The Central Japanese Alps
The Central Japanese Alps is a mountain range located in the southern part of Nagano prefecture, stretching approximately 65 kilometers north and south almost in single file, between the Kiso Valley (Kiso-dani) on the west and the Ina Valley (Ina-dani) on the east.
Although Mt. Kyogatake on the northern end is selected as one of Japan’s 200 most famous mountains, it remains a quiet mountain with few visiting hikers. The trail extends from the Ina Valley-side.
Kiso-Komagatake, the highest peak in the range, is selected as one of Japan’s 100 most famous mountains. A Shinto shrine was built on the summit during the 16th century, and many people climbed the mountain to worship, especially from the Kiso Valley-side, from the 17th to 19th centuries. Two Komagatake Shrines, along with other small shrines and stone statues, still stand on the summit, leaving the traces of religious faith of days gone by.
On the east side of the steep rocky peak of Mt. Hoken (Hoken-dake) that soars on the south of Mt. Kiso-Komagatake is a glacial cirque known as the Senjojiki Cirque. From Komagane Highland (Komagane Kohgen) on the eastern foot to the Senjojiki Cirque, the Central Japanese Alps Komagatake Ropeway has been constructed, boasting the greatest elevation difference in Japan, and bringing in many tourists. The convenient access has indeed attracted many hikers, allowing many mountain huts to operate around the mountain.
Mt. Utsugi (Utsugi-dake), in the central part, is also another one of Japan’s 100 most famous mountains. Although the hiking course requires a long walking time, picturesque scenery, such as the giant granite rock named “Komaishi” or the spectacular view from the summit, attract many hikers.
A trail extends from the Kiso Valley-side to the mountains on the south, such as Mt. Minami-Komagatake and Mt. Kosumo (Kosumo-yama). Few hikers visit these mountains, making them a great location for enjoying a quiet hike.