Distance: 11.9 km
Elevation change: 396 metres
Highest point: 566 metres
Start: Agano Station (Seibu Chichibu Line)
Finish: Higashi-Agano Station (Seibu Chichibu Line)
Discover One of Saitama’s Best Kept Secrets
Koburi Pass has been on my ‘to hike’ list for ages so with sunny skies forecast last weekend I finally found my opportunity. Located in Hanno City on the outskirts of Tokyo makes it convenient to access and can be done year-round though aim for an early start during the summer. I found the trail signposting to be somewhat lacking so carry a map and or handheld GPS. Seibu Railway has a good topographic map (in Japanese) worth printing out and bringing along.
The hike can be done in either direction however the trail notes follow in a clockwise fashion starting at Agano Station on the Seibu Chichibu Line. After exiting the station look for a signpost pointing to Koburi Pass 顔振峠. Head down a flight of concrete stairs, turn right and keep on the road until you reach a pedestrian crossing. Head across the Koma River and through the underpass. Continue up the road, skirting alongside a minor stream. Soon you’ll reach a sign directing you up a paved road to the trailhead proper. It takes approximately 30 minutes to reach this point from the station.
The trail makes a gradual climb through mixed species-woodland before crossing a road just before you reach Koburi Pass at an altitude of 500 metres. The pass has three teahouses perched on the mountainside offering a lengthwise panorama of the Okuchichibu Mountains including the chiselled facade of Mt. Buko, Mt. Tenmoku and even Fujisan in fine weather. Views towards Omiya and beyond can be had 10-minutes’ walk east of the pass at Amagoitsuka 雨乞い塚. When you’re ready to head off return to the pass (recommended) or follow a minor trail which pops out a little way up from the Suwa Shrine 諏訪神社 either way it takes around 20 minutes.
After wandering through the grounds, the trail resumes from the east side of the shrine. After 5 minutes there is a short side trip to the forested summit (no views) of Mt. Ogamiyama 越上山 (566 m). A little further along the trail cuts across a road before arriving at a trail branch. Carry on in the direction of Yugate ユガテ a farmland meadow and popular sightseeing spot in the spring. The trail shadows and occasionally runs into the road below. The next trail junction to look out for is Ebiga saka エビガ坂. At Yugate take a rest on the rough-hewn tables for a well-deserved lunch break.
For the final descent to Higashi-Agano Station you can veer off to the right which drops down to a road or alternatively continue along the ridge in the direction of Agana Shrine 吾那神社 across the river from the station. At any rate allow an hour or so to reach the station.