Mt. Kama-ga-take (鎌ヶ岳)

Mt. Kama is one of the hidden jewels of the Suzuka mountain range in eastern Mie Prefecture. The spear-like peak is a thrilling rock scramble with outstanding panoramic views of Ise bay and the rest of the mountains of Mie and Shiga Prefectures.


Note: If you don’t fancy taking the gondola, then there are several hiking trails to choose from. The most popular route is the Nakamichi (中道), but you’ll need to walk up the paved road for about an hour before reaching the trailhead. The Uramichi (裏道) route starts just past the gondola entrance and it’s a pleasant (and less crowded) climb. The summit of Mt. Gozaisho is an eyesore, with a ski resort, restaurants, and lots of concrete. It’s better to spend your energy getting towards Mt. Kama, which is why I recommend the gondola. In addition, there are outstanding views of Mt. Kama from the gondola: look out the left side of the carriage at the pyramidal peak on the ride up.

The hike: When exiting the gondola, head upstairs and enjoy the views from Fujimi-daira. On an exceptionally clear day, you can see the top of Mt. Fuji sticking up from behind the mountains of Aichi Prefecture. From here, take the concrete steps leading off the lookout point. The path will wrap around and pass by a restaurant (and the chairlift entrance). Climb the ski field just to the right of the chairlift for about 10 minutes and you’ll reach the high point of Mt. Gozaisho. From here, head left on the paved road, following the signs to Buhei-touge (武平峠).  After several minutes you’ll see a signposted path on the right side of the paved path with a warning sign in Japanese telling people it is dangerous (危険). The first part of the route is on slippery sandstone with a couple of low branches hanging across the path (watch your head please). After that, the route drops steeply through an area of large rocks and boulders. At times it feels as if you are traversing the Houou ridge of the Minami Alps with all of the sand stone present. It should take about 30 to 45 minutes to reach Buhei-touge, where you’ll want to take a break before starting the big climb. There are paths dropping off the ridge to both the left and right. The left path will take you back down to Yunoyama onsen, while the right path drops into Shiga Prefecture. The trail to the summit of Mt. Kama is straight ahead, and it’s a no-nonsense ascent of 300 vertical meters through more sandstone and large boulders. It’ll take about an hour to reach the summit, where you’ll have jaw-dropping panoramic views. The final 50 meters to the peak is tricky, with slippery rock and poor footholds. You’ll probably find yourself scrambling on all fours. However, there is a chain here to help you up the pebbly trail. You’ll know you’re just below the summit when you reach a blue signpost that says Kamagatake (Universal). Turn left here for the steep scurry. From the top, there’s a path that drops down on the left, but ignore this and continue on the ridge, past a rusty shrine and to a rock clearing. Don’t be tempted to keep traversing on the knife-edge ridge. The real path drops down on your left. It’s a steep 10-minute descent to Dake-touge (岳峠), where you’ll find a path on your left marked Nagaishidani (長石谷). Take this trail as it descends through a beautiful rocky, dry riverbed. The path can be difficult to pick up, so look for the red paint marks on the rocks and the red tape on the trees. As long as you stay close to the bed you’ll be fine. The gully will eventually turn into a stream with running water, which will grow larger the further you descend. The route crosses this river about a dozen times. The crossings aren’t well-marked, but a good rule of thumb is to stick to whichever side of the river is widest. After about an hour a tributary will come in from the left, and you can find a large waterfall here. There is a signpost on the path (on the right bank of the river) that says Inuhoshiootaki (犬星大滝). If you want to see the waterfall, then cross the stream on your left and you’ll find it about 50 meters up the tributary. It makes a wonderful place for a break. Retrace your steps to the trail and continue downstream. The waterfalls grow in size a bit from this point and the river crossings become a bit trickier, so take your time and make sure to look for the paint marks. There are also a couple of waste-deep pools that look great for a dip (as long as the leeches aren’t out). You’re next big landmark will (unfortunately) be a big concrete dam. You know you’re getting close when the cedar trees start showing up. When you reach the dam, head to the left and take the path that drops very steeply towards the bottom of the dam. This path will meet up with another path (this is the path that drops directly from the summit) and the route will drop back past a couple of more concrete dams before reaching a flat area where you’ll need to cross the river. From here it’s a short walk to the paved road, Turn right and follow the road for about 45 minutes to the bus stop just below the gondola. If it’s a weekend then you can try your luck hitching. Otherwise, wait for the bus that’ll take you back to Yunoyama station.

