The Jozan-kei-onsen Hot Spring is located
to the southwest of Sapporo in a ravine
situated upstream along the Toyohira-gawa
River. Called "Sapporo's back parlor," the
spa is surrounded by mountains. It was
discovered by a monk called Jozan, and was
named after him for the efforts he made to
develop it. The spa is known for its
plentiful waters, some 200,000 liters of
which flow every hour. The waters contain
a large variety of minerals, including
boric acid, sulfur and salt.
The symbol of Jozan Valley is the water sprite known as a 'kappa.' A kappa is an imaginary Japanese creature that lives both on land and in water. It is a funny- shaped hobgoblin, with a plate on its head, webbed hands and feet, and a pointed mouth. It became the guardian spirit of this place as the result of a legend about a young boy who is supposed to have been taken off to the land of the kappa, where he lived happily. Over 20 kappa statues stand in various poses around the spa town, including the "Great Kappa King." There is also a Kappa Pool, which becomes very lively during the Kappa Festival that takes place in early August.
There are plenty of facilities for visitors nearby, such as the nature walkway alongside the ravine and the Sapporo International Ski Resort. Jozan Valley is also a hub for tourists going over the Nakayama-toge Pass to Lake Toya- ko, and the town is lively throughout the year.