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Murodo-Kamikochi - Japanese Alps (Chubu), Japan

Walkopedia friend Nick Ince walked here in October 2013.

DAY 1: TO MURODO (04/10/14)

We were booked into a hotel in Toyama as part of the wedding arrangements and travel from Toyama to Murodo is by the TateyamaKurobe Alpine Route another famous and popular Japanese mountain experience.

This is booked at the dedicated station in Toyama and involves a coordinated succession of rail, funicular and bus trips. It travels East-West and can be started from either side of the mountains.

Murodo is a bit of a honeypot and the starting point for a lot of hikers but wasn’t busy when we were there.

The campsite at Murodo is a short walk from the bus terminus and was fairly quiet.



Day2 was a 7hr hike to the Goshiki-Ga-Hara hut.

It started with a graded motorway up to a hut called Ichi-Ni-Koshi on a bealach under Tateyama, which can be hiked from that point.

We headed south to a summit which seems to mark the limit for daywalkers from Murodo and carried on along a less well used path which followed the high ground to the hut.

The path was fine with the occasional rocky outcrops.

The hut had an associated campsite but as we knew the next day was going to be a long one we decided it would be simpler getting away in the morning from the hut, so we checked in to discover it was actually their last night of the season. We had a good evening meal, a room to ourselves in a packed up hut and a 5am start next morning.



Day3 was a 13hr hike up and down to Yakushi-Dake hut over Yakushi-Dake mountain (2926m).

The day started with a tiring hike with lovely views over three subsidiary summits. The slopes were steep but not exposed and the path clearly defined but it took time.

It was a warm, sunny day and we arrived at a hut called Sugo-nokkoshi-goya at the bealach before Yakushi-Dake hot, tired and having drunk all our water.

We had been told at Goshiki that the hut was closed but had hoped there might be a water supply - to find there was only a stagnant pond. So having watched plenty of Ray Mears & Bear Grylls, and having our camping stove, we did the regulation double boil up of billy fulls of cleanish water which saved the day and made lunch of Goshiki-Ga-Hara bento boxes very pleasant.

The afternoon miles seemed to pass much more quickly with a sustained ascent to the top of Yakushi-Dake, with its Shinto shrine on a rocky summit pyramid, then a short descent to the hut with lovely sunset views of Yari-Ga-Take.

This hut was open but had only two other guests. The staff were a bit sniffy about our arrival time and thinking we would want a meal, but things relaxed when we got across the message that we would cater for ourselves.

They supplied us with adlib tea and hot water so we had cup-a-soups and the remains of our bento boxes for dinner.

We shared a dorm, and the smelly ablutions, with the other two visitors and saw a TV update on a typhoon south of Japan

In the morning we had a good, filling Japanese breakfast and after our previous days experience stocked up with expensive bottled water, which was the only available option.



Day4 was a 10hr day of ups and downs to the Kurobegoro hut.

The first section involved a descent down from Yakushi-Dake to a intersection of hiking routes at Tarobei-Goya then an ascending ridge walk to the summit of Kurobegoro-Dake (2840m) before dropping down to the hut.

Through the day we found plenty of clean water to fill our bottles, and needn’t have bought any. After the summit there was a lovely stream from a small snow field that made a fine brew and filled the water bottles.

Kurobegoro was closed but we camped on the flat ground next to it and had plenty of water from our bottles filled earlier.



Day5 was a 6hr day of ridge walking to the Sugoroku hut.

It started with a climb to Mitsui-Mata-Renge-Dake (2841m) then a comfortable ridge walk with lovely autumn colours and views of Yari-Ga-Take before the descent to the hut.

We saw more hikers on this section many of whom could be heard from a long way off by the tinkling of their bear bells. There are black bears in the mountains and there is a general appreciation that they will eat you. We never saw or heard of one.

The hut is another large establishment and the first one on the west side of Yari-Ga-Take, so popular. We decided to camp for some reason, even after being told by the hut staff that the anticipated typhoon was expected to pass close up the west coast during the night.

The main issue though was that trying to get over Yari-Ga-Take the next day would be impossible and that wrecked our schedule as we couldn’t then get to Kamikochi in time to get back for the wedding.

We had a gusty night in our trusty little North Face and woke to a windy morning to find our two fellow tenters in tatters and decamped. 



After a hearty bowl of porridge we checked the forecast at the hut and found that as the wind would ease later the rain would arrive, so we decided to get as far off the mountain as we could before that happened.

Day6 was an 8hr escape route in the rain down to the roadhead at a spa village called Shin –Hotaka.

The path was good and a comfortable downhill gradient. We got over the ridge into the lee of wind without difficulty but when the rain started it was torrential and continued until we were almost back to civilisation.

The mountainsides were lush after the relatively short vegetation of the ridgelines with beautiful natural gardens turning to autumn colour in the mist.

At the start of the road we found a fine old rest house where we warmed up with a wonderful bowl of miso soup before heading into Shin-Hotaka.



Shin-Hotaka is a small resort village at the head of a valley with a thriving tourist industry based on hot pools (Onsen) and a gondola up to a viewpoint in the mountains. We hadn’t any firm idea what we wanted to do other than that we didn’t have to be back in Toyama for two days and we thought we’d earned a bit of luxury.

When we got to the gondola station we discovered there was a tourist office just down the road and when we walked down found a hole in the wall with a helpful lady who spoke minimal English. Unconcerned about communication difficulties we established we wanted a room for the night, that there was one available at an acceptable, but not cheap, price and that if we sat down for a few minutes someone would come and pick us up and take us there.

And so we found ourselves at the wholly delightful NonoHana-Sanso, with outdoor and indoor sanso, which was worth every yen.

On the morning of the 11/10/14 the manager drove us to the local bus stop where we caught a bus direct to the door of our hotel in Toyama.

By Nick Ince ()

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