fbpx
    • Spring
      • video

        Finding the Flow from Kansai to Kochi

        Shikoku’s many mountains, valleys and proximity to the ocean has made it a hidden gem for rafting, kayaking and canyoning enthusiasts willing to take a step or two further from the Golden Route of Kyoto and Osaka.

        Solace and Giant Salamanders in Akiota

        Just beyond Hiroshima City is a tranquil outdoor destination home to some of Japan's last remaining oosanshouo, the elusive giant salamander.
        Kyoto Oni Trail Outdoor Japanvideo

        The Oni Trail: Hiking Coastal Kyoto

        The mystical oni is prevalent in Japanese children’s stories, usually as a way to scare kids straight. Adventure Travel Kyoto is shedding a new light on this folklore and developing a new hiking route in the countryside of Kyoto.
    • Summer
      • the nomad pasche family

        The World is Our Playground

        The Pasche family has been cycling and living out of a tent in remote corners of the planet for the past 13 years on four continents spanning 50 countries.
        adventure travel world summit in hokkaido

        Adventure Travel World Summit in Hokkaido

        The ATTA will host their first Adventure Travel World Summit in Asia in Hokkaido, Japan. We caught up with ATTA Director Shannon Stowell to find out more about the adventure travel industry and how it continues to grow and evolve.
        mead brewing in japan

        The Sweet Secrets of Brewing Mead

        Wander into the world of mead brewing and find yourself immersed in a fascinating journey spanning centuries and continents.
        the knights in white lycra

        The Knights in White Lycra

        Each year a group of cyclists head to the deep north towards Tohoku’s vast rice fields and coastal trails to help transform the lives of neglected children.
        sea to table yamagata

        Sea to Table in Yamagata

        An unforgettable way to intimately explore the Shonai Region in Yamagata is a culinary experience bringing bounty of the sea straight to your table.
    • Autumn
    • Winter
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
        ainu tour daniel moore outdoor japan hokkaido

        Heritage Hunting in Hokkaido

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
        shizukuishi skiing snowboarding outdoor japan

        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
    • Near Tokyo
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Near Kyoto
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • River and Lake
      • ainu tour daniel moore outdoor japan hokkaido

        Heritage Hunting in Hokka...

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
        getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Snow and Ice
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
        shizukuishi skiing snowboarding outdoor japan

        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
        togari onsen outdoor japan

        Northern Shinshu’s Secret Stash

        A weak yen, revenge travel, and excellent ski conditions have led to high demand, booking out popular resorts like Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen this year. Fortunately, lesser-known gems like Togari Onsen, near Nozawa Onsen and Madarao, offer charming alternatives for powder seekers.
    • Travel
      • Okinawa’s Treehouse Oasis

        Tucked away in the lush jungles of Okinawa is an eco-conscious retreat called Treeful Treehouse. This sustainable resort is an immersive experience that invites guests to reconnect with nature.
        video

        The Spirit of the Kuma Valley

        Travelers to Japan undoubtedly view sake as the traditional liquor of Japan. Histori-cally they wouldn’t be wrong, since Sudō Honke, the world’s oldest sake brewery (and one of the oldest companies in the world), was founded in 1141 in Ibaraki Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. However Southern Japan is home to another authentic Japanese spirit—shochu, which was first produced about 500 years ago, its roots firmly planted in Japan’s warmer southern climes.
        camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Okinawa’s Treehouse Oasis

        Tucked away in the lush jungles of Okinawa is an eco-conscious retreat called Treeful Treehouse. This sustainable resort is an immersive experience that invites guests to reconnect with nature.
        video

        The Spirit of the Kuma Valley

        Travelers to Japan undoubtedly view sake as the traditional liquor of Japan. Histori-cally they wouldn’t be wrong, since Sudō Honke, the world’s oldest sake brewery (and one of the oldest companies in the world), was founded in 1141 in Ibaraki Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. However Southern Japan is home to another authentic Japanese spirit—shochu, which was first produced about 500 years ago, its roots firmly planted in Japan’s warmer southern climes.
        camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
    • Races and Events
      • sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.

        Winter News and Notes

        Check out the latest news and winter events held at ski resorts all over Japan in 2024!
        dd4d brewing

        DD4D Brewing

        In nearly e...

