Mt. Nakimushi 鳴虫山

Hiked on Apr 19, 2024


Mt. Konosu 神ノ主山 – Gappo 合峰 – Doppyo 独標

  Duration: 4.5 hours
  Distance: 10.6 km
  Elevation change: 561 metres
  Highest point: 1104 metres
  Start: Tobu-Nikko Station (Tobu Nikko Line)
  Finish: Tobu-Nikko Station (Tobu Nikko Line)
  Difficulty:   ▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅  
  Map: Yama to Kogen Chizu 山と高原地図 [No.13 日光 NIKKO]



A Scenic Hiking Adventure from Nikko Station

Situated right next to Nikko Station, Mt. Nakimushi is a popular hiking destination due to its accessibility and views of surrounding mountains. While the hike may seem short at first glance, the mountain’s steep slopes turn it into a relatively challenging climb. In spring, the area bursts into bloom with flowers like azaleas, characterised by their red and pale pink petals, attracting many climbers who come to admire them.

Getting to Nikko from west Tokyo can be quite a mission. In the past, I have taken an express train from Asakusa using the Nikko All Area Pass (4,780 yen), available from the TOBU Tourist Information Center. A drawback of this is that the center doesn’t open until 7:20 am, and you also have to choose your return train. As I have done more recently, I opted for local trains on the Tobu Railway Line, transferring at Shin-Koshigaya, and arriving at Tobu-Nikko Station 東武日光駅 around 8:09 am, taking about 3 hours. Leaving early also means securing a seat all the way and avoiding the morning rush hour.

One thing I hadn’t noticed previously is a water source right outside Nikko Station, beside the bus terminus, where you can freely refill your water bottle. To reach the Mt. Nakimushi trailhead, which is a 10 minute walk from the station, turn right at the main road, then left down a side alley. The trailhead itself, clearly marked, is across the bridge to the right. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a guide map at the station indicating its location.

The hike begins with a steep ascent right from the start, passing by the Mt. Tenno shrine 天王山. The shinryoku (new green leaves) were beautifully illuminated by sunlight filtering through the trees. After about 30 minutes, you’ll reach Mt. Konosu 神ノ主山 (842 m), a small peak on the ridge. Although the summit is surrounded by trees and doesn’t offer much of a view, there are a couple of wooden seats where you can take a breather.

About halfway up the mountain, the ‘root road’ begins, where exposed tree roots carpet the trail, a testament to the constant trampling by hikers. In wet weather, this section of the trail could be testing. Along the ridge, several areas were lined with pink azaleas in full bloom, adding a little colour to the otherwise leafless forest canopy. From the summit of Mt. Nakimushi 鳴虫山 at 1,104 metres, there are stunning views of Mt. Nantai towering to the north and the adjoining Mt. Nyoho. Despite the temptation of an early lunch on the sun-drenched summit, strong wind gusts put an end to that idea.

Once you’re rested, begin your descent from the mountain. It starts with a steep descent via wooden stairs towards Kanmangafuchi Abyss 憾満ヶ淵. Be prepared for a climb back up to Gappo 合峰, (1,084 m) followed by another steep descent with ropes for assistance. Through the larch trees, catch glimpses of Mt. Nantai. Descend again from Doppyo 独標, (925 m), this side of the mountain alternates with several climbs and descents. Note also that in some places, the trail has washed out wooden steps and is generally poorly maintained. Just before reaching the foot of the mountain, you’ll encounter a grove of Oriental Paper Bush (Mitsumata). Follow the path next to the ancient-looking hydroelectric power plant to Kagemangafuchi, one of Nikko’s most scenic spots.

Here, you’ll find approximately 70 Jizo buddhas enshrined, known as Narabi Jizo (Jizo in a line). Legend has it that if you count them going and returning, the numbers will not add up, hence the common name Bake Jizo (ghost Jizo). Adjacent to the statues is the Otani River, featuring a unique landscape sculpted by rapids carving through rocks. Once you’ve finished exploring the Kanmangafuchi Abyss, cross the river and turn right at the Shinkyo Bridge 神橋 to make your way back to Tobu-Nikko station.


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