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Round Trip Hike of Mt. Nikko Shirane via Ropeway

Hike up the highest peak in the Kanto region along a route with only a minor change in elevation.
  • Duration
    1Day / 5Hours
    Highest Point
    2578m
    Elevation Gain
    580m
  • Skill Level
    Fitness Level
    Gear Level
Mt. Nikko Shirane (Nikko-shirane-san) is located on the border of Gunma and Tochigi prefectures. It is designated part of the Nikko National Park along with Lake Yunoko, and the Senjo-ga-hara wetland, on the Tochigi side of the mountain. Mt. Nikko Shirane is listed among Japan's 100 most famous mountains and, at 2578 meters in height, is not only the highest mountain in the Kanto region, but also higher than any mountain north of Kanto, including those in Hokkaido and Tohoku. There are several routes leading to the mountain, including one from Oku-Nikko on the Tochigi Prefecture side and a traverse route that goes around some mountains on the Tochigi-Gunma border. However, the route we will introduce here is accessed via the –Nikko Shiranesan Ropeway on the Gunma Prefecture side and follows a trail with only a minor change in elevation.

There is a plaza with a public footbath and other facilities in the area around the Ropeway Sancho station. From here, you can see Mt. Nikko Shirane to whose peak you will be hiking.

Pass through red torii gate of the Nikko Futarasan-jinja Shrine and continue on beyond the fence for keeping deer out. Soon you will be starting your hike along a gentle trail through a conifer forest belt. After about an hour of walking from the Sancho Station, you will pass by a stone statue of Dainichinyorai (Mahavairocana, or “celestial Buddha”) which sits atop a large rock formation and arrive at a shelter hut.

Hike up a traverse with a series of wooden stairways along it and then continue up the steep zigzagging path which extends beyond the treeline. From here, follow the gravel trail which is roped off on either side from the surrounding grasslands and woods.Continue on further beyond the grassy and wooded areas where the gravel trail passes through rocky slopes. After about an hour and 40 minutes walk from the shelter hut, you will reach Mt. Nikko Shirane’s summit which has many large rocks scattered around it.

On a clear day, you can see the blue surfaces of Lake Suganuma and Lake Marunuma at the base of the mountain on the Gunma side. And looking down on sights like the Senjo-ga-hara wetland, Lake Chuzenji, and Mt. Nantai (Nantai-san) at the base of the mountain on the Tochigi side, the peak also offers a fantastic view of the Nikko area.

For your return hike, simply follow the same route in reverse back to the starting point.

Other Info

Mt. Nikko Shirane is known for the beauty of both its flowers and its autumn foliage
Throughout June and July, you can see the various kinds of alpine flora which are cultivated at the plaza near the Ropeway Sancho Station. These include Shirane aoi (an endemic species of buttercup which bears the mountain’s name) and komakusa (Dicentra peregrina).

Along the steep, rocky slope just beneath the summit, you can see other plant species in bloom from June to July, including: iwakagami (Fringed galax) and Hakusan fuuro (an alpine geranium native to Japan).

From late September until mid-October, you can admire a wide variety of colorful autumn foliage decorating the mountain side from the window of the ropeway car on the ride up.


High Season:May to October

Notes

Although the route introduced here is a relatively easy one with only a minor change in altitude, it nevertheless involves a hike to a mountaintop above the treeline.

Since the peak period for viewing alpine flora is in late June through early July when there may still be snow on the trails, it is necessary to research conditions on the route when planning your hike.

Route Map

Elevation Map

Height (m)
Horizontal Distance (km)

Spec

Duration
1Day / 5Hours
Highest Point
2578m
Elevation Gain
580m
Horizontal Distance
11Km
Skill Level
Fitness Level
Gear Level

On the Trail

Sleeping
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Eating

Nikko Shiranesan Ropeway Sancho Café

Hot-Springs

Nikko Shiranesan Ropeway Center Station Zazen Onsen

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Access

Mt. Nikko Shirane is located on the border between Gunma and Tochigi prefectures. From Tokyo Station, take the Joetsu Shinkansen to Jomo Kogen Station (approx. an hour and 10 minutes).
At Jomo Kogen Station, transfer to a Kanetsu Kotsu bus bound for Shimizu and travel to the Kamata bus stop (approx. an hour and 24 minutes). From the Kamata bus stop, board a Kanetsu Kotsu bus bound for Yumoto Onsen and get off at the Nikko Shiranesan Ropeway bus stop (approx. 18 minutes). Get on the Nikko Shiranesan Ropeway and ride it to the Sancho Station (approx. 15 minutes).

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