Watch the Wonder Mountains video, (taken from Marunuma Kougen) to get you inspired by Nikko-Shirane san’s beauty!
Nikko-Shirane san is Japan’s highest mountain in the north of the Kanto region. This volcano is located on the border of Gunma and Tochigi prefecture and is part of the Nikko National Park. There are two ways to reach the peak of Nikko-Shirane san, which is considered as one of Japan’s 100 greatest mountains.
Start at Marunuma Kougen and step onto the ropeway to take you from 1,400m to 2,000m. A roundtrip on this panoramic ride costs 1,900 yen per person. When you step out of the ropeway there is a lot to enjoy – the view obviously, but in addition there is a rock garden, Shirane-san’s shrine, a hot foot bath (foot-bath in the sky) and a restaurant. However, before you settle down to rest, you may want to start the adventure trail to the peak of Nikko-Shirane san first. This trail joins with option 2 at Lake Midagaike. The roundtrip from the Marunuma Ropeway Plateau to the height of 2,578m takes approximately 5 hours.
If you enjoy hiking then this is definitely the option for you. Start off at Lake Sugenuma and hike up from there. At first the trails begins as relatively flat forest ground. However, shortly after, the path starts to incline and there is a steady upward hike for the first 4km through the forest.
At the small Alpine lake called ‘Midagaike’ the trail joins together with the path from the Marunuma Ropeway plateau.This is where the steepest part of the trail begins. You will need your hands to climb up the last metres in order to reach the peak of 2,578m. If the sky is clear, the view from this volcano is just breathtaking! Enjoy the great panoramic vista of the Japanese landscape enriched by mountains, lakes, meadows and forests. At the top of the volcano there is also place to put up your tent if you want to stay for the night to closely marvel at the starry night sky.
It can get a bit cold up there in between the clouds, so make sure to bring a jacket with you! Steady shoes are also recommended as you can easily trip or twist you ankle on the small volcanic rocks.
We were a bit unlucky with the weather – the peak was covered in fog!
A curvy path on volcanic rock descends the mountain on the east side. I would recommend climbing down here, through fields of yellow alpine flowers and a mysterious forest.
Walking down on a moon-like landscape
Nikko-Shirane san also has a little emergency hut with beds and blankets that are free for use in case of an unexpected storm. Continue past this emergency station through the open alpine meadow to reach the Goshiki-numa.
There are several places where visitors stop to pray for a safe hike
‘Goshiki-numa’ can be translated to 5-colours-swamp, so try to spot the different colours of the glistening water of this lake. The trail then leads back to Lake Midagaike and back down to Sugenuma.
As I really enjoy hiking at a steady pace, this roundtrip of about 8km and a change in altitude of 800m took as 5 hours but it may differ per individual.
Goshikinuma as seen from the peak
There are a lot more sights to discover in the Nikko-mountains. Some people hike for several days to explore the region, so this specific adventure trail is just one example many.
Be courageous and go on an adventure to get inspired by this beautiful world – it has so much to offer!
More information & hiking map: http://www.marunuma.jp/nature/hiking/