By Andy Harris
Not many people will be familiar with the name Fukidashi Park, but this secluded spot with its endless supply of icy cold volcanic spring water is the perfect place for a stop on a warm summer day, when travelling through southwest Hokkaido. The park is located on the eastern slopes of Mount Yotei and is approximately an hour south of Sapporo by car on route 478.
A huge amount of money has been spent creating a beautiful area with easy access for both locals and tourists while taking great care with the surrounding land to ensure the quality of the water always remains high.
When first entering the park you will be greeted by playground for young children and a small selection of shops selling local food, drinks and 20 litre water containers. A small walk over the wooden suspension bridge and you will find yourself at the entrance to the natural spring site. A beautiful stream of some of the freshest mineral water you will find anywhere in the world. There are many ways of collecting water from the spring including, pipes coming strait from the rock face or bamboo shoots fed directly from the pool.
Once your water bottles are filled you can begin to explore the park. An easy going footpath has been created that flows along the outside of the lake and has connecting bridges that spans over the river. A small pagoda sits beside the lake which gives some welcome shade and is in an ideal location for viewing the surrounding woodland. There is a variety of wildlife that can be spotted in the area including many species of birds, freshwater carp, insects and even snakes if you are lucky enough.
There are a number of great spots for photographs including a cascade of water rushing from the volcano slopes and a series of piled rocks with water bubbling out the top creating many miniature waterfalls on its sides. If you are feeling energetic then the park is also a gateway to a hiking trail that will take you to the peak of the famous Mt Yotei.