Asahikawa (旭川)  is the second-largest city on the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan.
Asahikawa Airport (AKJ) serves flights to major domestic destinations.
Asahikawa is the terminus of the JR Hakodate Main Line to Sapporo, Otaru and Hakodate.
The Super Kamui limited express service departs from Sapporo to Asahikawa every 30 minutes. The journey takes 80 minutes and costs ¥4480. This is the best way to travel between these two cities by train, as local train service is sparse and can take anywhere from three to five hours of traveling time. As the local train fare is ¥2420, you might want to take the bus unless you are on a Seishun 18 Ticket.
Hourly rapid trains from Sapporo's New Chitose Airport continue as Super Kamui trains to Asahikawa, with no transfer necessary in Sapporo; the journey takes two hours.
Many of JR's Hokkaido lines branch out from Asahikawa: the Soya Line connects to Wakkanai, while the Sekihoku Line connects to Abashiri and the Furano Line goes to skiing hotspot Furano.
Chuo Bus Service offers frequent (every 20 minutes or so) bus service from the Sapporo JR Station for ¥2000. It takes just under 2 hours.
There are some bus services to Daisetsuzan National Park.
The city has an extensive bus network. All attractions are easily reached by bus from the main train station.
Most of the sites are easily accessible by foot from the main train station, though others like the zoo, Otokoyama brewery, and the ski resorts need a bus or taxi.
- Ski resort (Kamui Ski Links, Santa Present Park, etc.)
- Arashiyama Pottery village
- Hokkaido Traditional Art Craft Village
- Romantic Road (Tree tunnel and Churches)
- Asahikawa Furniture Center
- Otokoyama sake brewing museum (男山), 2-7 Nagayama (30 min by bus Dohoku Bus from city, get off at Otokoyama Koen), ☎ 0166-48-1931, . An award-winning and the most famous sake brewery in Asahikawa. It has 340 years of history and has been portrayed in Japanese block prints ("ukiyo-e") of the Edo period. Sake tasting and purchase of special editions. edit
- Asahikawa Winter Festival, Tokiwa Park (North of the city, near the Asahibashi bridge). Second to Sapporo's snow festival in popularity, this festival attracts ice sculpture artists worldwide and hosts the largest snow sculpture in Japan. The festival is held at the start of February. edit
- Asahibashi Bridge, (follow Route 40 to the north until it meets the Ishikari river). This is one of the three most famous bridges in Hokkaido and the only one still unchanged since it was built. edit
- Asahiyama Zoo, Higashi Asahikawacho Kuranuma (Take Asahikawa Denki Kido Bus for Asahiyama Zoo at Bus Stop No.5 in front of Asahikawa train station; bus departs hourly and the ride takes about 40 minutes. There is another bus from the airport, also hourly, that takes about 35 minutes), ☎ 0166- 36-1104, . 9:30-5:15 (summer); 10:30-3:30 (winter). The most famous zoo in Japan and the second most visited. This is a small zoo with few enclosures. The star attractions include the polar bear enclosure that allows to see the bears underwater, the seal enclosure that seems that people are in the enclosure and the seals are around them, and the penguin enclosure including a glass tunnel through the pool. Entry is ¥800 and the zoo passport with unlimited visits in a season is ¥1000. The zoo is closed from April 8 to April 28 and from October 19 to November 2 for preparation for the summer and winter seasons. edit
Asahikawa is the coldest city in Japan, holding Japan's temperature record of -41°C (in 1902). It's not that bad most of the time though, and the good side to cold and snow is that there's some great skiing nearby.
Kamui Ski Links is a local favorite just west of town, and Biei and Furano are each about one hour away. Back-country options include Asahidake and Kurodake.
If you come in summer you will enjoy fine weather with maximum temperatures sometimes exceeding 30 Celsius degrees. Take advantage of the fine cycling paths following the river banks.
- Cycling path to Higashikagura, from the cycling bridge upstream of the Twin Harp bridge and following the right hand side of the Chuubetsu river upstream, between the river and endless rice fields, heading towards the imposing Taisetsu-san mountain. The path ends in a wooden hill with a pond and a camping site.
- Cycling path to Kamuikotan, from the Asahibashi bridge and following the right hand side of the Ishikarigawa river downstream, through the hills. Near the end of the path is the historical (tiny) train station Kamuikotan.
Asahikawa's main shopping area is just next to the train station, in what is called the Kaimono Koen ("shopping park"). When it was built in 1972 it became the first pedestrian-only outdoor shopping mall in Japan. The street is lined with department stores, shops and restaurants.
- Asahikawa-furniture (High-class)
- Pottery / Wooden handiwork (Arashiyama area)
- Seibu, (At the beginning of Kaimono Koen, just opposite the train station). This is the largest and most centric department store in Asahikawa. Buy groceries or sweets at the basement, or clothes and other products in the upper floors, or have lunch at the eating places at the top floor. edit
Asahikawa is known as one of Japan's gourmet towns, and despite its small size, contains many restaurants of nearly every description. Many restaurants are clustered in the Kaimono Koen (Shopping District Park) area, in front of the JR station. This makes touring a number of restaurants on foot a viable option for a day trip.
Asahikawa's ramen noodles are nationally famous, with shoyu (soy sauce) being the flavor of choice.
- Asahikawa Ramen Village (Ramen-mura). Eight of Asahikawa's greatest ramen shops in one combined outlet.
- Santouka (山頭火), (From the kaimono koen, turn right at the narrow street that divides the two Seibu department store buildings. The shop is at the next junction, on the left hand side), ☎ 0166 25-3401. 11:00-22:00. The original shop of a very popular ramen shop that has opened several branches in Tokyo and overseas. Try their soy ramen for ¥800. (43.76473,142.36035) edit
Asahikawa also contains a large variety of ethnic restaurants.
- Asahikawa mutton barbecue「Genghis Khan」
- You can also enjoy dairy products (milk, cheese, butter, chocolate and ice cream), seafood (especially as sushi), fruits (honeydew melon, strawberries) and meat (sausages, ham, bacon and beef).
Asahikawa is famous for its sake, especially Otokoyama (男山, lit. "man mountain"), which is probably Hokkaido's best-known label. Other local sakes include Takasago (高砂) and Taisetsu no Kura (大雪の蔵). Beer fans will wish to look for the local Taisetsu microbrew.
- Chico's Pub, . Foreign beers, pub-grub, local info, and some friendly faces. In summer, outdoor tables are set out so you can enjoy the numerous festivals at their streetside location.
There is a hotel booking service at the railway station.
Being in the center of Hokkaido, Asahikawa is a good base to explore other parts of the island.
- Furano is a village set in a picturesque landscape that is often used in Japanese dramas and advertisements about quite, rural life in Japan. A popular way to travel between Asahikawa and Furano is the Norokko-go, an old style locomotive that runs purposedly at a very slow speed.
- Sounkyo Gorge and Asahidake at the Daisetsuzan National Park, with very popular onsens and fine mountain hiking.