When to go: This hike can be done from late March to early December. May is the best time for flowers. Avoid the peak from June to August, as the Suzuka mountains are covered with blood-sucking leeches. Winter is for experts only.

Access:  Although it’s very far from Osaka, it can be done as a day trip if you’re prepared for a 5-hour round trip train ride. From Kintetsu-Namba station, take a Limited Express train bound for Nagoya and get off at Yokkaichi station, where you can transfer to the Yunoyama line. Some trains don’t stop at Yokkaichi, so you’ll need to transfer to a different Limited Express train at Tsu. From Yokkaichi, take the Yunoyama line and get off at Yunoyama Onsen station. From the station, take a bus to Yunoyama onsen. The buses are infrequent, so if you’ve got some people with you, it’ll be faster to share a taxi to the ropeway (a one-way taxi is about 1300 yen). From Nagoya, there are some direct trains to Yunoyama onsen, and there are direct buses as well, which will drop you off just below the gondola entrance. Click here for the Nagoya-Yunoyama bus schedule and here for the bus from Yunoyama station to the gondola.

Level of difficulty: 4 out of 5 (elevation change ~500 meters)

Distance: 7.5km (3-1/2 to 7 hours, depending on whether you use the gondola or not)

Vertical elevation chart:

 kama - vertical

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7 Comments on “Mt. Kama-ga-take (鎌ヶ岳)”

  1. Jan Says:

    Hi Wes,
    we did the hike last weekend and it was quite stunning. Eventually we climbed Kamagatake directly from Yunoyama Onsen (which by the way is a brutal spa resort in terms of architecture that dates back to 50′ and 60′, I guess), then hiked along Bouhei Toge and made it to the top of Gozaisho. It was very refreshing after 2 weeks of work in overpopulated Nagoya. Thanks a lot for great recommendation. Without your excellent hiking guide I would have spent another stressful day either in Nagoya or Osaka (as I have already seeen most historical and other sites in the region).

    • wes Says:

      Glad to hear you enjoyed the hike. The Suzuka mountains are filled with great hikes. Just watch out for the leeches.


      • Tuomas Says:

        Hi Wes,
        I live a stone’s throw away from Kamagadake and have hiked it numerous times. I got to say, I don’t quite agree with you on the route you recommend as I think it’s unnessessary to take the gondola up to Gozaisho in order to hike Kama. I live near Yunoyamaonsen station (5 mins. walk from my house) and when I hike Kamagadake, I usually just walk there from my house along the Suzuka Skyline and take the path left to Kamagadake where you can also take the steep path to Gozaisho if you turn right at the same point.
        However, I really enjoy reading your website and have received much information from it. Keep up the good work!


      • wes Says:


        Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, I know it’s not necessary to take the gondola, but I really like that ridge between Gozaisho and Buhei pass. It’s easy to walk up from Yunoyama Onsen to the pass, but most of the hike parallels the road. Another option is to climb up Gozaisho first, then head along the ridge to Mt. Kama. It really depends on how much time people have.

        I hope you’ve had time to explore the other peaks in the Suzuka mountains. Ryuu-ga-take is really nice. Oh, and watch out for leeches in those mountains

  2. Joey Says:

    Hi Wes,

    I’ve hiked Gozaisho three times this year (time to find a new mountain). Thanks for all the good info, but what exactly do you mean about the leeches? In the water?

    • wes Says:


      Leeches usually hang near water sources but they don’t live in the water. They hang out on the foliage next to the trail and when you walk by, they crawl onto your clothing and latch onto your skin. They also fall from the trees, so you’ll need to keep your head and neck covered as well if you run into an area with leeches. They’re no fun at all

  3. Arthur Lauritsen Says:

    HI WES!

    Did this mountain yesterday. In June they close tje gondola down for maintenance. The bottom up hike was beautiful but…



    The trail was swarming with land leaches. At any one time there would be 10 critters crawling up your leg. They burrow through boots and socks and and suck blood till they become beloated and immobile. Good times.

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