Distance: 17.1 km
Elevation change: 1096 metres
Highest point: 1386 metres
Start: Okura Bus Stop
Finish: Okura Bus Stop
Water Carting, Nabeyaki udon, and Fuji-san
Along with Mt. Oyama and Tounodake, Mt. Nabewari is a popular hiking destination in the Tanzawa Mountains. It is approachable from the east, west and three trails heading up from the south though best tackled via the Nishiyama Forestry Road. The mountain is famed for its Nabeyaki udon served from donabe “earthenware pots”. Rather than a out and back piston this hike loops around finishing its descent via the Okura Ridge.
From Shinjuku Station, take an express train bound for Odawara on the Odakyu Odawara Line, and get off at Shibusawa Station 渋沢駅 (75 mins, 690 yen). From the ticket gate turn right out the north exit and head to Bus Stand 2 bound for Okura 大倉 (15 mins, 210 yen). At Okura mosey across the road looking for a sign for Nabewariyama 鍋割山 and Futamata 二俣, the road to the right leads to Mt. Tounodake. The route winds around some local roads before passing through a deer gate. From here on you will be following the Nishiyama Forestry Road 西山林道 shadowing the Shijuhasse River. Along the way look out for the bronze bust of Hiroshi Ozeki a local mountaineering identity and was involved with various national mountaineering associations.
It’s worth mentioning the area is a haven for land leeches yama-hiru so pack some salt from May to October. Around 5 km hiking from Okura and several short river crossings you’ll arrive at Futamata. All-out climbing begins here at the trailhead proper. If you’re up to the task, feel free to pack and carry a 2 litre PET bottle for a little over an hour it takes to reach Nabewari Sansou 鍋割山荘 (1,272 m). It’s a massive help to Kusano san the mountain hut owner who has been running the place for an astounding 45 years. According to his blog he triumphantly states that he has carried loads exceeding 100 kg to the hut on more than a few occasions. Unfortunately doing so doesn’t discount the 1,500-yen Nabeyaki udon. Speaking of which make sure you arrive as early as possible especially on weekends if you want to partake in this time-honoured dish offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
Given the freezing wind, light snow, and lack of Fuji-san views I instead opted brief rest stop comprising a sandwich and a protein bar. Less glamorous I know but was keen to get back on the trail. Apart from steep climbs up to Komaru 小丸 and Daimaru 大丸 (1,386 m) the gentle undulating ridgeline connecting Nabewari Sansou and Kinhiyashi 金冷シ delivers some of the best scenery on the hike as it passes through tracks of undisturbed beech forest. If the weather cooperates or you have a burning desire to bag Tounodake 塔ノ岳 (1,491 m) turn left for the 40-minute round trip otherwise veer right to start the long 1,000 metre descent to the Okura Bus Stop.
The Okura Ridge a.k.a. Baka-one is much as I remember from my first overnight hike, I wrote up on this blog 8 years ago – that is interminable and cruelly punishing on the legs. The monotony only punctuated by brief stops at the legion of bleak and timeworn mountain lodges and shutted teahouses that dot the ridgeline. Even the quaint Ookura kougen yama no ie 大倉高原山の家 closed a few years back, taking with it one of the few reliable water sources in the Tanzawa Mountains. Just before reaching the now cordoned off house swing left for the final 30-minute leg back to the bus stop.