Mount Omuro Izu Peninsula
Mount Omuro on the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka is a 580m-tall dormant volcano with a perfect conical shape. In winter the Yamayaki Festival sees the grass burnt off the slopes of the mountain.
Mount Omuro, Ito City, Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka Prefecture 大室山 伊東市 伊豆半島 静岡県
- Mount Omuro Geological History
- Visiting Mount Omuro
- Sakura no Sato Park
- The Lift Up
- On Top of Mount Omuro
- Burning the Mountain
- How to get to Mount Omuro
Aerial view Of Mount Omuro, Ito City, Shizuoka Prefecture (official photo)
Mount Omuro (Omuro-yama) is a perfectly conically shaped dormant volcano in the east of the Izu Peninsula, south of Tokyo.
Its smooth and even slopes are covered with grass and thus fully on view. At an elevation of 580 meters, the top of Mount Omuro offers great views over the nearby Sagaminada Sea (part of the Pacific Ocean) towards the southern end of the Boso Peninsula (Chiba Prefecture), Tokyo and Yokohama and, right below, towards the rugged Jogasaki Coast. Towards the north, Ito City (to which Mount Omuro belongs) is visible as are, on clear days, Mount Fuji and, further in the distance, the Southern Japanese Alps.
Mount Omuro seen from Sakura no Sato Park, Ito City, Shizuoka Prefecture
Lower lift station, Mount Omuro, Ito City, Shizuoka Prefecture
Mount Omuro Geological History
Mount Omuro is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and at the same time, part of the Izu Peninsula Geo Park. The Geo in the name of the latter means "geological" - and in geological terms, the Izu Peninsula is certainly very special.
The Geopark website states that Izu was once a volcanic island belonging to the Filipino Plate. Tectonic movements pushed the island north and eventually, about 20 million years ago, it crashed into Honshu Island. That crash led to strong and long-term volcanic activity on what became the peninsula.
An especially strong volcanic eruption about 4,000 years ago created Mount Omuro. Molten lava spewed from a crater built up right around its source, all the way up to 580 meters. It must have been a giant eruption, continuing for quite a time. In geological terms, 4,000 years are a very short time. By then, most likely humans had long settled in the area.
The Izu Peninsula is today still an area of intense seismic activity. It still sits on the Filipino Plate, grating on Honshu Island. An eruption strong and lasting enough to create a new mountain the size of the Omuro might well happen sooner or later - and not so far from Tokyo.
For the time being however, the seismic activities of the area are beneficial. They supply the hot spring water for the baths of the famous onsen resort town of Atami in the very northeast of the peninsula, and they feed the onsen hot spring baths all across the Izu Peninsula.
Walkway circling the crater on top of Mount Omuro
The crater inside Mount Omuro with the upper lift station (left), Sengen Shrine (halfway down) and the archery range (at the base)
Visiting Mount Omuro
Unless you travel by hire car, the main starting point for a visit to Mount Omuro is Ito Station on the Ito Line which connects in Atami to the JR Tokaido Line. The slow trains of the Tokaido Shinkansen, the Kodama trains, also make a stop in Atami.
At Ito Station, best buy a Tokai bus day ticket. That's cheaper than paying the return trip fare on the bus.
The bus takes you right to the Omuro Lift Station. The lift, a cable chair lift, is the only way to get up the mountain. Hiking up is strictly prohibited to prevent damage to the perfectly smooth slopes.
Sakura no Sato Park
The best views from the ground onto the slopes of Mount Omuro offers Sakura no Sato Park, about a 10 minute walk from the lift station.
Sakura no Sato translates as "Home of the Cherry Blossoms". The Izu Peninsula is famous for its early-spring cherry blossoms, thanks to warm weather provided by the warm offshore currents.
The Sakura no Sato Park however has much more to offer: about 3,000 trees of 35 different kinds of cherry, blossoming at different times. The trees blossom between September and June which means that you can see cherry blossoms for about 10 months in the year at the park. In theory at least. Weather and other factors can easily alter all predicted schedules. In any case, except in spring, only very few of the trees will be blooming.