Mizugaki’s Precious Stones

Having scoured the globe for rocks to climb, imagine my excitement when I discovered a priceless gem not far from my new home in Japan. 

Before moving to Japan, I spent hours searching for places where I could get on some rock. I wanted to be well prepared before I arrived, so I could get out and explore some of Japan’s best rock climbing areas. I was having trouble finding information in English but, as luck would have it, I bumped into a Tokyo-based climber at my local crag shortly before leaving for Japan.  

“There are many boulders waiting for you in Japan, so hurry and come on over,” he told me, smiling ear to ear.  

His name is Jack Nakane, and he gave me his e-mail address and asked me to contact him once I landed.  

I arrived on a Friday in late July and, by Monday, I was itching to go climbing. I picked up the phone to call Jack, and my eagerness was met with an equal amount of excitement on the other end of the line. He mapped out a plan for us the very next day. He would introduce me to one of the most inspiring rock climbing areas in Japan, Mt. Mizugaki.  

After a two-hour drive from Tokyo and a quick, though interesting, stop at my first conbini (convenience store), we arrived at Mizugaki’s main parking area. Although heavily jet-lagged, I was awed by the beauty and variety of formations and spires that lay before me. The sun was high, the sky was blue and my energy took off like a wild horse.  

“Let’s get the pads,” I said to Jack.  

He just laughed and opened the hatch to his car. Jack took me to a sector with hundreds of untouched rock waiting for a bit of a scrubbing from a brush, a technique climbers use to remove excess moss and to add friction to the rock. He showed me around, pointing out what he considered some of the best boulders in the area, asking me what I thought.  

“I am super tired, but I want to come back here with you as often possible. I love this place. What’s the name again?” I asked.  

I must have sounded like an overly excited kid, because as soon as the words left my mouth, Jack laughed, adding I was welcome anytime.  

Two years and too many trips to count later, a great friendship has formed and the high friction granite at Mizugaki has affected me in ways I did not expect.

On the Rocks  

Mt. Mizugaki is located within scenic Chichibu Tama Kai National Park. The houses, shops and other buildings with which the country is over-saturated are nowhere to be found here in the mountains.  

Although over the past two years I have kept busy helping develop new bouldering spots, the area is most notable for its sport and traditional climbing. That said, the bouldering at Mizugaki is some of the best I have seen. The variety of features and handholds is impressive, ranging from basketball-shaped “slopers” to razor-sharp two-finger pockets that leave your skin screaming.  

There are many areas from which to choose, no matter your climbing ability. The main bouldering area is located just up the main trail that leads to the breathtaking spires of which you catch a glimpse from the parking area. This trail splits several times but, with a little guidance, you will find your way, and even if you take a wrong turn, nearly all the trails lead to some fantastic climbing or bouldering.  

The well-worn trails are wide and immaculately maintained. To make it even easier, most of the developed boulders are within a 30-minute walk from the main parking area through beautiful cedar and evergreens.  

Some of the main “problems” you’ll encounter are Mizugaki Lie Back V3, Frequent Flyer V5 and Kumite V10. They are surrounded by numerous other problems and “blocks” that will keep you busy for days, if not weeks.  

The route climbing is not to be overlooked, with literally hundreds of routes from which to choose. Kasameri, located on the farthest reaches of Mizugaki, is an ideal spot for intermediate to expert climbers. Don’t miss Razors Edge 5.10c/d, Alligator, Alligator 5.11b, Sandal of Gold 5.12a and the excellent Top Gun 5.13a.  

If you are new to climbing, I would suggest going to Mizugaki with an experienced climber who can show you the ropes and help locate the best climbs for your level. Shoku Ju Shai, the lowest area on the southwest side of the mountain, is a good place for newbies. Yet, even here, like the rest of Mizugaki, there are plenty of traditional and sport routes, so be sure to bring some cams if you want try some of them.  

The climbing at Mizugaki is fairly straightforward; after one trip you should get a feel of geography, and then you can really start exploring these misty mountains. Regardless, there will undoubtedly be several climbers in the main parking area ready and willing to help if you need some pointers.  

I’ve found Japanese climbers to be very helpful and considerate. They’ll often take the extra time to personally show you where to go. Be friendly and, before you know it, you may meet some new climbing buddies.  

