Stand almost anywhere in Chikuma and look to the south and you will see Kamuriki-yama towering over everything else. I took the kids for a hike up there this past weekend and we had a wonderful time.
When seen from below, Kamuriki-yama looks like it would involve a long, arduous climb to its summit, but the good news is that you can drive a little road to just below the peak and walk from there. It is actually one of the easiest hikes you can find around here — so much so that even my two-year-old was able to walk up on her own with very little help from me.
There are two courses you can hike to get to the top of this mountain. I took the easier route and will describe that. If you want to know about the other one, all I know is that the other route is longer, steeper and less maintained. There, I’m done with that.
So, here’s how we went up. We started by driving up the mountain from Kamiyamada Onsen. When you are in this hot spring village, look up on the mountain and you will see a temple perched on top. (They light up this place of worship every night as if it were Christmas or something). Drive up the very steep access road to this temple and keep going. You’ll soon pass Arata-jo Castle. Keep going up and up and up. After about 10 minutes of this winding ascent, you’ll come to a fork in the road with one street veering off to the left and another one turning sharply right. Take the right fork here. Drive less than a minute and you will see a large, dirt parking lot on the right.
From the parking lot, you will see a gravel kei-truck road heading uphill. Walk this road to it’s end (about 10-15 minutes for us) and from there, continue on up to the top along a very well-maintained hiking trail. The trail is steep in some areas, but shouldn’t be a problem if you are wearing shoes with a good tread on them. The trail has sections of well-built steps to make climbing easier — and these steps are not made for giants either! About halfway up the trail, you will reach the ridgeline and there will be a fork. Take the right fork, which leads to the summit of Kamuriki-yama (There is a sign here pointing the way, but it is in kanji). After a little while, you’ll come to a clearing on the side of the mountain that gives a nice westerly view of the North Alps. There is a bench and a diagram board here in English and Japanese identifying which peaks you can see off in the distance.
After you enjoy the view here, it’s only a few more minutes to the top. There you’ll be treated to a nice grassy area — spotted with some wild flowers, a Shinto shrine housed in a small concrete bunker, and some gorgeous views of the Chikuma River valley. The best view is to the south, where you can see all the way up the valley to Komoro and Saku. Spread out a blanket here and have a picnic. It is fantastic!
When you are done, head back down the way you came. And stop at the viewpoint below the summit for one more look at the North Alps.