Hokkaido Adventure: Mountain Biking in Sapporo’s Nature Haven



 Sapporo is the buzzing capital of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. The city is known for its gourmet, shopping, and nightlife, but did you know that its mountainous southern part covered with lush forest is a part of the Toya-Shikotsu nature park and is a nature lover’s paradise? If you’re a thrill-seeker and love outdoor adventures, then navigating the rugged terrain of southern Sapporo through mountain biking should definitely be on your bucket list!

 Mountain biking is an exciting way to stay fit, have adventures, and connect with the natural world. Going off-road gives you a break from traffic and lets you explore nature through dirt roads, beautiful trails, or challenging terrain. Whether you’re near mountains or not, mountain biking offers a variety of paths—from easy woodland trails to thrilling technical singletracks.

 Sapporo’s Minami ward, located in the southern part of the city, offers an abundance of natural beauty and diverse terrains that make it a prime location for mountain biking enthusiasts. The Minami ward is characterized by its mountains, forest trails, and picturesque landscapes. The area’s rich natural beauty is a testament to the flourishing ecosystem in and around Sapporo.

 In this blog post, you can read about the mountain biking (MTB) community in Sapporo’s Minami ward and the best mountain biking trails in the area.

Sapporo, the city of abundant nature

 Sapporo is the largest city in Hokkaido and is known for its urban amenities. The city is an international metropolis mixing new and old architecture, with surprisingly many places to enjoy nature within the city. There are numerous parks, such as Nakajima Park in central Sapporo and Moerenuma Park in northeastern Sapporo, as well as the beautiful Hokkaido University campus with its tree-lined paths. Just a short distance away from the bustling city center lies Minami ward, where nature takes center stage further south you proceed.

 The southern Sapporo is especially famous for Jozankei Onsen Town, a popular hot spring resort nestled in the mountains. Japanese people have a centuries-old tradition of relaxing in onsen hot springs but they also offer healing properties due to their different mineral contents. In Jozankei, there’s an array of onsen baths and several different levels of onsen hotels and inns from luxurious high-level hotels to cozy and nostalgic inns to choose from. By the way, soaking in a steaming hot onsen bath after a thrilling mountain bike ride is the perfect way to relax and rejuvenate your body.

 Jozankei is not just an onsen town but it’s part of the Shikotsu–Toya National Park. The park consists of five areas: The area around Lake Shikotsu, the area around Lake Toya, the area around Noboribetsu Onsen Town, Mt. Yotei and its surroundings, and of course the area around Jozankei. The national park gathers together areas that have unique geological features related to volcanic activity, rich biodiversity, and stunning landscapes. Both of the lakes in the national park are caldera lakes, Mt. Yotei is a dormant volcano, and both Noboribetsu and Jozankei are known for their hot springs. Jozankei also has a beautiful river flowing through the town, offering scenic views and a peaceful atmosphere. Here you have a good chance to meet some of the cute critters dwellling in the forests and mountains, too.

 You can read more about Sapporo in general in our older blog posts Sapporo: The Capital City of Hokkaido and Sapporo: A Metropolis Close to Nature, about the natural beauty of the city, for example, in Sapporo: The City of Spectacular Fall Leaves and Sapporo: The City of the Fleeting Cherry Blossoms,  and also about thrilling activities the city of Sapporo offers to travelers in Sapporo: A Green City that Embraces Sustainable Tourism, Sapporo: The City of Seasonal Festivals, Sapporo: Winter Festivals with Snow Sculptures and Christmas Decorations and From Snow Festival to smelt fishing: Sapporo’s unique, magical and fun winter activities. If you want to browse all the travel blog posts we have published about Sapporo, you can do it here: Hokkaido Treasure Island Travel’s blog posts about Sapporo.

The mountain biking community in Sapporo

 Hokkaido Treasure Island Travel works with local travel guides and companies to provide a variety of activities to visitors. One of our partners for mountain biking is Ezobike, a local company based in Sapporo. Ezobike offers mountain biking lessons at Jozankei, a mountainous region located south of Sapporo. However, Ezobike offers more than just lessons. It has managed to create a community of bike enthusiasts who gather together in the bike park to enjoy biking adventures. For instance, the community organizes a Funduro Race (Fun Endurance Race), which is a speed competition but is done in a relaxed and fun way. Riders of all levels are welcome to participate and experience the adrenaline rush of racing while surrounded by breathtaking scenery.

