(白馬岳) Mt. Shirouma Hike

Shiro means white, uma means horse. So Shiro-uma literally means White Horse Mountain. It is likely because of the snow cap and ridges, but I think that name is more appropriate for Mt. Jinba, which has this on its summit:
Either way. Given the logistics, this is going to be a long post, so brace yourself.

Budget: JPY7,390 (~USD70)
  • JPY2,570. Bus/Gondola/Ropeway, Hakuba Station to Shizen-en-eki.
  • JPY1,000. Bus, Sarukura to Hakuba Station.
  • JPY4,820. Two days' worth allocated with Seishun 18 ticket. (if from Tokyo)
  • +JPY7,500. Mountain hut (optional)
Hike Date / Difficulty (Elevation: 2,932m / 9,619ft)
  • August 8-9, 2020
  • Difficulty: 5 out of 5
  • Route below is around 16.1 kilometers, with an elevation change of ▲2,069m/ ▽1,484m
  • Map Link
  • I did this hike with Mt. Amakazari, and will link the post once published.

When to Go
Buses run from mid-April to mid-October, so I'd say around then.

Special Notes
  • Hike Proper Notes:
    • Big Leeches. Yes, this mountain has plenty of them, nicely resting on the rocks. There's nothing that can be done about it, but it took me by surprise.
    • Spikes needed. Mt. Shirouma is famous for its year round snow field - Daisekkei (大雪渓). It's a steep 30 minute ish walk, and spikes are definitely needed.
    • Careful of falling rocks. The aforementioned Daisekkei also has a lot of falling-rock-related injuries, and when I met people on my way down, all small talk was about if there were any falling rocks. In my case, I only heard one huge one, and that was it (maybe that wasn't as reassuring as I thought).
  • The starting point is Hakuba Station, and there's a bus straight from Tokyo Station, but night buses get booked quick. Timetables and reservations here. Another way is via trains - there's a limited express that goes direct from Tokyo, but I chose the cheap, 6-7 hour trip that cost me JPY2,410 one way - the Seishun 18 ticket.
  • Given that the earliest bus arrives at 6:22am and the last bus leaves at 4:35pm, (for Sarukura, Trailhead 1 below), and the hike can be done 4 hours up and another 4 hours down, this hike is dayhike feasible, even with public transportation.  
  • Mountain huts. Below are three main ones you can stay at in the surrounding area. Camping is allowed on the latter two, Hakuba-sansou has no camping spot.
    • Paid - Hakuba-sansou (白馬山荘). 15 minutes from the summit, and accommodates 800 people, for JPY7,500 a night, no meals. Reservations online. Open slots are marked with "空あり", while full slots with "満室". Just click on the "空きあり". For the form, keywords are:
      • 宿泊日 has three fields:
        • Days you are staying
        • Name of the hut
        • Room : 相部屋 which is mixed, 個室 which is private room, テント for tent.
      • 登山ルート : Route. You'll need to input the names of trailheads, you can refer to the map above.
      • Under "宿泊人数入力をお願いします", key in the number of people. 男 are for men, 女 for women. They are also grouped by age. 70歳以上 for older than 70.
        • 中学生〜60代 for middle school to 60.
        • 小学生 for elementary school kids
        • 小学生未満 for younger than elementary school kids
      • Once done, click お客様情報入力. You have to input the following details:
        • お名前 Name
        • フリガナ Katakana version of your name
        • 携帯電話 Phone Number
          • 郵便番号 Your post office (?) number based on your address
        • 住所 address
        • メールアドレス email
      • Once done, click "予約する". Now i'm too lazy to check what else happens, so leave a comment here if you need help. :)
    • Paid - Hakuba-yari-onsen-goya (白馬鑓温泉小屋). The only one with an onsen, and is a bit far from the summit. Reservations online, same as above. 
    • Paid - Son-ei-choujou-shukusha (村営頂上宿舎). 20 minutes from the summit, for JPY7,500 a night, no meals. Reservations online, but in Japanese. 
    • Free - Emergency hut. There's a small emergency hut below   Son-ei-choujou-shukusha (村営頂上宿舎), but there's a request inside saying to please don't stay there except for emergencies haha. Plus, the place is rather cramped. 
  • Trailheads. With Hakuba Station, as starting point, there are two main trailheads - Sarukura (with the snowfield) and Tsugaike-kogen (with the ropeway). 
    • Sarukura (猿倉). Access from Hakuba Station.
      • Bus, Hakuba Station to Sarukura. JPY1,000 one way, here's the bus website link. The first bus leaves Hakuba Station at 5:55am, and the last bus will leave Sarukura at 4:35. 
      • The bus stops are not difficult to find - from Hakuba Station, just go out of the train station and turn left. The bus stop is right in front of the foot onsen. The bus stop at Sarukura is in the parking lot in front of a mountain hut. That's the only parking lot at the end/start of the trail, so it's pretty easy to spot. 
Bus Schedule, Hakuba Station (白馬駅) <> Sarukura (猿倉). 
    • Tsugaike-kogen (Shizen-en Eki (自然園駅). Shizen-en technically means "Nature Park", and Tsugaike-kogen is the more accurate term.
      • Bus, Hakuba Station to Tsugaike-kogen (栂池高原), google maps pin. JPY570, 29 minutes one way. From Hakuba Station, turn left, bus stop 2. For the updated schedule, here's the bus website link
        • Earliest one leaves at 5:40am and gets there at 6:07am. As the first gondola/ropeway is at 6:30am, you may want to do the second one. 
      • Gondola and Ropeway, Tsugaike-kogen (栂池高原) to Shizen-en Eki (自然園駅). google maps pin. JPY2,000, around 30 minutes for both the Gondola and Ropeway. Here's the website
        • Earliest ride starts at 6:30am and ends at 4:20pm, depending on the season. 
        • Gondola goes nonstop, so just get in when you want. Ropeway is every 20 minutes (00, 20, 40).
Bus Schedule, Hakuba Station (白馬駅) to Tsugaike-kogen (栂池高原). 
Bus Schedule, Tsugaike-kogen (栂池高原) to Hakuba Station (白馬駅)

