The ski season was soon over but didn’t plan to ski anyway. We took the chairlift from Doaiguchi station to Tenjindaira station only to admire the scenic view of the surrounding mountains.
Ironically, while writing on the Kankakei Gorge, I have no good photos of the gorge, which was quite impressive but the view of Shodoshima from the summit was really worth the trip by itself. There was some stormy weather coming on us while on the summit so we couldn’t safely take the cable-car back down. Instead, the transport company shuttled us down in a minivan at no additional fee, that’s Japanese service!
Mount Kurohime is located in the northern part of Nagano prefecture. When I visited with my girlfriend’s family, there were really nice gardens in full bloom. We took the cable-car to go half-way to the summit where we enjoyed a fantastic view of Lake Nojiri.
Mount Tate is one of the three sacred mountains of Japan. One should wake up really early to climb this mountain in one day since the steps to go up are : 1) underground bus climbing from Ogizawa station to Kurobe Dam station, 2) an underground Funicular going from the dam (Kurobeko station) to the Kurobedaira station, 3) A cablecar going from Kurobedaira to Daikanbo and then 4) an underground bus crossing inside the mountain and reaching Murodo station on the other side, therefore allow plenty of time for the commute! The climb of Mount Tate from the Murodo station takes approximately 2 hours and many huts are available for overnight stay near the mountain. A shinto shrine is located on the summit of mount Tate which makes it a site of “Pilgrimage” for many climbers who take some time for a prayer on the summit before continuing to their next destination.
We climbed Mount Fuji by the Yoshida trail which starts from the city of Fujiyoshida on August 27th, the day after the Mount Fuji fire festival. After riding up the Mount Fuji toll road by car we were at the 5th station and ready to start climbing at 5 AM. The climb was steep all the way but posed no major difficulty. The presence of switchbacks all the way to the summit make the climb achievable to novice mountain climbers. I strongly advise to cover up with clothes and hat and to put plenty of sunscreen. I went up “gaijin style” and ended up with severe sunburns all over. Let me tell you that it was very painful at the Onsen afterwards! We came back to the 5th station and to the car in the middle of the afternoon but I suggest to novice climbers to have a night at the lodges along the way, it must definitely add to the experience to stay a night on Mount Fuji!
If the weather is good, one can observe mount Fuji from the Shinkansen rapid train. Be sure to sit on the right if travelling towards Kyoto or to the left while travelling towards Tokyo. The station shin fuji propably offers one of the best views. I was offered a window seat by Japanese Salaryman who probably saw it so many times already. The picture taken represents reasonably what you can expect to see, the exact location it was taken is not certain though.
The next day, we went on for some hiking on another summit of mount Shirane. We were in the middle of the clouds for the greatest part of the day but we enjoyed the hike nonetheless. As a testimony that mt. Shirane is still quite active, there were numerus fumarol, those vents from which volcanic gas escape. The air was foul-smelling (like rotten eggs) because of the high sulfur content (H2S Hydrogen sulfide).
Mount Shirane is an active volcano of 2160m in the prefecture of Kusatsu. Close access to the crater was restricted, perhaps because of hazardous amounts of sulfur in the air. Despite some cloud cover, the view was quite impressive.