Mt. Arashima (荒島岳）
Mt. Arashima is a beautiful peak towering over Ono city in Fukui Prefecture. The summit yields glorious panoramic views of Hakusan, the Japan Alps, and the peaks of the northern Kansai region.
The hike: Exit the train station and turn left on the road just in front of you. Walk for about 20 minutes until reaching the parking lot of Kadohara Ski Resort (勝原スキー場). There’s no water on this hike, so make sure you fill up before setting off. The trail runs straight through the ski fields and then curves to the right just past the top of the first lift. After about 40 minutes or so, you’ll reach the top of the ski resort, and the trail will enter the forest. The forest is beautiful, covered with virgin Beech trees which turn yellow in the autumn. The path is well marked but is anything but flat. It’ll take around an hour & a half of relentless climbing to reach Shakunage-daira (シャクナゲ平), which is known in English as “rhododendron plateau”. Have some fun teaching the Japanese hikers how to pronounce the English for this plant during your ascent. Anyway, the trail splits in 3 different directions. If you take the trail to the right, you can climb to the top of Mt. Ko-Arashima (小荒島岳), which has breathtaking views out to the real Mt. Arashima. If you’re short of time or just can’t be bothered, then ignore this trail and hang a left toward the towering peak. It should take around an hour or so to reach the flat summit and if the weather is good then you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of Hakusan. After taking a well-deserved break, head back the way you came and consider hitchhiking back to Fukui or just wait for the infrequent train to come.
When to go: This hike can be done year round if you’ve got the proper equipment (and experience) for winter hiking. Otherwise, aim to go between April and November. Click here for a report about a Japanese group who climbed in Jan. 2008 and you can get some idea of how much snow this mountain gets.
Access: From Osaka or Kyoto stations, take a JR Limited Express “Thunderbird” train bound for Toyama and get off at Fukui station. From there, change to the JR Etsumihoku Line (越美北線) and get off at Kadohara station (勝原駅). The train takes about an hour and is very infrequent. If you don’t make the 9:08 train, the next one isn’t until after noon and you’ll never make it up the mountain in time.
Level of difficulty: 3 out of 5 (elevation change 1263m)