While Mizugaki is a special place for me, there are other excellent climbing areas as well. Ogawayama, located on the northern side of Mizugaki, offers the same quality of granite, but is much more crowded. Mitake, in the Okutama area (and technically still in Tokyo) is one of the closest climbing areas to central Tokyo and one the most overused climbing spots I’ve seen. I have been to several areas in the U.S. and Italy that rival Mitake for popularity, but some of Mitake’s holds are as polished as a marble countertop.  

Japan has a long, rich alpine history and, like in the USA, for many years alpine climbers considered climbing on boulders as a waste of time. Yet, the climbing scene evolved into more technical climbing, and climbers started using the smaller blocks of rock as training ground for testing difficult feats before heading out on larger expeditions.

It was not until the 1980s when bouldering found its place among the climbing scene. Today it is a fun and popular way to learn how to solve problems, and Mizugaki has many problems to solve on the rock.

As a climber who has spent much of the past five years traveling and climbing, I can honestly say the rock quality, routes and climbing community is on par with other established climbing areas around the world. Yet what makes climbing in Japan special is the influence Japan itself has on the climbing scene. This you have to experience for yourself and, if you come to Mizugaki, you just may discover why I’ve been in love with the area since that first hot, humid day in late July.

USEFUL INFO  

Japan is the land of convenience, and Mt. Mizugaki is no exception. The main parking area boasts a well-equipped mountain hut with running water, cleaning stations, fire pits, bathrooms and home cooked meals from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. excluding holidays. They even serve ice cream during warmer months, and I have found some amazing ceramic art and glassware.  

There is an official guidebook for the route climbing at Mizugaki in Japan’s 100 (Book 3), which can be bought at any mountain shop or online via Amazon. If you are in the Tokyo area, stop by Calafate in Mejiro, widely considered Japan’s top climbing store where Jack, the knowledgeable manager, will show you where to grab the guidebook, answer any questions and, if you need climbing gear, Calafate will have it. Web: www.calafate.co.jp  

My favorite time to climb in Mizugaki is October to December. I will go for two or three days and really unwind and enjoy it. It’s not uncommon for me to travel with my 2-year-old son and boulder with friends for a couple of days. I have seen the odd black bear, but they are generally fearful of people and have never been a problem, and the campground is surrounded by an electric fence for extra peace of mind.  

I recommend going to Mizugaki during the week and using the pay camping at the main parking area. Since Rock and Snow published a story on Mizugaki, the crowds seem to have doubled on weekends, with the worst crowds on Sundays.  

If you travel by car, the Chuo Expressway is your preferred route. Head toward Kofu, exit at the Sutama Interchange and head north on Rt. 41 until you reach the Rt. 601; then it is a straight shot to Mizugaki. Right off of 601 there is a home supply store and a grocery store, if you need any last-minute supplies.  

If you forget anything, nearby Kofu City has everything you need, including Pirania, a great local climbing shop. Web: www.pirania.jp. Note that, while the drive to the mountains is quite fast and easy, beware heading back to Tokyo on Sundays when the two-hour drive can turn to six.  

Eddie Gianelloni is an AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) climbing guide who hails from the flat state of Louisiana, which could be why he has such an affinity for the mountains. He has traveled the world in search of new places to climb, spending time in Thailand, Sardinia, Italy, Austria and too many areas in the USA to name. Photography has grown from an obsession to a profession and, when not climbing, he works as an adventure photographer in Japan. 

[novo-map id=2 individual=”yes”]

Outdoor Japan logo tree

Related

Latest posts

Okinawa’s Treehouse...

Tucked away in the lush jungles of Okinawa is an eco-conscious retreat called Treeful Treehouse. This sustainable resort is an immersive experience that invites guests to reconnect with nature.

The Spirit of the Kuma Va...

Travelers to Japan undoubtedly view sake as the traditional liquor of Japan. Histori-cally they wouldn’t be wrong, since Sudō Honke, the world’s oldest sake brewery (and one of the oldest companies in the world), was founded in 1141 in Ibaraki Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. However Southern Japan is home to another authentic Japanese spirit—shochu, which was first produced about 500 years ago, its roots firmly planted in Japan’s warmer southern climes.

CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madara...

Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.

Categories