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Mount Tsubakuro via Enzanso

Climb and stay at Japan's oldest mountain lodge

Mount Tsubakuro is a 2,763m tall mountain located in Azumino, Nagano Prefecture. Situated in the Hida Mountain, or Northern Alps area, the peak of Tsubakuro is located a short distance from Enzanso, one of the oldest mountain huts in Japan, originally built in 1921.

Starting from the trailhead at Nakafusa onsen (located at the end of route 327 deep into the Nakafusa valley west of Azumino), the climb itself is largely comfortable and does not present too much of a challenge even to the novice hiker, although it does get steep towards the early stages. There are numerous rest stops along the way, where it is recommended to take a break, drink water and get your bearings. As well as Enzanso waiting for you at the very top, Kessangoya is another mountain hut half way along the route, providing a wider rest stop and chance to dine at the eatery while you appreciate the surrounding views.

From Kessangoya, the route quickly swaps forest undergrowth for mountaintop granite ridge paths. From here, you'll get great panoramic views of the Northern Alps, the Azumino River Valley and even Mount Fuji on a clear day. Stopping to admire the views may slow you down, but soon you'll start to notice the Enzanso mountain lodge peering down from the top of the mountain ridge, helping you focus on your goal.

Did you know? Sign up for a Member's Card on your first stay at Enzanso and get discounted entry at the trailhead Ariake onsen, among other benefits.

You can reach Enzanso in about 5-6 hours and if you are booked to stay there, you will be well looked after. Compared to anything on Mount Fuji, Enzanso is spacious, welcoming, and serves very good food in the evening and morning (at multiple time slots allowing you to catch the sunset and sunrise outside without interruption).

But the best part of staying at Enzanso is the obvious ability to drop off all your gear upon checking-in and going off to explore the surrounding peaks at your own pace. From Enzanso, there are dozens of peaks within hiking range, with Tsubakuro itself being the closest (20 minutes), as well as Kita-Tsubakuro (10 minutes from Tsubakuro).

Reaching these peaks makes for spectacular views across the entire Northern Alps area, including sprawling red forests with their autumnal glow or a sea of clouds drifting across the low-lying mountains and valleys, depending on the weather and time of the year.

Once your time is up and you complete your descent the same or following day, do take the time to experience a local onsen (Nakafusa or Ariakeso etc) or another attraction in Azumino, such as the Daio Wasabi Farm.

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Laura Weaver 9 years ago
Gorgeous landscape photography! What a wonderful place. Sounds perfect for the average hiker (me).

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