Climbing Mt. Tsubakuro

September 1st, 2017 by
Category: Information, Outdoor Activities

The final stretch of trail to the peak of Mt. Tsubakuro is incredibly picturesque.

Mt. Tsubakuro (2,763m) is a very popular destination in the Northern Japanese Alps due to its unique appearance and beautiful alpine flora. Its well-maintained trails, convenient rest areas and lodges, and beautiful scenery make it a must-hike spot in Nagano.

The trailhead begins from Nakabusa Onsen at an altitude of 1,462m. The trail continues through the forest for a majority of the climb before breaking through the tree line for the last hour or so. Rest areas are spaced evenly throughout the hike, with four bench areas in the woods followed by the Kassen-goya hut and the Enzanso mountain lodge above the tree line. From the lodge, the peak is approximately 40 minutes.

The trailhead starts from Nakabusa Onsen at 1,462m.

Roundtrip, the hike takes about 9.5 hours (6 hours up, 3.5 hours down), with an altitude difference of 1,300m. Most people stay the night at the Enzanso lodge, but it is possible to hike in a single day with the proper level of fitness.

In the distance you can make out the conical shape of Mt. Fuji and the Yatsugatake mountains to its right.

This hike’s amazing views begin around the fourth bench. From here, you can see the Yatsugatake mountain range and Mt. Fuji standing proudly in the distance. From higher still, you can see the Hakuba mountains and Mt. Tsurugi as well. Once you reach Enzanso, the landscape opens up and you can enjoy panoramic views of the Northern Alps as well as Mt. Tsubakuro’s magnificent features.

Most striking is the peak’s vivid collage of grey, green and white. The ridgeline is covered in granite outcroppings, verdant shrubbery and swaths of bleached gravel. Viewed closer, the rocks take on unique and recognizable shapes. Along the trail you can find a lounging gorilla, a breaching dolphin, and a pair of glasses pointed at Mt. Yari. At your feet, small, pink komakusa flowers.

Mt. Tsubakuro’s famous dolphin rock, breaching in front of Mt. Yari.

And from the top of Mt. Tsubakuro, one can see the most beautiful view of all: the tan ridgeline of Omote-Ginza zigzagging along towards the rest of the Northern Alps. On the right day, the clouds lap the gravelly slopes of the mountains, curling and twisting like the great waves off Kanagawa, and the distant Enzanso lodge appears to float in the sky.

The Omote-Ginza ridge is breathtaking on a clear day

Mt. Tsubakuro’s scenery is breathtaking and is a must-hike peak for any climbing enthusiast. Its safe trails, convenient rest areas, and fully-stocked mountain lodge make it a great climb for families as well. Enjoy unparalleled views atop the Roof of Japan!

Access to Tsubakuro

Nakabusa Onsen can be reached by bus or taxi from JR Hotaka Station on the Oito line. From the Station, the ride to Nakabusa is approximately 60 minutes long. One-way bus fare is 1,700 yen, and one-way taxi fare 7,500 yen. You can see the bus schedule in Japanese here.

For drivers, there are three parking lots in the vicinity of the trailhead as well, and they have a total capacity of 120 cars. Because they fill up very quickly, you may want to park at the Miyashiro parking lot (next to the Yama-no-Takahei hotel and hot spring) and take a taxi from there instead (approximately 5,000 yen).

Accommodation and Hot Springs

Nakabusa Onsen

Nakabusa’s hot springs are rich sources of minerals and bubble out from the ground at a scalding 90°C. The waters are naturally cooled without the addition of cold water and pumped into the baths at a comfortable temperature. Guests can spend the night in the hotel and make use of a variety of hot spring baths. Day-users can enjoy separate indoor and outdoor baths for 700 yen. Open from late April to late November

Half Board: 9,500 to 21,000 Yen
Day-use hot spring hours: 9:30 to 16:00
Day-use entrance fee: 700 Yen


Enzanso Lodge

The Enzanso mountain lodge is one of the oldest lodges in the Northern Japanese Alps, originally built in 1921. It has since been renovated and can hold a capacity of 650 climbers with space for 30 tents. They have free bathrooms, plentiful benches, and food and drink for guests and passersby. Reservations can be made online here or via telephone. Open from late April to late November

Half board: 10,000 Yen
Room only: 6,400 Yen
Tent space: 1,000 Yen


Yama-no-Takahei

The Yama-no-Takahei hotel and hot spring is located about halfway between Hotaka Station and the Tsubakuro trailhead. The day-use hot spring is open late, so people making their way down the mountain in the early evening can still take a dip. The hot spring water here comes from the same mineral spring as Nakabusa.

Drivers may also want to park their car at the Miyashiro parking lot next to Yama-no-Takahei and take a taxi to the trailhead, as parking spaces near the trailhead fill up quickly.

Half board: 10,000 to 15,000 Yen
Day-use hot spring hours: 10:00-21:00
Day-use entrance fee: 500 Yen


More Hikes in Nagano!

