(谷川岳) Mt. Tanigawa Hike

The mountain of death, this mountain has claimed 805 people for the past 80 years. A mere 200 died on Everest on a comparable period (wiki). 

Why? A gramma I met in the hike said it's because the ropes/chains kept on falling, with people attached to those ropes/chains.... so they.. uhm, died. But now things are fixed and so less deaths.  


Budget: JPY4,930 (~USD45)
  • JPY2,410. One day's worth allocated with Seishun 18 ticket.
    • OR JPY6,160. Train, Tokyo to Doai Station (JPY3,080 one way
  • PY2,100. Ropeway, roundtrip. 
  • JPY420. Chairlift.
Hike Date / Difficulty (Elevation: 1,977m / 6,486ft) 
  • August 1, 2021
  • Difficulty: 4 out of 5. 
  • Route below is around 6.5kilometers, with an elevation change of ▲781m/ ▽960m.  
  • Map link

When to Go
Throughout the year! But crampons and ice axe recommended for winter ascent. Please do not underestimate the entire "mountain of death" image. 

Special Notes
  • Weather check: English / Japanese.  
  • It seems that there are two official peaks - Okinomimi and Tomanomimi. The higher peak is Oki-no-mimi (オキの耳). 
  • There's plenty of scrambling up, so would recommend bringing gloves over trekking poles. 
  • Doai Station is actually the deepest train station in Japan. And famed as spooky haha. 
  • Trailheads:
    • Doai -guchi (土合口). Google maps pin. It's a 25minute, 1.2km walk up the road from Doai Station. 
      • Bullet train from Tokyo to Doai Station, JPY6,120, 174minutes one way. Earliest ETA at 8:37am. 
      • Local train from Tokyo to Doai Station, JPY3,080, 234 minutes one way. Earliest ETA is also at 8:37am. If using the Seishun 18 ticket, it'll be JPY2,410 one way. 
    • Tanigawa Ropeway (谷川家ロープウェイ). 
      • 谷川岳ロープウェイ. If using the Doai-guchi trailhead, you can skip about two hours of the hike (~3kms, 688 elev gain) by taking a ropeway. JPY1,250 one way (JPY2,100 roundtrip).
        • It operates throughout the year, with starting time at 7:00am (or 8:30am from December to March).  
        • It's more like a gondola that keeps on running in a loop. Frequency depends on the number of people. There were few people using it when I got there, and the gondola comes every 3 minutes ish. 
      • There is a coin locker. 
      • Access:
        • Bus from Minamakami Station (水上駅) via local trains, bus stop 3 to the right after exit.  JPY760, 20 minutes one way.  Bus schedule here
        • OR Bus from Jomo-kogen Station (上毛高原駅) via Bullet Train
    •  Tanigawa Onsen (谷川温泉). There's a bus from Minakami Station (水上駅) , but it's not running for 2020. Here's their website.  
    • Tsuchitaru Station (土樽駅)
  • Mountain huts.
    • Paid: 谷川岳肩ノ小屋. Open from the end of April early November, this costs JPY4,000 for no meals. Sometimes these huts turn into free mountain huts on winter, and I think this is one of those. 
    • Free: 熊穴沢避難小屋. You may or may NOT stay in winter, depending on the amount of snow, as it gets fully covered. It's more of a break stop with seats than for sleeping, but it'll do in a pinch. 
    • Free: 一ノ倉岳避難小屋. About 50 minutes past the summit, this cannot be used in winter.
    • Camping: Based on the map, there is one near the trailhead, but the parking only accommodates 10 cars. But I cannot see where it is exactly using satellite view of google maps (it should near this parking lot).
Itinerary - Dayhike
  • 04:38am. Train, Tokyo to Doai Station.
  • 08:37am. ETA: Doai Station. It's about 10 minutes from the station to the cable car, then about 15 minutes one way from the cable car. 
  • 09:30am. Arrive at the top of the ropeway. Start hike
  • 12:00pm. ETA: Summit. 
  • 03:00pm. ETA: Top of the ropeway. Take ropeway down. 
  • 03:34pm. Take the train back to Tokyo. Using the Seishun 18 ticket, the next train is at 6:18pm, so better make it at 3:34pm. 
Actual Log
  • 04:38am. Train, Tokyo to Doai Station. At the train from Takasaki Station to Minakami Station, take car4 (far end) for quickest transfer. The train arrived at platform 1 in Minakami Station, and had to go via overpass to cross to the other side for the train to Doai Station. The trains from Minakami Station DOES NOT accept IC Cards. The train employee will be walking across the train to assist and charge the IC Cards of those who do have IC Cards. 
  • 08:37am. Arrived at Doai Station, which was a damp, cool place. It was 486 steps up. At the unmanned exit, I went out across the parking lot, and turned right on the road. I followed the main road, crossed the bridge, went under the tunnel, and soon arrived at the ropeway. 
  • 09:13am. Arrived at the ropeway station. They accept credit card when buying tickets. Bought my tickets and went to the boarding, boarded the ropeway (which is really a gondola). 
  • 09:40am. Arrived at the top of the ropeway. I saw a chairlift going higher, so I took the chairlift. In this case, only cash is accepted (JPY730 rt, 420 one way).  I arrived at 天神峠, flew my drone, and started my hike to the summit. It was pretty straightforward, and followed my map going up. There were enough signs pointing to 谷川岳. 
  • 10:36am. Arrived at the first emergency hut - Kuma-ana-zawa. From here on was a steep ascent with rope section. I didn't use the ropes going up, but I did use them going down, and it caused quite significant lines. 
  • 11:44am. Arrived at the second emergency hut - Tanigawadake-kata-no-koya. It was quite crowded with a lot of people taking breaks here. 
  • 11:54am. Arrived at the first peak - Tomanomimi. I took a break where I had my lunch plus coffee, and played with some dragonflies. I then descended down to cross the ridge to Okinomimi. 
  • 12:30pm. Arrived at Okinomimi. Flew my drone, took plenty of pictures even with the cloudy weather, and then descended down. I flew my drone about twice more during my descent. Look for the signs pointing to 天神平.  
  • 01:15pm. On my way down, I started hearing lightning and thunder from back at the summit. Around an hour later, the rain started pouring on the trail down too. 
  • 02:40pm. Arrived at the top of the ropeway. At this point, there was a huge group of people in line. Only to realize that the ropeway was not working due to the lightning. I was told that the earliest they can operate was 3:30pm, at which point I would miss my train. At about 3pm later, they told the group to go the restaurant as the ropeway may not work for another two hours. We went to the restaurant. 
  • 03:45pm. They told us that the ropeway was working now, and all of us fell in line again. 
  • 04:20pm. We arrived at the bottom of the ropeway, which apparently has a bus... which left at 4:15pm. The next bus was at 5:03pm. 
  • 05:03pm. I took the bus from Tanigawa Ropeway to Minakami Station. 
  • 05:23pm. Arrived at Minakami Station. Only to be told that the trains are not running. But JR had a bus to shuttle us to the next station. 
  • 05:44pm. The bus left Minakami Station and drove to Numata Station. 
  • 06:30pm. Arrived at Numata Station. They told us that the next train to Takasaki Station was at 7:01pm. 
  • 07:01pm. Went in the train station to wait for the train. To be told that the train was going to be late. Figured 5 minutes was a decent wait. But no, the next train was to be 50 minutes late. 
  • 07:53pm. Train, Numata Station to Takasaki Station. 
  • 08:39pm. Arrived at Takasaki Station. Arrived at track 5, transferred to track 8 and waited for the train to Ueno Station. Whew. That was an ordeal. 
Arriving at Doai Station, I had to go up and up and up. Apparently the hike starts now. 