Note: I did a traverse where I went up the ropeway, stayed in the mountain hut, and went down the snow field. 
  • 06:30am. Bus, Hakuba Station (白馬駅) to Tsugaike-kogen (栂池高原). Exit Hakuba Station, Bus stop 2. The bus is cash only, so I had to take the ticket at the side of the door upon entry.
  • 07:00am. Bus stop, Tsugaike-kogen (栂池高原). Once you get off the bus, go straight forward the direction of where your bus was going. You'll pass through a big parking lot, just continue straight. You'll end up with the gondola. It took me less than 5 minutes to get here. Map below:
  • 07:05am. Filled up and submitted hiking form, went to the counter for the Gondola ticket, filled up the contact form (just in case of covid19), and paid for my ticket (credit card). I then went in, and boarded the gondola. At the last stop, exited to the right and saw a small white sign in front of me that said ロープウエイのりば (which means Ropeway boarding). I walked past a nice trail, and was there in less than 5 minutes. 
  • 07:38am. Boarded the ropeway, which leaves every 20 minutes.  It promptly closed doors at 7:39am left at 7:40am.
  • 07:46am. Start hike. The first section was a normal nice ascent, which can be muddy at times.
  • 09:02am. Arrival, Tengubara (天狗原). 
  • 09:43am. Did a quick crossing of a snow field (?). No spikes needed. It was a continuous ascent, then quite a big drop to get to the pond. 
  • 10:30am. Arrival, Hakuba-oike (白馬大池). 
  • 12:14pm. Arrival, Mt. Korenge (小蓮華山).  
  • 01:41pm. Arrival, Mt. Shirouma SUMMIT! Yey! Oh, there's no marker, at least in the normal sense with the name of the mountain and all. What they have is a circular stone. 
  • 02:10pm. Hakuba Sansou! Finally! There are three main buildings - the reception (受付), the restaurant and the actual accommodations. Go to the reception first to check in (on the left if you are coming from the summit), write down your details on the form on one of the tables, go to the counter, and wait for your name to be called. Pay the fees, and they'll give you your instructions.
  • REST! Yey!
  • 05:10am. Start hike down to Sarukura.
  • 5:30am. I passed through the other hut (Son-ei-choujou-shukusha (村営頂上宿舎)). It is a rather continuous steep descent.
  • 07:37am. Arrived at Daisekkei (大雪渓)! I quickly put on my spikes, and started hiking down.
  • 08:15am. Done with the Daisekkei. I took a bit longer as I got a bit lost haha. Took of my spikes, and it was a pretty straightforward hike down. The last hour was simply walking on rough road.
  • 09:40am. Arrived at Sarukura (猿倉) Bus Stop. It's a rather big mountain hut with a parking lot in front of it. The bus stops at the parking lot.
  • 10:15am. Bus, Sarukura to Hakuba Station.
  • 10:42am. Hakuba Station.
Right outside Hakuba Station, (left upon exiting) is a free foot onsen. The bus stop is right in front of it. 

