souvenir shops, formerly constructed for mountaineers, although later they have decayed due to the other resorts in Hokkaido such as Shiretoko.

The Obako and Kobako rock formations are said to be the most beautiful places in the gorge. Obako features wide rock faces that resemble 'byobu' (folding screens), while Kobako has many fantastic crags. You can rent bicycles there.


The gorge is known not only for its hot springs, hotel resorts and Obako/Kobako but also for its natural scenery and attractions.

Kurodake Ski area

You can enjoy the dynamic mountain skiing in early November at Kurodake ski area. And it has the longest skiing season in Japan.

Sounkyo Visitor Center

The center is near the hot spring resorts. It provides some directions and information about experiencing the nature and learning the nature. At the same time center also provides activities to preserve the natural environment.


Altitude 1,984m. You can enjoy the great outdoors, such as alpine plants, foliage, and alpine skiing. You can enjoy different nature fun with the changing of the seasons.

Sounkyo ropeway

If you change from the Sounkyo Ropeway to the Kuro-dake Lift, you can climb to a height of 1,700 meters (7 Goume, 70% of the height of the mountain) and enjoy a magnificent view of Mt. Daisetsuzan.

Ryusei and Ginga Waterfalls
The gorge contains lots of waterfalls, of which the Ryusei Waterfall (Waterfall of Meteor) and Ginga Waterfall (Waterfall of Ginga ) are especially worth seeing. Ryusei Waterfall and Ginga Waterfall were selected as one of the top 100 waterfalls in Japan. At both of these waterfalls, the water falls directly over the cliff, giving them a sense of great power.

Walkway of Momijidani

In the foliage season, it is the best place of appreciating the foliage. About 30 minutes’ walk, you can reach the waterfall of foliage.

Ice pavilion

The world's first and biggest pavilion! This experiencing art gallery has the unique theme as ice and coldness which corresponds with the characteristic of Hokkaido. Pillar of ice stands like a large forest, you can experience the icy world of at least minus 41 degrees.

Garden of the Taisetsu forest

Garden of the Taisetsu forest is extensive countryside surrounded by the peaks of the Taisetsu mountain and Niseikaushuppe forest. It is a hidden beauty spot of Hokkaido in Asahigaoka Taisetsu plateau.

Soun-kyo Gorge Soun-kyo Gorge - Obako Soun-kyo Gorge - Hiking trail
Soun-kyo Gorge Obako Hiking trail

Travel Advice


- It is recommeded to visit Ryusei and Ginga Waterfalls when you visit the Sounkyo Hot Spring to see the fabulous waterfalls since it is not too far from the the shopping street of Sounkyo Hot Spring, it takes 30 minutes on foot or 5 minutes by car.

Autumn Leaves

Soun-kyo Gorge is a spot to see autumn leaves. Please see Autum Leaves in Soun-kyo Gorge.


Events in 2019
Sounkyo Fire Festival Ainu traditional ceremony which prays for bumper crop. The festival will be performing ainu traditional dance, Himatsuri-drum-beat, religious services of owl and the display of fireworks. Aug 1(Thu) to 13(Tue)
Events in 2020
Ice Festival Many ice statues and objects are colourfully illuminated, and fireworks are displayed on weekends. Events held include a dance of the Ainu, Yosakoi Soran team, and taiko. Jan 23(Thu) to
Mar 15(Sun)
Flower Story The whole shopping street will be full of flowers with a giant flower bed in the center of the shopping street and flower pots displayed by every hotel and shop. late Jun to
early Oct


Address Sounkyo, Kamikawa-cho, Hokkaido
Phone 01658-2-1811(Sounkyo Tourist Assosiation)
Admission Free  
Hours Free time  
Closed Open 7 Days a Week
Duration 30 minutes
Getting There By Train
30 minutes ride by Dohoku Bus bound for Sounkyo from JR Kawakami Station to the final bus stop, then walk approximately 1 minute.

By Car
Take Asahikawa Monbetsu Expressway to Kamikawa Sounkyo exit and take National Highway route 39. It is approximately 39 kilometers 20 minutes from exit.
Parking Free parking available

Attractions in Japan