Mt. Norikura (乗鞍岳)

Mt. Norikura is a massive volcanic edifice located between Kamikochi and Mt. Ondake on the Nagano-Gifu border. Famed for summer skiiing, the peak affords awe-inspiring views of the Japan Alps.

Mt. Norikura

The hike: From the ugly, overdeveloped parking lot at Tatami-daira, take the trail to Fujimidake (富士見岳). It should take about 20 minutes or so to reach the top, depending on how well you’ve adjusted to the altitude. The views are stunning, especially looking toward the Kita Alps! From the top, continue on the same trail until you hit a small, paved service road. Hike along the road (I know, I wish it weren’t so overdeveloped either!) until you reach a hut called Katanogoya (肩の小屋). From this hut to the high point of Kengamine (剣ケ峰), it’s a pleasant, well-maintained alpine trail. It should take about an hour or so from the hut to the top. The views are incredible, and if you came on the weekend in nice weather, you’ll be sharing them with heaps of others! Continue back the way you came, or consider descending all the way to Norikura-kogen to save some money.

When to go: The roads to Tatami-daira are closed from November to May, so you’ve basically limited to this time period unless you’d like to try a winter hike. Click here for a report in Japanese of a guy who climbed in March!

Access: Private cars are not allowed to the trailhead at Tatamidaira (畳平), so you have to take a bus from either Norikura-kogen (乗鞍高原)or Hirayu-onsen (平湯温泉). Please note that the buses start running from July 1st to October 31st on the Norikura-kogen side, but from May 15th to October 31st on the Hirayu side. Click here for the Norikura-kogen bus and here for the Hirayu bus. Bicycles are allowed on the road, so that would be another option. Or you could start hiking from Norikura-kogen, a trail which pretty much parallels the road but requires a 1500m elevation change. You can get to Norikura-kogen by bus from Shin-shimashima station, which is about an hour by train from Matsumoto station.

Live web cam: Click here

Level of difficulty: 1 out of 5 (elevation change 416m)

Explore posts in the same categories: Nagano hikes (長野県)

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6 Comments on “Mt. Norikura (乗鞍岳)”

  1. Gary Wolff Says:

    Thanks, Wes, for this very informative page. Climbed this peak 18 yrs. ago with some wild Japanese guys when we hiked w/ ski boots & poles to the summit and then skied down.

    But all I still have from that trip are a few snapshots (LONG before the digicame was in vogue), so your route description & other details were very useful in helping reconstruct the memories of this climb in my aging brain. :-)

    Great site, btw…

    Gary in Tokyo

    • wes Says:

      Cheers for the kind words Gary. Someday I’d like to re-climb this peak, starting from the base, as the bus ride to Tatami-daira takes the fun out of the hike.

      I hope you’re able to finish climbing every peak in the Alps. Judging from your site, it looks like you’ve pretty much covered them all over the years

  2. Gary Wolff Says:

    Thanks, Wes. Yes, I’ve probably set some kind of record for taking the longest time in history (2 decades) to climb Japan’s 25 highest peaks . :-)

    You have a great site and I’ve been a big fan of it since hearing your interview by Alex Brooke on one of his Learn Japanese podcasts a couple of years back. I refer to it often and even linked to it as well as your Hyakumeizan site in July of last year.

    I figured it was finally time to say thanks. :-) You’re providing a great service to English-speaking climbers in Japan, and please keep up the good work. Hope to meet you someday…


  3. Marina Says:

    Hi,Wes! Is it possible to climb Mt.Norikura in first half of May?

    • wes Says:


      It appears that the buses start running from May 15th, though I have heard that people go up there during Golden Week to ski. There are no private cars allowed on the road to Tatami-daira, so I’m assuming there must be a shuttle bus from Norikura-kogen. Unfortunately Alpico Group has not released the 2012 bus schedule yet, so I can’t confirm for sure. Your best bet would be to ask at the tourist information desk in either Takayama or Matsumoto, depending on where you’ll be coming from. The shuttle bus is sometimes stopped during rainy or snowy weather, so keep that in mind when you plan your trip.

      There will still be a lot of snow in May, so make sure you bring light crampons and a trekking pole. Even if you can’t climb to the high point of Ken-ga-mine, it will still be fun to walk around Tatami-daira and enjoy the snow-covered alpine scenery and watch the skiers!

  4. Zayna Says:

    Hi there, I hope you will read this…
    I would like to descent from Mt. Norikura towards Norikura-kogen (and on to the waterfalls) this summer. How long would that take and in what condition is the trail?

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