But snow wasn’t what brought the first people to the area. It was the hot thermal springs which contain various minerals. There are four accommodations that sit perched by the roadside between
1,000 and 1,350 meters, each with their own spring. At the top of the road there is Ryounkaku, also known as Tokachidake Onsen, owned by the Aida family. It was their grandfather who founded the
He spent three years laboriously searching for spring water. When he finally found its source, he spent another few years hauling the materials by horseback up the road to build the first hotel
building. Behind Ryounkaku’s hotel reception, Aida san’s portrait sits on the wall. His great grandchildren now play under his stately gaze, and the legacy that he created will likely extend for
generations, as is the tradition in Japan.