Chair lift, Mount Omuro, Ito City, Shizuoka Prefecture
The Lift Up
The ticket for a return-trip up the mountain via the cable chair lift is 500 yen. The lift goes up steeply and soon the surrounding landscape comes into good view.
Shortly before you arrive at the upper station, a camera mounted onto a pole to your left will blink and a recorded voice will tell you "Cheese, please". The photo taken there, printed out and already inserted into a sort of Omoru memorial album, will be presented to you by a lift staff member once you hit the upper station. It's going to cost you 1,000 yen if you go for it. Of course, if you decline, nobody is going to bother you about it.
Operating hours: March 16 - September 30: 9 am to 5.15 pm, October 1 to March 15: 9 am to 4.15 pm
Tickets are always return trip. You can't walk down. Adults (Junior High School and older) 500 yen, children (age 4 and older) 250 yen.
On Top of Mount Omuro
Just to the left of the upper lift station is a small cafeteria / gift shop. The gift shop offers archery gear for rent.
Indeed, there is a large archery range on the ground of the crater inside the mountain. It most likely belongs to an archery club but paying customers are always welcome.
About half-way down the crater is a small Shinto shrine, the Sengen Shrine. You can visit the shrine but you can't enter the crater grounds below unless you reserved time on the archery range.
A concrete walkway leads all the way around the upper edge of the crater. It's about 1 km and takes about 20 minutes to walk, depending on your speed and, of course, the time you spend on enjoying the views afforded.
Be careful, tough, it tends to get very windy there, especially in winter. Raincoats are available for rent at the gift shop if needed.
Statues of five Buddhist saints on top of Mount Omuro
On your route circling the upper route around the crater, you eventually hit the statues of five Buddhist saints, named the Gochinyoraijizouson, silently overlooking nearby Izu mountains.
A signboard next to them explains their background: in about the year 1663, the 9-year old daughter of a wealthy fishing fleet owner in what is now nearby Kanagawa Prefecture became pregnant. Her father prayed every day for her to give birth to her baby safely.
Despite her young age, the delivery went smoothly. As an act of gratitude towards the deities listening to his prayers, the father ordered the statues to be made. They were brought by ship to the Jogasaki Coast below the mountain and then carried up by selected strong men doing multiple trips up the mountain. It is said that the statues always listen to prayers, especially those concerning safe birth and happy marriage.
Yamayaki Mountain Burning in late winter, Mount Omuro, Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka Prefecture
Burning the Mountain
In late winter, the Yamayaki Festival is held at Mount Omuro. Yamayaki translates as "burning the mountain" and that's exactly what's done. The tall dry grass of the previous year still covering the mountain slopes is completely burned off. It's a giant fire - and within 15 minutes all the grass goes up in smoke.
Many tourists arrive to witness the fire. The best viewing spot is Sakura no Sato Park. Since the park is rather large, you don't have to worry about finding a good viewing spot. There are always good places to see the fire.
Officially, the date set for the Yamayaki Festival is the second Sunday in February. The actual event is however often delayed due to either rain or snow. It will, however, take place on a Sunday.
The website of the event will update you on the correct date and any last minute changes (in Japanese but the date is clearly spelled out in the headline) itospa.com/yamayaki
Access - Getting to Mt Omuro
Go to Atami Station on the JR Tokaido Line or a Kodama train of the Tokaido Shinkansen Line. Change there to the JR Ito Line towards Izukyu Shimoda. Get off at Ito Station.
There is a bus ticket counter at Ito Station. Buy a one day ticket for the Tokai Bus for 1,300 yen. That's cheaper than paying on the bus. It's also much less of a hassle since the Tokai buses don't accept SUICA / PASMO cards and you would have to have 710 yen ready in coins to pay for a one-way fare.
Take the bus from bus stop number 6 in front of Ito Station towards Shaboten Koen Park / Omuro Lift Station. (Shaboten Koen is a zoological garden just opposite the street from the Omuro Lift Station.)
The bus takes about 40 minutes from Ito Station to Shaboten Koen / Mount Omuro.
Bus schedule from Ito Station to Shaboten Koen / Mount Omuro (in Japanese)
Website: omuroyama.com (in Japanese)
English language website of the Izu Geo Park english.izugeopark.org