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Hike of a Sacred Mountain, Mt. Togakushi; Round Trip from the Togakushi-jinja Shrine Okusha

Hike along a ridge above sheer cliffs toward an age old place of ascetic devotion.
  • Duration
    1Day / 6Hours
    Highest Point
    1904m
    Elevation Gain
    689m
  • Skill Level
    Fitness Level
    Gear Level
Mt. Togakushi is located in in the northwestern part of Nagano Prefecture. Beginning in the 12th century, Mt. Togakushi has served as a place of ascetic training for devotees of Shugendo as well as ninja. The mountain’s ridge is narrow and runs along sheer cliff faces. Many caves and grottoes used by devotees and ninja over the years still remain in the mountainside and the Togakushi-jinja Shrine, said to have been built some 2,000 years ago, stands in the foothills. The route introduced here is a round trip course following the approach to Togakushi-jinja Shrine Okusha (inner shrine). You will get a sense of the long history of religious devotion, while passing through sites like the Gojukkennagaya whose rocky slopes bear traces of countless pilgrimages, and on toward the peak of Mt. Togakushi.

From the Togakushi Okusha Entrance bus stop, follow the straight and level course of the shrine approach. After passing through the Zuishinmon gate, you will be on a path lined with towering Japanese cedar trees some 400 year of age. These trees have been officially designated as natural monuments.

After hiking the path for about 40 minutes from the bus stop, you will arrive at Togakushi-jinja Shrine Okusha, which is the oldest of the many Togakushi Shrine buildings scattered around the area. From here, you will begin a difficult section of the route, as the course turns into a rocky slope.

Hike up a steep slope through a forested area for about an hour and 10 minutes, then traverse the slope through an overhanging rock on the right hand side to arrive at Hyakken-nagaya. Continue on past a miniature shrine and climb up the long segment of rocky slope fitted with chains.

Once you have climbed the Munatsuki-iwa rock, you will arrive at a ridge known as “Arino-towatari,” which is the most difficult part of the route. Care and concentration are needed when negotiating this ridge of only a few dozen centimeters in width. There is also an alternative path equipped with chains below and to the right.

From Hyakken-nagaya, it takes about an hour and 10 minutes to reach the main ridge, Happonirami. From here, continue along the ridge to reach the peak of Mt. Togakushi.

For the return journey, follow the same route in reverse.

Other Info

The area around the foot of Mt. Togakushi is famous for Soba (buckwheat) production area. In September of each year the white soba flowers and the steep slopes of Mt. Togakushi combine to create a contrast resulting in beautiful scenery. You will definitely want to savor the soba at a restaurant near the trailhead.

Notes

This route has many ridges running along sheer cliffs. The danger of falls makes helmets a recommended item for anyone attempting this hike.
Of particular note, many hikers choose to cross the “Arino-towatari” by straddling the narrow ridge and shuffling slowly and carefully to the other side. A combination of technique, fitness, and experience is needed for this hike. Anyone unaccustomed to mountaineering should turn back rather than taking unnecessary risks.

Route Map

Elevation Map

Height (m)
Horizontal Distance (km)

Spec

Duration
1Day / 6Hours
Highest Point
1904m(Mt. Togakushi)
Elevation Gain
689m
Horizontal Distance
6.7Km
Skill Level
Fitness Level
Gear Level

On the Trail

Sleeping
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Eating

Togakushi Soba, Okushamae Naosuke

Hot-Springs

Togakushikamitsuge Onsen

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Access

Mt. Togakushi is in the northwestern part of Nagano Prefecture. From Tokyo Station, take the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Nagano Station (approx. an hour and 20 minutes.
From Nagano Station, take the Alpico Togakushi Route Bus to the Togakushi Okusha Entrance bus stop (approx. one hour and 10 minutes).

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