Given its location deep in a national park and a name meaning Cloudy Gorge, for many visitors the actual Sounkyo Onsen is a disappointment. The curse of development is indeed evident: the modern town with its multi-storey concrete hotels is an eyesore, and the endless procession of tour groups through the gorge itself doesn't exactly enhance the wonders of nature.
That said, with lowered expectations Sounkyo Onsen does fulfill what it promises: it's first and foremost a hot spring resort, with cool mountain air and steam rising from the vents in the streets, and it's an excellent base for starting (or, better yet, ending) treks through the national park. Much of the center of the town has also been recently landscaped with a fairly pleasant, mildly Swiss-flavored touch.
Eat & Drink
There are a number of basic restaurants in town.
- Ajikko Ramen (味っ子ラーメン), in the center of town, serves up a pretty good bowl of noodles. Try their artery-clogging Hokkaido speciality butter ramen!
- The local microbrew, Hokutō Kōgen Beer (北斗高原ビール), is the perfect thirst-quencher after lolling about in hot water for an hour or two.