Hyakumeizan: Climbing Japan's 100 Famous Mountains

By Ginger Vaughn

#86 Takatsuma-yama


I left Tokyo with a few friends long before the sun came up and started on the trail around 8 a.m. Everyone was groggy from lack of sleep except for my friend, Kana, and we slept like zombies the entire way in the car.

The first hour starting from Togakushi campground was a smooth walk through the rich forest and, even though it was mid-autumn, the mountain felt like winter had already been there a while.

A few mild stream crossings turned out to be a little tricky, as the water had froze in some parts, making everything slippery ice underneath. We were happy to use the pre-existing ropes that were nailed into the mountain in order to ascend past the mountain streams and into higher territory.

Though we were a month too late to see the wild flowers which bloom at high altitude on the mountain, we arrived just in time for the perfect blend of reds, oranges and yellows of leaves in the forest. Everyone wanted to stop to take photos, including myself, but I was afraid we would end up low on daylight hours. We picked up our pace, but it proved to be not fast enough.

At the summit we were all exhausted from the effort, but we still had enough daylight to see the many overlapping ranges in the distance. After a late lunch in the midst of amazing views, we all forgot our exhaustion for a moment. Clouds began rolling in, and the time was late. As we put on our headlights, we took a deep breath for the night hike awaiting us.

Trail Tips: This hike is long for a day-hike and can be tricky in the middle where you’ll be required to cross a shallow rocky stream. The last hour before reaching the summit of Takatsuma-san can be a bit strenuous; therefore it is recommended to start the hike early in the morning with plenty of daylight on your side. Camping the night before near the trailhead is a good idea.

Mountain: Takatsuma-yama
Difficulty Level: 3 out of 5
Location: Nagano Prefecture
Peak: 2,353 meters
Duration: Day hike
When to go: May-October
How to get there: Take the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano. At Nagano station, transfer to a bus bound for Togakushi Campground. The trailhead starts from Togakushi Campground.

Getting There
Tokyo Station ⇒ Nagano Station ⇒ Togakushi Campground
(1 hr., 52 mins., ¥8,170) ⇒ (1 hr., 15 mins., \1,360)

Things to bring
Raingear, flashlight, map, camera, sunscreen, water, camera, gloves, sunglasses, warm hat, walking stick (optional).

Contact Information
Togakushi Tourist Information: (026) 254-2326
Nagano Kanko Taxi: (026) 226-1234

Things not to miss:
Between the months of May and October, various flowers which bloom
in high altitude, such as Mizu-basho and Togakushi-winechin, can be seen
along the mountain.

Recommended Hiking Schedule
Day 1: 8 hours, 5 minutes.