The Northern Japanese Alps | HIKES IN JAPAN

The Northern Japanese Alps


The "Japanese Alps" consist of the ranges of the Northern, Central, and Southern Alps. The name recalls the range's European counterpart and was coined by the British mining engineer William Gowland who spent time in Japan in the late 19th century. The English missionary Walter Weston was enthralled with these mountains too and spent a lot of time climbing them during his three stays in the country. He was responsible for popularizing the name of the range abroad through his book "Mountaineering and Exploration in the Japanese Alps."

The Northern Alps are the largest of the three ranges. Spanning Toyama, Niigata, Nagano and Gifu Prefectures, these mountains have been idesignated as Chubu Sangaku National Park. In contrast to the Southern Alps where gradual, undulating mountains are common, the Northern Alps are home to many jagged outcrops and precipitous peaks.

The scenery in the Northern Alps is breathtaking. Beautiful areas include the glacially carved Karasawa Cirque with its colonies of alpine plants, Sennin-ike Pond with its mystical atmosphere, the alpine grassland of Kumonodaira, and the rugged canyon of the Kurobe Gorge. Peaks include Mt. Tsurugi and the Tateyama Peaks to the northwest, Mt. Shirouma and the Ushiro Tateyama Peaks to the northeast, Mt. Yari and the Hotaka peaks to the south, and Mt. Jonen to the southeast.


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