Top 5 Hikes in Takayama by our Travel Angel   高山ハイキング

Date of publication :
Mount Norikura

Mount Norikura

The best of the Japanese Alps

At the gateway to the mountains, Takayama is the ideal starting point for excursions into the countryside and the Japanese Alps. Perfect for Hikers and other nature lovers. 

Kamikochi Valley

Kamikochi Valley

Kamikochi Valley

In the heart of the Japanese Alps, go and get some air in the Kamikochi valley. Located between 1,400 and 1,600 meters above sea level, it is around fifteen kilometers long. The Azusa River feeds Lake Taisho, whose blue waters reflect the color of the sky. With any luck, you might spot a monkey bathing there.

The routes are aimed at walkers of all levels: they vary between one hour (easy) and 3-5 hours (medium difficulty). A mountain path offering a breathtaking view over the Japanese Alps is also available (difficult).

Kamikochi has several hotels and restaurants, in case you want to stay overnight and do several tours. Also take advantage of the rest areas scattered on the hiking trails to drink a cold drink or eat an ice cream, before continuing your route.

Access

From Takayma

  • By bus:

In the Nohi Bus Center, you can buy a full return ticket for 5,040 yen (approx. $47) for adults and 2,520 yen ($24) for children. One way ticket is 2,600 yen for adults and 1,300 yen for children.

The bus stop is right in front of the Nohi Bus center at bus stop number 5. Buses from Takayama station leave every hour from 7am until 6:40 pm (last bus). The bus will go to Hirayu bus terminal where you will need to change buses to the Kamikochi line. It takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes to travel to Kamikochi.

  • By car:

Since Kamikochi is a protected national park, you must first drive to Hirayu bus station and find the parking lot called "Akandana" (place this number in the GPS for exact directions: 0578-89-3477). 600 yen ($6) for the day.

Hiking Mt Norikura

Hiking Mt Norikura

Summit, Mt Norikura

Summit, Mt Norikura

Hiking Mount Norikura

Hiking Mount Norikura

Between lakes and mountains at Mount Norikura

Between lakes and mountains at Mount Norikura

Mount Norikura: an unforgettable experience

Mount Norikura: an unforgettable experience

Hikes to Mount Norikura

Mount Norikura (3,026 meters) is one of the 100 most beautiful mountains in Japan, and is the third highest in the northern Japanese Alps. Norikura is very easy to access thanks to its many buses, which run almost to the top. The mountain is particularly appreciated in the fall, when its foliage is ablaze.

Read: Koyo, autumn in red and gold

Several paths will take you to the top:

  • Alpine Plants Walk: around 1h30 (easy)

By taking this trail you can observe alpine plants and clouds at the edge of the mountain.

  • Mount Daikoku: about 1 hour (medium difficulty)

This tour gives you a great view of sunset and sunrise!

  • Mount Fujimi: about 2 hours (medium difficulty)

At the end of this route, you will find a hotel, restaurant, and stunning views of Mount Kengamine.

  • Norikura Observatory: around 1h30 (medium difficulty)

Do not miss a visit to the Mount Norikura observatory, for an overview of the rocky massif.

  • Mount Kengamine: 5 hours (difficult)

The top of Mount Kengamine will give you the best view of any tour! There you will find a sanctuary, from where you can float on "the sea of clouds".


Access

The access road to Mount Norikura is closed between November and mid-May from Gifu and from November to June via Nagano.

From Takayama

  • By bus:

From mid-May to October, buses leave every 1-2 hours from Hirayu Onsen via the Honokidaira parking lot to the Norikura bus terminal, near the summit (1 hour, 1,420 yen / $13 one way , 2,300 yen / $22 return). You can hire a taxi up the mountain (1 hour, about 8,000 yen / $75 one way). Hirayu Onsen can be reached in an hour and for 1,570 yen / $15 from Takayama by the Nohi Bus.

  • By car:

Private vehicles cannot travel within Norikura. You can come to the foot of the mountain and then you will have to change to the bus. On the Nagano flank, cars can come up to Sanbondaki at Norikura Kogen. If you are coming from Gifu, you can park at Hirayu onsen or at Honokidaira parking lot, outside of town.


Hiking path inGandate Chaya, near Takayama

Hiking path inGandate Chaya, near Takayama

Gandate Chaya waterfalls

Less than an hour from Takayama, Gandate Chaya is only accessible by car; taxis unfortunately do not venture to this beautiful park.

The hike has several wonderful trails, lasting 3 to 5 hours. The path itself varies: different scenery of forest, rivers and waterfalls follow one another. In the first half of the tour, you cross a series of suspension bridges, from where you can take photos of the 3 waterfalls. You then continue the trail in the mountain, in the direction of the largest waterfall.

In the middle of the trail, there is a large open field, with picnic tables: take a break to regain energy before continuing your ascent! Throughout the trail you will notice a bear bell system: strike the metal with a hammer to create enough noise to deter bears from approaching the trail. At the end of the path, you will see the large waterfall. Take a break to better admire this dreamlike place.

On your return, there is a small shop at the entrance to the trail that serves river fish. Tasting this local cuisine is a unique experience, to be tasted at the end of a long hike! To relax after a long day of walking, what better than a dip in the nearest onsen?

If you look online, there is no information on Gandate Chaya, which makes this place relatively unknown and therefore uncrowded.

Access: 50 min by car from Takayama.