 The Ezobike community not only provides thrilling mountain biking experiences but also fosters a sense of camaraderie and connection among its members through various social events and activities. These activities help to create a strong community bond among the members of Ezobike, and it gives an opportunity for visitors to engage with the local culture and forge lasting friendships with fellow mountain biking enthusiasts. For example, after MBT lessons, the participants sometimes bake sweet potatoes together or enjoy fireworks. Additionally, the Ezobike community hosts the Ezo Community Marche, a market that brings local companies together and allows community members to purchase various products. Participants in the Ezo Community Marche include bakeries, artisans, and other vendors who sell bread, pastries, honey, coffee, tote bags, accessories, soap, and more. All the activities are preferably held outdoors, and sometimes the focus is just on enjoying nature without any reference to mountain biking, such as mushroom picking in the forest.

 The Ezobike community has five missions that they aim to accomplish:

(1) Improve basic metabolism and autonomic nervous system by playing outdoors

(2) Raise awareness of the natural environment

(3) Acquire skills of survival and play

(4) Multi-generational interaction and a diverse society

(5) Spread mountain bike sports

 The first mission is related to the fact that today both adults and children spend a lot of time indoors and sitting still. A sedentary lifestyle can cause many health problems, but moving about and playing outside can improve our metabolism and the function of our brain and nervous system. Mountain biking is an excellent way to combine exercise with fun and play. The second mission, raising awareness of the natural environment, is to remind us all that without clean nature, we can’t enjoy outdoor activities either, and make people cherish the natural environment. The third mission is to teach everyone how to prepare for future pandemics or natural disasters, for example, by learning survival skills and teaching the kids how to play in the local nature with the things close to hand.

 The fourth mission is to increase the acceptance of people of different ages and to create a more diverse society. To revive the good old days of mutual support in the community, they call the Ezobike field a ’village’ or ’park,’ and are thankful for each other’s presence. Everyone at Ezobike will continue to build a community where people feel happy to live there and want to live there in the future as well. The fifth mission is of course to make more people engage in mountain biking in Japan. Mountain biking not only improves your athletic skills and maintains your health but also helps to develop concentration, imagination, and decision-making skills.

Mountain biking (MTB) in Sapporo’s Minami ward

 Our collaborator Ezobike arranges North American style MTB lessons and tours in Sapporo’s Minami ward at Jozankei. These lessons are suitable for all levels of experience from beginners to advanced levels; the lessons are tailored to the customers’ needs and previous experience with mountain biking. Children can also take part in this activity and there is a variety of trails for both beginners and experts.



 At the bike park (an outbound link, in Japanese only), the bikers can enjoy for example the Pump Track, which is a place to practice at your own pace before entering the mountain trails, to improve jumping and speed control skills, or just to have fun riding the bumpy paths. The Pump track is especially popular among kids. The Green Trail is a mountain trail designed for first-timers, novices, and beginners. The trails are flat and straight, and the curves have fillers to make them easier to turn. Here you can enjoy the mountain trails safely even if you are a first-timer. The Blue Trail and the trails of more difficult levels are also available at the bike park. These trails take advantage of the natural features and contours of the terrain and are meant for riders on intermediate level and above. The trail development is actively underway, and there are various trails in blue, red, black, and other colors. These trails go through narrow spaces between trees, and have thick roots, jumps, and drops (stair-like steps), so you can test your biking skills here!

 You don’t need any special equipment to participate in MTB activity but you need to wear comfortable clothes that can’t get stuck in tree branches etc., which means you need to wear pants and sturdy shoes (not for example a skirt and sandals). Bring also your water bottle, because there is a spring with delicious water! When it comes to the required biking skills, the participants need to be able to control a bicycle without assistance wheels and ride standing up. The rental bikes go from 16 inches up, so children starting from 4-5 years of age can participate.

Enjoy the best parts of city life and nature at Sapporo

 Sapporo is a diverse city that offers something for everyone: Good food for gourmands, vibrant nightlife for partygoers, and intriguing activities in the forests and mountains for nature lovers. In Sapporo, those activities can include mountain biking, just like explained in this blog post. You can rarely reach natural forests in about 30 minutes from downtown a busy city of about 2 million inhabitants like Sapporo. That’s why mountain biking in a fully natural environment of lush forests and soaring mountains just on the outskirts of Sapporo is a rare thing to experience.

 In this blog post, we introduced the Ezobike mountain biking community of Sapporo and what kind of fun activities they have to offer. What happens next is up to you: You can send us a travel inquiry for a custom-made Hokkaido itinerary now or find more travel inspiration on our Hokkaido Treasure Island Travel blog or Hokkaido sample itineraries. Like always, you can contact us by clicking the ’contact us’ button below.