Mt. Azumaya (四阿山)

Mt. Azumaya is a dormant volcano overlooking nearby Mt. Asama. It’s one of the few places where you can see cherry blossoms in May, and the panoramic views of the Kita Alps are second to none when the cloud isn’t in.

Mt. Azumaya

The hike: From the bus stop, hike up the road toward Dabosu dairy farm (ダボス牧場). The trail starts from the farm, where you’ll see tons of cows in the summer. There are 2 different ways up the mountain, so I’ll describe a loop hike. Follow the signposts straight ahead to Mt. Neko (根子岳). It should take around 2 hours of moderate hiking to reach the summit. If the weather is clear then you’ll be completely surrounded by the Japan Alps! It really is one of the best views of the Alps anywhere in Japan. From the top of Mt. Neko, you can see the peak of Mt. Azumaya to the east. You’ve got to drop about 200m of altitude, down to a scenic valley that’ll have lingering snow in May. The descent is steep and rocky but gradually flattens out. From the low point, it’s a 300m vertical ascent to the summit. It should take about 90 minutes to traverse between the 2 peaks. Along the way, you’ll reach a trail junction, but head left to reach the top. The summit area is small and rocky, but the views of Mt. Asama are wonderful. Retrace your steps to the junction, but instead of going back to Mt. Neko, continue straight ahead to Mt. Naka-azumaya (中四阿). From here, keep descending for about 90 minutes and you’ll eventually reach the pastures again. Take a right when you hit the road in front of the cows, and you’ll be back at the parking lot. Reward yourself with delicious ice cream made from the milk at the farm!

When to go: This hike can be done year round if you take the helicopter to the top of Mt. Neko (根子岳)! (no joke on the heli-skiiing). Otherwise, aim for an ascent bewteen April and November. I did this hike in May and there was still a little snow in the valley between Mt. Neko and Mt. Azumaya. Click here for a report of a person who skied to the top in March.

Access: From Nagano station, take either a local train or a Shinkansen to Ueda station (上田駅). The local train takes about 40 minutes, while the Shinkansen takes a whopping 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can take the Nagano Shinkansen from Tokyo and get off at Ueda. From Ueda station, take a bus bound for Sugadaira (菅平) and get off at the Sugadaira-kogen bus stop (菅平高原). Click here for the bus schedule. If you’ve got a car, then you can drive to the actual trailhead, which is a one hour walk from the bus stop.

Level of difficulty: 2 out of 5 (elevation change ~900m)

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8 Comments on “Mt. Azumaya (四阿山)”

  1. Darrell Says:

    Hello Wes,

    Thanks so much for the website, I’ve been able to follow my Hyakumeizan endeavours thanks in part to your blog.

    I have a question about a winter ascent here. Besides the heli-skiing, have you heard of a winter tour bus from Tokyo to the Sugadaira Ski Resort? I’ve been looking at this website: , and there seems to be a number of buses to the Sugadaira ski resort, but I’m not sure if I can access the trailhead from the ski resort, or whether is it the same Sugadaira or not.

    It’s been years since you posted this entry, but if you remember seeing a ski resort in the area, let me know if your time allows. Thanks!


    • wes Says:


      Yes, there certainly is a ski resort in the area, and it looks to be a pretty big one at that. There are definitely ski buses from Tokyo run by private companies. There’s a list of 3 of them if you scroll down to the bottom of the access page:

      Here’s a map of the ski resort:

      As you can see, in the Davos area of the resport there’s a lift that goes most of the way up Mt. Neko. From there, a “Snow Cat” can take you the rest of the way to the summit of Mt. Neko, but you’d have to book an extra ticket and sign up for a guided tour. Instead of doing that, you can just follow the snow cat tracks to the top!

      From the top of Mt. Neko, it’s a big drop to a valley followed by a final push to the summit of Azumaya. Be careful of avalanches in the final climb and bring both snowshoes and crampons: there’s about 2 meters of snow on the mountain at the moment.

      Hopefully there will be other climbers or at least a trace that you can follow to make things easier. Sounds like a fun plan and the views of the Kita Alps from there are spectacular on a clear weather day.


  2. Darrell Says:


    Thanks for the lightening fast reply! I would have never found that information by myself so I’m glad I wrote. It does sound like a great plan! I’ll try to do this as a day trip using a bus ski/tour package. Thanks for the avalanche caution as well. I’ll be avi ready for sure! Hopefully I can orient myself after reaching Neko-dake. I guess I’ll just look for the nearby tallest peak!

