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.
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)