Mt. Nasu (那須岳)

Mt. Nasu is an active volcano located on the border of Tochigi and Fukushima Prefectures. Popular with families and school trips, the mountain features picturesque scenery and a hut with its own hot spring!

Mt Nasu

The hike: From the parking lot you can either shell out your hard-earned money to take the gondola up to the top, or use the very easy, well-maintained path. I knew you’d opt for hiking! Hike up the paved road for a few minutes, and the trail will branch off to the left. The trail is easy to follow, and when I went I passed an entire elementary school class of 80 kids along the way! The trail really is more like a road for the initial climb. After about 40 minutes or so, you’ll hit the ridge line, and an emergency hut will be conveniently awaiting you. The hut is there in case Nasu decides to blow its nose on your journey, and staying in the hut is officially prohibited (you’re better off going to the hot spring hut anyway.) When you get to the hut, hang a left toward Mt. Chausu (茶臼岳). There are plenty of paint marks, so it’s nearly impossible to get lost, and after about 20 minutes the trail will meet up with the one from the gondola. This trail can become extremely crowded during weekends, so take a quick walk around the crater rim before descending back to the emergency hut. Once you’re back here, instead of going back down the mountain, head away from all of the crowds toward Mt. Asahi (朝日岳). It’s quite rocky in this section, so be careful of ice if you’re here in the winter. You should be sitting on top of Mt. Asahi in about 40 minutes or so, with an incredible view overlooking the crater of Mt. Chausu. Mt. Asahi is just a short spur from the main trail, so once on top head back down to the main trail. From this point, head yet further away from Mt. Chausu and the crowds. Your target is the official high point of the mountain, called Mt. Sanbonyari (三本槍岳). It should take about an hour or so from Mt. Asahi to reach the high point. Along the way, you’ll first find a trail branching off to the left, and then another one toward the right. Ignore both of these. As long as you follow the signposts to Sanbonyari then you’ll be ok. About halfway there, you’ll pass through a beautiful marsh area with some small lakes. Once you make it to the high point, break out your lunch an enjoy the scenery. Only the most hardcore hikers make it to this point, and it’ll be a pleasant change from the chaos at Mt. Chausu. From the high point, you have to retrace your footsteps all the way back to the parking lot! So much for a loop trail. However, if you’d like to check out the hot spring hut, then hang a right just before coming back to Mt. Asahi. I’ve never actually done this trail, but my friend insists the detour is worth it. Unfortunately , you’ll have to stay in the hut in order to use the hot spring. Check out this web site (in Japanese) for more info.

When to go: This hike can be done year round, but be prepared for a bit of snow in the winter. The hot spring hut is open from April to December.

Access: From Ueno station in Tokyo, take either a Shinkansen bound for Koriyama or a local train and get off at Kuroiso station (黒磯駅). The local train takes almost 3 hours, but costs less than 3000 yen. If you take the Shinkansen, you’ll need to get off at Nasushiobara (那須塩原駅) and change to a local train to Kuroiso. From Kuroiso, take a bus bound for Nasudake-sanroku (那須岳山麓) and get off there. The bus takes about an hour. Click here for the schedule.

Map: Click here, and here

Level of difficulty: 2 out of 5 (elevation change 537m)

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6 Comments on “Mt. Nasu (那須岳)”

  1. Sidney Feinleib Says:

    When to go: This hike can be done year round, but be prepared for a bit of snow in the winter. The hot spring hut is open from April to December.

    The “bit of snow” is more like 3 meters deep. Ropeway road is plowed, but gate is closed in winter season.

  2. Idde Says:

    The description is (as always on this site!) excellent but I did this hike last winter, and the snow conditions were very intense. A solid 2 meter deep at the start of the trail (which is not at the end of the road as in summer, but in Yumoto). Temperatures were not extreme, but the whole thing requires good preparation and motivation!
    On the day of my hiking, the wind was very extreme (but it can be so at any time of the year in Nasu), it actually lifted me up for a brief second at one point, it was the scariest feeling ever!
    But amazing environment and with a well-deserved hot spring after the climb :)

  3. David Says:

    This may be a recent development but buses also run from Nasu-Shiobara station to the ropeway. They take about 70 minutes and stop by Kuroiso station.

  4. Albert Says:

    Would it make a good short one day hike in December???

  5. Judith Ricken Says:

    I just want to confirm that Nasu is not to be taken lightly in winter. You definitely need crampons! I went last week, and the path was quite icy, also the wind was so strong that I wasn’t sure it’d be wise to continue. I made it to the emergency hut where I waited for another hiker who had also been on the bus. When he arrived, he told me he has hiked Nasu many times in all seasons, but never encountered such strong wind. Originally, we wanted to go to Asahi-dake which we dismissed, but we thought we might make it to Chausu. So, we set off, but the wind was so strong that it nearly blew me over several times, and we decided to quit and return.

    By the way the bus starts at Nasushiobara-station before stopping at Kuroiso. To take the train to Kuroiso and catch the bus is more hassle but cheaper in my opinion. As mentioned before in winter the bus only goes as far as Omaru-Onsen.

    As we returned far too early for the return bus at 3pm we decided to walk to Nasuyumoto (那須湯本)bus stop from where buses run more frequently. Passing the deadly stone memorial, we went to “Shikanoyu” Onsen, which is a lot of fun. They have basins starting from 41.5 to 48 degrees and you can warm up bit by bit.

    Altogether I’m glad I made it down safely and the onsen was fun, but I want to go again.
    Also, the route you described to the highest point Sanbonyari apparently is impossible in winter. (As it is only one meter higher than Chausu I’m not entirely sure what’s the point to try to get there, but…)
    I did see a post on yamap though were hikers approached Sanbonyari from the Nasu Gondola but I couldn’t find any public transport to the Gondola. If you have a car or money for a taxi that might also be an option. The people in the post wore snowshoes however, not crampons. I’m not sure you need them though…

  6. Judith Ricken Says:

    I retried Nasu (Chausu) yesterday and made it to the top! This time the wind was much less strong, but it was snowing the entire time. This time there was no ice, so I didn’t use the crampons I had brought. Through lots of fresh snow and wind at the top I lost the tracks of other hikers’ countless times and was sometimes unsure where to go. It was hard to know where is snow and where is rock…Originally, I had planned to go down on the other side of the mountain to Shikanoyu Onsen from where the buses run more frequently. But as I couldn’t really see anything I returned the way I came and walked down the paved road from Oomaru-Onsen to Shikanoyu from where I got the bus back to Nasushiobara station. It took about an hour.

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