If you’d like to learn about more hikes in Nagano, check out some of the links below.

15 Responses to “Climbing Mt. Tsubakuro

  1. Hi, what is the weather like on this hike in mid-November? Seeing as lodging is still open it should be possible to do the bite, is that right? Thanks!

  2. Hi Soen,

    Mid-November is quite late for hiking in the Japanese Alps. Even if the lodge is open, the mountain will be covered in snow and dangerous to climb for hikers who aren’t experienced in winter climbing conditions. As you can see here, snow is already beginning to fall on the mountain.

    The recommended hiking season in Nagano is between June to September.

    I hope that helps answer your question!

    -Blair

  3. Hi, I am James from Thailand. I have planned to hike mount Tsubakuro dake in late april 2019, so I would like to know which date is Enzanso hut going to be opened in april 2019 and it’s price rate. Is it dangerous to hike mount Tsubakuro dake in late april?

  4. Hi James,

    The opening dates for Enzanso have not been released yet for 2019, but last year’s dates were April 25 to November 25, 2018. Mt. Tsubakuro will likely still have snow until June, so if you plan to hike between the opening of Enzanso and then, be sure to bring proper winter hiking gear and hire a guide if you do not have winter hiking experience. For more information, I recommend contacting Nagano’s Multilingual Mountain Guides.

    I hope that helps answer your question!

    -Blair

  5. Hi! We’ll go there for hiking in early of June but some area will be covered with snow. Right?
    So I wonder if there is any gear rental around Nakabusa onsen? Especially the crampons.

    Thanks for your reply in advance.

  6. Hi Nara,

    There will probably be some snow near the top of the mountain. Unfortunately, there are no places nearby that offer equipment rentals. If you are interested in climbing Mt. Tsubakuro then, I recommend purchasing crampons and trekking poles. There are several shops in Matsumoto City that sell them, such as Ishii Sports between Matsumoto Station and Matsumoto Castle.

    I hope that helps.

    -Blair

  7. I plan to trek the Omote Ginza in early July ,is it possible or you recommend another period of time? and i plan to stay all three night in huts and i wondering that hutte Nishidake open yet? ( l can’t find hutte Nishidake contact in English) or I can trek straight from Daitenso mountain hut to Hutte Oyari in one day ?
    Thank you in advance

  8. Hi there,

    Thanks for your comment.

    Hutte Nishidake opens in early July, around the same time as your trip. I haven’t personally hiked the Omote Ginza route, but it looks like Hutte Nishidake and Hutte Oyari are about three hours apart, so I wouldn’t recommend skipping Hutte Nishidake unless you’re an experienced and athletic hiker.

    You may want to push your hike back a few days, if possible, to make sure that Hutte Nishidake is open during your visit.

    You can make reservations for the hut by calling them at 090-7172-2062. Since they do not have English-speaking staff, I recommend contacting them through the Nagano Multilingual Call Center, which will interpret for you free of charge.

    I hope that helps.

    -Blair

  9. Hello,

    Does the hut on the mountain have a tent rental?
    Can you recommend a rental shop around Nagano and Matsumoto?

    thank you.

  10. Hi Nick,

    There are no rental shops around Matsumoto and Nagano that I know of. I recommend bringing any equipment you need with you or purchasing it after you arrive in Japan. That being said, it would be more convenient to stay at Enzanso Lodge at the top of the mountain than lug around a tent during your trip.

    -Blair

  11. I am planning to hike panorama ginza on 15-18 June 2019. Do I have to use a crampon or not? And how about the temperature on the ridge.

  12. Hi there,

    Tsubakuro will likely still have snow until the beginning of July, so crampons will be necessary if you plan to hike there in June. The average high temperature is 12.4°C and the low is 1.2°C— so you’ll want to bring plenty of warm clothing, especially if you’ll be spending the night at the top of the mountain.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

    -Blair

  13. Hi, I am Natty from Thailand. I have planned to hike mount Tsubakuro dake in late Sept 2019, so I would like to know which date is Enzanso hut going to be opened in sept 2019 and it’s price rate. Is it dangerous to solo-couple hike mount Tsubakuro dake . please also advise for direction from Nagoya to nearest Station . Thankyou.

  14. Hi Natty,

    Thanks for your question.

    Enzanso Lodge is open from April 20th to November 24th, 2019. For an adult, accommodation rates are 7,000 yen for room or 10,300 yen for room, dinner, and breakfast.

    Mt. Tsubakuro is a popular mountain and there are usually many people on the trail. It isn’t particularly dangerous, so you should be fine as a solo hiker.

    To reach Hotaka Station, the closest station to the trailhead, you would first take the Shinano Wide View train from Nagoya to Matsumoto Station. From Matsumoto, take the Oito line train to Hotaka Station. Then take a bus or taxi to the trailhead.

    I hope that helps answer your questions.

    -Blair

  15. Pingback: *Japan* Nagano – Mt Tsubakuro 1N2D (Jul 2019 – 3Nights, 4Days) – World Explorist

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