You can forgo the cable car and chairlift up Mount Kurodake and hike instead; plan on the entire day up and back. Or, for a short hike, forgo the chairlift on Mount Kurodake and hike about 1 hour from the fifth stage (where the chairlift begins) to the seventh stage (where the chairlift ends). If you're prepared to exert yourself climbing over boulders, however, the most rewarding journey is the 1 1/2-hour hike from the seventh stage onward to the peak of Kurodake, 1,950m (6,500 ft.) high. There, if the weather is clear, you'll be greeted with views of the surrounding mountain ranges. If you feel like taking a day hike, there's a circular path along the top of mountain ridges that you can hike in about 8 hours. Be sure to note lift operating hours before setting out. Note: If you plan on hiking past the seventh stage, you must first check in at the hut to the left of where the chairlift ends, where you sign your name and give your route so that tabs can be kept on you while on the mountain (hiking from here is recommended only in July-Aug, as snow can cover the ground other months of the year). Hiking boots are recommended, but you can also rent rubber boots here for ¥500, a must if you don't have hiking boots because trails are slippery and wet (small streams from winter snows cascade down the trail even in July). Note, however, that rental sizes only go up to 28 centimeters (12 in.).
As for other hiking possibilities, across the highway and river from Sounkyo Spa is the Panoramadai hiking course, where you can hike to a panoramic lookout in about an hour. Past the Taisetsu Hotel above Sounkyo Spa is the Momidijani Course, which takes about 1-hour round-trip and follows a mountain stream to a waterfall.
For more information on these and other hiking trips, stop by the Daisetsuzan National Park Visitor Center.
From November to March, Mount Kurodake becomes a skier's haven, with beginner-to-intermediate slopes. Although you can rent skis up on the mountain at the cable-car station, keep in mind that your feet may be too big (at last check, boots went up to 28cm/12 in.). Skis and boots rent for ¥3,000, while a 1-day cable-car and chairlift ticket goes for ¥3,700.
Taking the Waters
In the village Community Center, you'll find Kurodake-no-yu (tel. 01658/5-3333), a public hot-spring bath with large, spotless, and attractive indoor and outdoor baths plus a sauna. The spa charges ¥600 for adults (half-price for children) and is open daily 10am to 9pm (closed Wed Nov-Apr, except during Ice Festival). Buy your tickets at the entrance's vending machine.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.