At Tsugaike-kogen bus stop, walk a little bit and you'll see this bus stop for the gondola (ゴンドラ)

When I was submitting my hiking plan form, they have the map of the Hakuba mountains with the corresponding number of accidents/deaths. What a good way to warn people, right? Right? Either way it was effective - I definitely got scared. But either way, I was already there so of course I'm not changing my plans. 

At the end of the gondola, exit on your right. You'll see this little white sign in front of you. That is the path pointing to the ropeway. 

Nestled in the middle of the forest is the ropeway. 

After the quick ropeway ride, just follow the main path and you'll see a couple of mountain huts. Then finally, the entrance to the hike. 

This is the first hour of the hike - it was a bit muddy, but a pretty decent hike up.

Soon enough I got into the marshland (?), and the planks started. The next leg of the hike is in that snowfield (?) that you see in the distance. 

Oh, and around this point I've started seeing the leeches. This is a full, well fed one it seems. They are all over - slowly crawling in the rocks. The ones in higher elevation are dark and shiny. 

There's a split in the path, and guess which is the main trail? Either way, keep track of you rmap so you can see the Japanese characters, and turn left. 

The path through the snow was pretty easy to find. No spikes needed at this point, but then I was going up. 

Another fork, and again, look at your map. Turn left. 

The big pond! Hakuba-ike! That is a really big one, and you can see the huge mountain hut right next to it. I had to descend quite a bit from the ridge to reach the pond. 

After passing the hut, the slow ascent up started. But there were so many beautiful flowers in the path I took a lot of breaks to take pictures. 

Once I've reached the ridge, it was a pretty chill walk. Except that it was raining and windy and I cannot see a thing of the famed Shirouma. 

Ok, focus. Find the bird! It is a.. er, thunderbird? It's the icon (mascot?) for the Northern Alps, and these ones are not as scared of people it seems. 

Here's the marker for Mt. Korenge (小蓮華山). I am therefore expecting a more impressive marker for Mt. Shirouma. 

aaaand this is it. There's no marker. But there's an almost hundred year old.... statue (?) that was carried by Japanese back then, which is impressive if you think about it. 

The marker! Oh, but this is in the mountain hut, not the summit. 

My room for the night. they even have tatami mats. 

This is my descent down, which is pretty straightforward and well marked. There were a couple of forks on the first 15 minutes or so, and I just kept left. 

Ah, the other hut. Just keep going down. 

There is an emergency hut on the way, and it looks like this on the inside. It's barely enough to fit one person, and if you're tall you'll have to bend your legs. It really is just for actual emergencies, and it also says that on a note inside. 

Here's the emergency hut from the outside.  Half of that is the entry way and a locked storage, so I can't say this enough, it really IS small. 

It was pouring my entire hike down, and so a good portion of my trail was on the flowing water. Not alongside it, ON it. Get waterproof shoes. 

There's a bit of a river crossing too. 

Finally! The great snow field! Uhm, where's the trail????

The arrow is there, so I'm on the right part. But seriously, the trail was very difficult to see. 

On the last 10 minutes of the snow field section, finally, they have left markers. 

This is the last hour of the hike. 

Keep your head up, as there's a bit of a turn. Sarukura (猿倉) is on the right. 

And there it is! Sarukura!


  1. Hello po! Thank you for this very detailed blog. I'm planning to go back to Japan and hike Mt Shirouma (or any routes in Japan alps) on July. Bit scared coz I'm planning to go solo hike. Do you think it's doable for a solo female hiker to take the route via Sarukura?

    1. hello! definitely. Also, in all my solo trips where I stayed at the huts, they ALL allocated me to a room with other female hikers.

  2. Hello po, pinoy hikers din po ako, pwede Sumabay?


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