Step 486!

Exiting Doai Station. I crossed the parking lot and turned right. 

Walking towards the ropeway. 

Passing through the river. 

Passing through the tunnel. 

The end of the tunnel!

Almost at the ropeway.

Ropeway!

Buying my tickets. 

The coin locker before boarding. 

My ticket. 

The ropeway/gondola. 

This would be gorgeous in autumn. 

The chair lift is to the right of the ropeway. 

Slooow ropeway up. The lowest ropeway I've been to.

That's Tanigawadake right there. 

Walking with the view of Tanigawadake. 

Some planks on the way. 

Looking back. 

The Kuma-ana-zawa emergency hut. 

Inside the hut. Not ideal, but it'll do. 

One of the steep ascents up. 

Slowly getting higher. 

Going above tree line. 

Shorter bushes. 

Almost at the mountain hut!

The crowded mountain hut. 

First peak!

The ridge to cross to the other peak. 

The highest peak. 

Crossing to the other side. 

Looking down the mountain hut. 

Nice direction marker. 

Inside the mountain hut. 

Going back down. 

Gorgeous descent. 

See what I mean? 

Yep. Gorgeous. 

Back to my descent. 

Some steep descent. Hence, no poles. I remember my accident in Amakazari. 

Back into tree line. 

Continuing my descent. 

Almost at the ropeway. 

The gorgeous view after the pouring rain. 

Bus going to Minakami Station. 

Comments

  1. Itinerary - Overnight

    Saturday
    04:54am. Train, Iidabashi Station to Akihabara Station, transfer for the train to Ueno, then take the train to Takasaki, then Minakami, and finally stop at Doai. There's 4 transfers in total in this case. Ugh.
    08:37am. ETA: Doai Station.
    09:00am. Start hike.
    01:32pm. ETA: Summit.
    01:47pm. ETA: 谷川岳肩ノ小屋 mountain hut


    Sunday
    07:00am. Start hike down.
    10:12am. Back at Doai Station. Take train to Tokyo!

    ReplyDelete

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