Mt. Tsurugi (剣山）
Mt. Tsurugi, not to be confused with Mt. Tsurugi in the Kita Alps, is the 2nd tallest mountain in Western Japan, and one of only 2 Hyakumeizan on Shikoku island. The top is very overdeveloped and slightly disappointing, so if you’re not climbing the Hyakumeizan, then I’d recommend heading for Mt. Miune, which is on the same ridge line but a little further to the west.
The hike: From the bus stop, head up the road a little until you find the trailhead (登山口) next to the shrine. The path pretty much parallels the lift, and at one point will go directly under it through a small tunnel. It’s only a 300m vertical climb to the top of the lift, so why anyone would waste their money on such an idiotic contraption is beyond me. At the top of the lift, you’ll find a 3-way junction and campground. You can either take the trail on the left directly to the summit, or take the middle trail which will also get you there via Otsurugi shrine (大剣神社). There is a natural mineral spring here that supposedly has ‘great tasting’ water. The summit is a short walk behind the shrine. The top is very disappointing, with a weather tower, hut, and lots of concrete and gravel. If you want to have lunch somewhere a little more ‘authentic’, then I would recommend heading down towards Jirogyu-toge (ジロウギュウ峠) and up to Mt. Jirogyu (ジロウギュウ). The views are much more breathtaking here, and it’s completely undeveloped. From here you can either retrace your steps back to Mi-no-koshi, or do a full traverse of the entire mountain range over to Miune (三嶺). I also recommend doing the full traverse if you’ve got the time, energy, and necessary supplies (although I did it in reverse – starting at Miune and ending at Tsurugi).
When to go: This hike can be done year round if you’ve got your own transport. Winter is probably the best time, since the lift won’t be running and all of the huts will be closed (and the peak deserted). Click here to see the winter scenery.
Access: From Tokushima station, (徳島駅), take a JR limited express train and get off at Sadamitsu station (貞光駅). The train takes about 45 minutes and costs 2300 yen. A local train takes 70 minutes but only costs 1060 yen. From Sadamitsu, take a special microbus bound for Mi-no-koshi (見の越). The buses only run from July 19th to August 24th, so outside of this date there are no bus services to Mt. Tsurugi. Click here for the bus schedule. I must admit that I haven’t taken the bus and hitchhiked all the way from Tokushima station (and back).
Level of difficulty: 1 out of 5 (elevation change 535m). If you take the gondola then it’s a 0 out of 5.