The Oze National park, which is located not too far from Tokyo, stretches across four prefectures: Gunma, Fukushima, Niigata and Tochigi. The park is famous for its large marshland surrounded by mountains. To protect its fragile vegetation from human traffic, the park features an extensive network of boardwalks which makes for a easy hike and allows one to access areas of the wetland when you would otherwise be knee-deep in the water. Many mountain huts are scatered arounf the park for a pleasant overnight stay. Sleeping quarters consist of private tatami rooms with futons. All huts serve a warm dinner and most of them have public warm baths.
If you have climbed mountains of the Japanese Alps or tall volcanoes like mount Fuji, you know how good it feels to bath in a hot spring after a hard day of hiking. Now imagine you arrive at your campsite with a natural outdoor onsen waiting for you with an amazing scenery. This is the dream waiting for you at Hakubayari Onsen, the highest onsen in Japan.
A mountain hut is built every spring next to the hot spring and disassembled in fall before avalanche season. A tentsite with limited space is also located next to the hot spring (all spaces were filled by noon on the day of our hike). A small cafeteria serves a simple dinner in the evening and staff can prepare cup noodles at lunchtime. More importantly, they sell beer. Yes, Japanese mountain climbing usually involves beer and most guest of Hakubayari onsen can be seen with a beer in hand at some time during their stay.
The hut is actually on the way to Hakuba-Yarigatake, a prominent peak in the region. We started our climb of Yarigatake from the hut at around 6 in the morning and summited at around 10:30. The view was spectacular. We could see mount Shirouma, Mount Tateyama, mount Kashima-Yarigatake, and Kurobe Damm.
The trail we took back and forth to the summit starts from the Sarukura parking lot. We got a ride from familly member but I know that taxis will drive you up there from Hakuba station.
Some coworkers in my research lab organized a trip to Mount Fuji this past summer. Although it is possible to reach the summit and come back in a single day, like I did before by taking the Fujiyoshida trail, we elected this time to spend a night at a lodge and take the Subashiri trail. We started our hike at the Subashiri fifth station in early afternoon and reached our lodge in late afternoon. At the lodge, we had curry for dinner and spent most of our evening enjoying the beautiful scenery. After a very short and rather uncomfortable night, we woke up at 2 in the morning to start our night ascent of the summit of Mount Fuji. The trail was so crowded and the climb up was slow but it was an exciting experience to see all the hikers heading up the famous volcano with their headlamps. We summited at around 4AM, just in time to witness the amazing sunrise while eating our breakfast. We then headed down by the osunabashiri (Gotemba is the official name) trail which is so sandy that many chose to run all the way down.
Mount Eboshi is located not too far from the Hokuriku Shinkansen line linking Tokyo to the city of Nagano. Reaching its summit takes about 1-2 hour from the trail-head, depending on your fitness level. The bare summit offers an impressive panoramic view of Ueda city and of mount Asama, a nearby active volcano. I was quite surprised to see a white column of smoke being released from the volcano’s crater during our trip.
Mount Karita is a nice and easy hike (about one-and-half hour climb up) with a rewarding view of the valley surrounding the city of Obuse. The mountain got its name because it looks like a bird (Kari) spreading its wings. The trailhead starts at Gansho-in temple and the hike is not so steep. The trail eventually goes through the ruins of an old castle located on the mountain. I also recommend walking in the region surrounding the trailhead parking since the fields at the base of the mountain are really picturesque.
Mount Tsurumi, an ancient volcano, is an unmistakable geological landmark of the region of Beppu. The summit of the mountain is accessible by the Kintetsu Beppu Ropeway. Many small shrines are located around the summit but the main attraction is, without any doubt, the amazing view of the bay of Beppu.
Hakuba is a famous ski resort of the Northern Japanese Alps in Nagano prefecture. In 1998, the ski competitions of the Nagano Olympics were held at the Hakuba ski resort. Other than ski in winter, the Hakuba resort offers a magnificent mountain scenery with famous mountains such as the Kashima-Yarigatake and mount Yarigatake. It can serve as an elevated starting point to some serious hikes in the Northern Japanese Alps.
We started the hike at a trail-head located close to the departure point of the Kanden Tunnel Trolleybus Continue reading Japanese mountain experience: climbing Kashima-Yarigatake
Here it is, my second panorama on GaijinGoJapan! This one is taken again in the beautiful mountains of Nagano prefecture. The main feature of the panorama is Mount Asama Continue reading Mount Kurofu, fantastic view of Mount Asama
Mount Mushikura is located in Nagano prefecture, slightly West of the town of Nagano. Its name stands for crowded (kura) with insects (mushi). Fortunately, at the time of our ascent (28 of April 2013), there were no bugs bothering us. The only living being we saw were cute salamanders in a nearby stream. Continue reading Mount Mushikura (虫倉山)