Archive for the ‘Nagoya hikes (名古屋)’ category

Mt. Ontake (御嶽)

April 18, 2008

Special note: On September 27, 2014, Mt. Ontake erupted unexpectedly, causing fatalities and covering the mountain with ash. The peak will be closed to hikers until further notice.


Clocking in at over 3000, Mt. Ontake is the nation’s tallest active volcano and 8th tallest mountain. Popular with Shinto pilgrims, the peaks offers outstanding panoramic views, pungent volcanic steam vents, and picturesque turquoise lakes.

The hike: From the bus stop at Tanohara, hike through the Shrine torii down into a flat meadow. If the weather is clear then you’ll see the massive volcano towering just above you. The path starts climbing on the other side of the meadow. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow, and you’ll pass by countless shrines and statues on your way to the summit. It should take an hour or so to reach the first emergency hut at the 6th stagepoint (六合目) Keep climbing higher and higher, and after another 90 minutes or so, you should reach a rather big shrine and hut on the summit ridge line. You’ll see the smoldering steam vents just in front of you, as well as the summit shrine. You’ve got another half an hour of climbing before reaching the summit, so keep going. The narrow summit is quite over-developed, with 2 different mountain huts and a shrine. In fact, the very top is covered in concrete! Go back the way you came, or consider descending to the small turquoise lake on the other side of the summit. This area is called Ni-no-ike (二ノ池), and you’ll find a couple of huts here, which are only open from July to September. The ‘new’ hut has a hot spring bath you can use! Click here for the web site. From here, you can descend to the gondola in about 2 hours or so. Just follow the signs to Ontake Ropeway (御岳ロープウェイ).

When to go: This hike can be done year round if you’ve got the right equipment and experience. Otherwise, aim to go during the summer when the huts are open. I climbed in early June and there was still a fair amount of snow on top and the huts were completely closed. Click here to see the scenery in early May.

Access: From Kiso-Fukushima station (木曽福島駅), take a bus bound for Tanohara (田ノ原) and get off at the last stop. There are only 3 buses a day, so plan accordingly. Click here to see the bus schedule. Alternatively, you can take the Ontake Ropeway, which will whisk you up to 2100m in just a few minutes. Take a Ontake Ropeway (御岳ロープウェイ) bound bus and get off at the gondola. Again, there are only 3 buses a day, so click here to find out the schedule. Please note that the bus only runs every day between July 18th and August 30th and weekends only in early July, September, and October.

Live web cam: Click here and here

Level of difficulty: 3 out of 5 (elevation change 937m)

Mt. Ena (恵那山)

February 24, 2008

Mt. Ena is a long, round, hump-shaped peak located on the border of Nagano and Gifu Prefectures. It’s easily accessible from Nagoya city, and the views along the way are outstanding.

The view from Mt. Ena

The hike: From the small parking lot at Misakatouge (神坂峠), there are two trails, but you want to take the one towards Oobanyama (大判山). It should take you about 90 minutes to reach this peak, which has excellent panoramic views of the Minami and Chuo Alps, as well as Mt. Ondake. You can also see Mt. Ena in front of you. From the peak, the trail curves toward the right and goes down! You’ll lose about 100m of altitude before the trail flattens out and follows the contour of the mountain. The trail will start climbing again, and won’t let up until the summit ridge. It should take about 2 hours or so to reach the Ena ridgeline, as the final climb is quite steep and rough going if there’s any snow or ice. Once you reach the ridge, the trail will veer off to the left and become very flat and easy. In about 20 minutes or so, you’ll come to a mountain hut named Enasan-sanchou-goya (恵那山山頂小屋). The area is heavily wooded, but if you climb the rock behind the hut you’ll be rewarded with terrific views of the Minami Alps and Mt. Fuji. The true summit is another 10 minutes or so past the hut, and there’s a small shrine at the top, but no view. The hut itself is unmanned and free to stay in, but there’s no water source so bring plenty of water with you if you’re planning an overnight stay. In fact, there are no water sources at all on this hike (not even at the trailhead), so stock up at the train station before setting out. After resting at the top, head back the way you came.

When to go: This mountain gets its fair share of snow in the winter, and I’ve got the feeling that the forest road to the trailhead isn’t plowed, which means a winter assault may be difficult. The snow should melt sometime in March though. I did this hike in October and it snowed!

Access: From Nagoya station. Take the JR Limited Express “Shinano” train bound for Nagano and get off at Nakatsugawa station (中津川駅). If you’d like to save money, then take a local train. From the station, there is NO bus service to the trailhead. You’ve either got to take a taxi (that’ll cost around 7000 yen) or try your luck hitching. The trail starts at Misakatouge (神坂峠). I was lucky enough to go with a friend who had a car. If you’ve got a few days off, you could try walking to the trailhead and camping there, before starting your hike the following day.

Level of difficulty: 2 out of 5 (elevation change 622m)