Hiking – Shoumaru and Mt.Izugatake
A great day trip from Tokyo is heading to the mountains near Chichibu and hiking 851m Mt.Izugatake (伊豆ヶ岳).
A 90-minute train ride from Ikebukuro takes you to Shoumaru Station (正丸駅), from where the 12km walk begins.
the walk (in brief)
Straight out of the station you hit a truly bizarre flights of stairs, angling diagonally down a slope next to the tracks. Descending gives a strange sense of walking in two directions simultaneously. It’s kind of awkward and a memorable beginning to the hike.
From here we head into the mountains, although it’s probably more accurate to call them beautiful forested hills.
(click all images to enlarge)
Lovely moss and wildflowers over rocks in a clear, gentle stream.
The road heads up to the trail, with lush forest already surrounding the way. Mt. Izugatake lies southwest from Shoumaru.
In the forest, wonderful spindly tree roots cover a mountainside.
Approaching the summit, the view opens out and the vista across the other tree-covered mountains is stunning.
Climbing higher to a nice pile of rocks towards the top. We sat here to eat lunch, gazing out and bathing in the sunshine. Butterflies flitted around us. Quite magical.
Way down below, small houses and winding mountain roads.
A really cool tree with a face looks out across the mountains.
Many kinds of interesting mountain wildflowers grow, and a huge variety of cute insects hop and fly.
Away from the summit, the path becomes dimly lit as hundreds of clean vertical trunks rise up forming a thick canopy and deep shadows. Very atmospheric, with the forest sounds and the warm air, and the smell of thick vegetation.
From Izugatake, the hike takes in Mt.Takahata (高畑山) at 695 metres and Nenogongen Temple, before descending to Agano Station (吾野駅).
a great hiking resource
The author, who goes by the name Savvy, has put together one of the best, most comprehensive resources I know on hikes and walks, both in nature and the city.
He writes incredibly detailed descriptions, complete with map coordinates, times and difficulty rankings, and all documented with dozens of photographs.