Gandate Chaya Valley, near Takayama

Gandate Chaya Valley, near Takayama

Gandate Chaya Valley, near Takayama

Gandate Chaya Valley, near Takayama

Gandate Chaya Valley, near Takayama

Gandate Chaya Valley, near Takayama

Gandate Chaya Valley, near Takayama

Gandate Chaya Valley, near Takayama

Gandate Chaya Valley, near Takayama

Gandate Chaya Valley, near Takayama

Tateyama

Tateyama Kurobe

Tateyama Kurobe

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Road creates a passage through the Japanese Alps, passing through Mount Tateyama. The road, surrounded by landscapes of snow in winter, is crossed by many vehicles. You can take the Alpine route by cable car as well as by car. Located between Toyama and Nagano, the Alpine Road is accessible from major cities in each prefecture.

  • Tateyama - Midagahara

Culminating at 2,450 meters, the road offers plenty of entertainment, thanks to its hiking trails and its rich natural environment. Between Tateyama (475 meters) and Midagahara (1,930 meters), the Shomyo Falls are the highest in Japan. Roaring 350 meters high, they throw themselves into the gorge below. In the spring, the Hannoki Falls (500 meters) appear with the melting of the snow. In this area you can enjoy the spectacular landscape of these exceptional formations. With an altitude change of 600 meters, the alteration of the local flora is also visible. Thanks to the rest area and viewing platform, Shomyo Falls can be admired from different angles.

A little higher up, in Bijodaira (977 meters), set off to meet the thousand-year-old feminine cedar, standing among the cedar forest of Japan. The virgin forest of Bijodaira allows you to fully enjoy nature: hundred-year-old beeches, birds - including more than 60 species! - await you there.

Culminating at 1,900 meters, Midagahara is the highest humid alpine zone in Japan. Its hiking trail is surrounded by alpine plants and flowers. There are many interesting things to see in this area, including an observation platform from where you can see a caldera formed by volcanic activity more than 200,000 years ago.

  • Murodo

At 2,500 meters, the Murodo area is the highest on the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Road. This is where you can take a picture of the famous snow wall, Yuki no Otani. From the end of April to June, you can walk 500 meters between these icy walls.

The region of Tateyama is one of that enjoys the most abundant snowfall in the country; it accumulates an average of 7 meters of snow per year. In some years there is up to 20 meters of snow fall!

  • Daikanbo - Kurobe dam - Omachi

As you descend Mount Tateyama from Daikanbo Station (1,828 meters), enjoy panoramic views of the Kurobe Dam and the Japanese Alps.

Located 1,500 meters away, the Kurobe Dam is the tallest arched dam in Japan. The lake behind the dam contains 200 million cubic meters of water. The dam itself is 186 meters high. Every second, 10 cubic meters of water flow through the dam, producing one billion kilowatts per year. Around the dam, you can see a monument to the 171 workers who lost their lives during its construction. From June to November, cruises on the lake are also offered.

Finally, on the side of Ogizawa and Omachi, entrances to the Alpine road via Nagano, let yourself be tempted by the onsen of Omachi Onsenkyo. Near the bus parking lot, you will find establishments open to day trips, as well as an onsen museum. A sake museum - with tastings! - and another on the Japanese print, ukiyo-e, are also nearby.

Access:

By train: From Tokyo, via Nagano, take the Hokuriku Shinkansen (50 min) to JR Toyama station, then Dentestsu Toyama. Then change to Chiho Railroad (1h) to Tateyama station.

From Osaka / Komatsu / Nagoya: Via Kanazawa, take the Hokuriku Shinkansen (20 min) to JR Toyama, then Dentestsu Toyama. Then change to Chiho Railroad (1h) to Tateyama station.

More information on the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route website

Travel in complete freedom with the Takayama Alpine Pass

Hiking path at Tateyama Kurobe

Hiking path at Tateyama Kurobe

Shin hotaka

The mountain at Shin Hotaka

The mountain at Shin Hotaka

Shin Hotaka Cable Car is located between Shin Hotaka and Shakujo Mountains in Okuhida region near Takayama. It is one of the most unique in the country as it rises more than 1,000 meters above the Hotaka mountain range. This range includes Mount Hotakadake (3,190 meters), the third highest peak in Japan.

To reach the summit, you have to take the first cable car that will take you to Nabedairakogen station (1,305 meters). There you will find something to eat and take a good hot bath ( Kamitakara no yu, 9:30 am to 3 pm; 600 yen / 5 € ). There is even a small gallery, a souvenir shop and a tourist office. A 2.3 km hiking trail starts from Nabedairakogen and goes deep into the forest. In winter, it turns into a snowshoe tour.

Then take the second cable car - the second longest in the world, which will lift you up to an altitude of 2,156 meters (Nishihotakaguchi station). Once at the top, enjoy the view from the panoramic terrace, over the Nishihotaka, Yarigatake and Kasagatake mountains . A cafe, restaurant and souvenir shop are also available. The "Echo mailbox" system allows you to send a postcard from the top.

From June to September, a hiking trail starts from the highest station and leads to Mount Nishiho (90 min); from where it is possible to reach the valley of Kamikochi (about 2h30). You can also continue the ascent to Nishihotakadake (3 hours). Please note, this last hike is reserved for experienced athletes.

Access

From Takayama

By bus: from Takayama to Hirayu (1h), then from Hirayu to Shin Hotaka (40 min).

By car: take national 158 via Hirayu, about 70 min. You will find car parks at Shin Hotaka Onsen (230 spaces) and at Nabedairakogen Station (790 spaces). The latter is closed in winter. Price: 500-600 yen (around $5-6).

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