    By the way, I’ve been meaning to post updated bus information for many of your links. Many of them are years out-of-date as you are aware. I hope you don’t mind me doing so, to help out fellow hikers.
    I’ve climbed so many peaks in winter thanks to this invaluable resource, so after each climb I’ve been meaning to post the updated bus info. Cheers.


    • wes Says:


      Cheers for offering to post updated bus information. That’d be a great help. Yeah, some of the links are well-outdated. The main problem is that the bus companies create a new webpage every year for the new bus schedules and delete the older ones, resulting in lots of broken links. I don’t have the time to go back and correct every post, so let me know which ones you find that have dead links.

      Many thanks

      • Darrell Says:

        Hey Wes,

        Just like to provide a trip report for those interesting in a winter climb of Azumaya using the ski lift.
        First of all, using an inexpensive ski bus tour package from Tokyo, the closest drop-off point to Davos ski area is the Sugadaira Kokusai ski resort. From here, there is NO shuttle bus to the Davos area. You could take a taxi or walk for 40 minutes. But the walk is a little complicated and you’d have to constantly ask for directions.
        Secondly, once at the top of the lift, the hike from the top of the ski lift to Neko-dake took longer than I thought. Approximately 1:20 mins. If you’re short on time, you might want to take the snow cat, but it’s pretty expensive at 3000 YEN!
        Thirdly, (the most disappointing part for me), the descent down to the col between Neko and Azumaya is a rocky precarious ridge. In the winter, especially after a heavy snowfall, the ridgeline is severly corniced. Although I’m trained in winter mountaineering, I would not have dared tried to traverse that corniced ridge without a tie-in partner! Moreso, although the col is a forested valley, it is still a huge terrain trap for avalanches, so I would not recommend traversing between these two summits, especially after a recent snowfall (making an unstable snowpack and doubtful looking cornices), unless some brave soul has already boot packed a trail, or you have a partner with some winter mountaineering experience. I was also informed that if I decided to make the traverse, there were no helicopter rescues available at the time! So I decided to err on the side of caution =) Frankly I’m not sure how people ski toured up to Azumaya along that rocky ridge. Maybe I missed a different path? Anyway I was pretty bummed for not being able to bag this hyaukumeizan, despite Azumaya being only 500 metres away!
        Having said this, the hike to Neko-dake on a clear day was well worth it and absolutely stunning, maybe one of the best views of the Alps I have seen so far. I spent my extra time on Neko-dake just gazing upon the land, trying to identify the summits surrounding me.
        And don’t forget your skis or snowboard as it’s a great run down! On a last note, downloading on the lift is not allowed. I snowshoed up, and was surprised when they told me “dame” to download. How was I supposed to get down? Luckily the kind folks gave me a free lift on a snowmobile ALL the way down the mountain. Great fun! Also the lift is only 500 YEN if you decide to snowshoe/crampon up. Not recommended as a day trip, as the tour bus drops you off at 11:30, leaving you only 5 hours to return to your bus back home.

        Yes, I’ll definitely post new links with your permission and let you know of broken ones. We should all contribute somehow to this site you’ve made for us. =) Can’t imagine either how time consuming it must be too.


      • wes Says:


        Many thanks for the detailed trip report. Sorry you could not make it to the summit but at least you could enjoy those outstanding views from Nekodake. I was also taken aback by the view of the Alps from there.

        I didn’t realize how corniced that ridge would get, so thanks for the heads up. My guess is that the skiers must approach the mountain from further south via Naka-Azumaya (中四阿). It seems like that approach is only possible with your own transport. I descended via that route and, while long, I don’t remember it being that steep (but is was May and all of the snow had melted),

        Thanks for the offer to post new links. You could either do it as a comment on each individual hike, or just do it as a comment under the “Broken Links” page that I have created.



  3. StewartJ Says:

    Hi Wes

    From your access description, it is unclear which Sugadaira Kogen bus stop you are supposed to get off at to then hike up the road to trail head and then head to Neko dake. The bus timetable seems to have more than one Sugadaira Kogen bus stops. Can you shed further light on this?

    • wes Says:

      That’s a very good question Stewart, as I didn’t actually take the bus when I climbed the peak. My map just calls the bus stop Sugadaira, so the best thing to do is to ask the bus driver when you board the bus. Tell him you want to get off near Azumaya tozanguchi or Sugadaira bokujo. The drivers are usually really helpful and know the area better than anyone. I know you have to walk a ways from the bus stop uphill towards the trailhead, but it should be easy to find in good weather because you can see the mountain at the top of the hill.

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