Loop of the Northern Yatsugatake Volcanic Group: Shirakoma-ike Pond and Takamiishi | HIKES IN JAPAN

Loop of the Northern Yatsugatake Volcanic Group: Shirakoma-ike Pond and Takamiishi

Walk through a mossy virgin forest and discover a mystical pond.
  • Duration
    1Day / 3Hours
    Highest Point
    Elevation Gain
  • Skill Level
    Fitness Level
    Gear Level
Shirakoma-ike Pond and Takamiishi are located in the northern region of the Yatsugatake mountain range. Many species of coniferous trees, hundreds of years old, including silver-fir, spruce, and northern Japanese hemlock are among the more than 480 species of trees in the area’s moss-covered primeval forest. The forest floor and tree roots are covered with a lush veneer of green moss, creating a scene of mysterious ambiance. With its 2115 meters elevation, Shirakoma-ike is the largest lake located above the 2000 meters mark in all of Japan. The route featured here allows you to enjoy nature therapy in a virgin forest and the view from Takamiishi.

From Mugikusa-toge Pass, follow the traverse route running along the road to reach the entrance to Shirakoma-ike (approx 20minutes). From the entrance to Shirakoma-ike, follow a trail across level terrain through the old-growth forest until you reach the Shirakoma-ike lakeside.

From here, walk around the lake while admiring the view to your right. The wooden walkway is easy to walk along, but can be slippery when wet. Caution is advised after rain. Continue on past the Seitai-so mountain hut and the nearby camping area, enjoying the view of the lake to your right and the old-growth forest to your left as you walk along the path. After about 40 minutes, you’ll arrive at the Shirakoma-so mountain hut.

Follow the trail behind Shirakoma-so and hike up through the virgin forest for about 30 minutes until you reach the Takamiishi-goya mountain hut. The path to the right side of the hut leads to a rocky slope consisting of a mound of large rocks and eventually to the top of Takamiishi. From here, you can enjoy overlooking the view of the lake and old-growth forest you were just walking through.

Hike up for another 20 minutes from Takamiishi-goya to reach Mt. Maruyama. While this spot marks the highest point on the route, it is surrounded by virgin forest and, as such, has a poor view of the surroundings.
From Mt. Maruyama, descend a moderately steep path down past the small peak and walk for about 40 minutes through the old-growth forest to return to your starting point at Mugikusa-toge.

Other Info

While more than half of this route is covered in old-growth forest, the area around Shirakoma-ike is also home to several broad-leaved tree species including dodan-tsutsuji (Enkianthus perulatus), nanakamado (Sorbus commixta, or Japanese rowan), and dakekanba (Erman’s birch). You can enjoy bold red and yellow foliage in the first few weeks of October. The pleasing contrast between the colorful foliage and the green of the primeval forest, as well as the pond surface, makes this a popular spot for photography.

High Season:May to October


The route introduced here benefits from a small change in elevation, relatively short walking time and a course with level terrain. However, due to the number of branching paths through the old-growth forest with limited visibility, you should take care not to get lost. Please check the maps set up at forks on the paths to ensure that you are following the correct route.

Route Map

Elevation Map

Height (m)
Horizontal Distance (km)


1Day / 3Hours
Highest Point
2330m(Mt. Maruyama)
Elevation Gain
Horizontal Distance
Skill Level
Fitness Level
Gear Level

On the Trail


Seitai-so, Shirakoma-so, Takamiishi-goya, Mugikusa Hutte


Seitai-so, Shirakoma-so, Takamiishi-goya, Mugikusa Hutte


Yokoya Onsen Ryokan




This course is located in Sakuho Town, Nagano Prefecture in the northern part of the Yatsugatake Range. From Tokyo Station, take the JR Chuo Line to Shinjuku Station (approx. 15minutes) and transfer to a Chuo Line express train. From Shinjuku Station, travel to Chino Station (approx. 2 hours and 10 minutes).
From Chino Station, take an Alpico highway bus to Mugikusa-toge (approx. an hour).



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