This trip wouldn't have had been possible without the JR East's Welcome Rail Pass, as I definitely would not pay the bullet train tickets to do this as a dayhike. Which means I had to do it on the day I had the pass, regardless of the weather. So, even if this hike is said to have gorgeous views, I did this knowing that it will likely be raining and cloudy when I do. And it was. Unfortunately.
Budget: JPY5,000 (~USD48)
- JPY500. Bus, Ueda Station to Dabosu.
- JPY500. Bus, Dabosu to Ueda Station.
- JPY4,000. One day's worth allocated with JR East's Welcome Rail Pass
- OR JPY2,410. One day's worth allocated with Seishun 18 ticket.
- November 2, 2020
- Difficulty: 3 out of 5
- Route below is around 13.8kilometers, with an elevation change of ▲1,284m/ ▽1,286m
- Map Link
When to Go
It seems that there is transport throughout the year. However, this area is famous for snow so that should be a warning for winter ascent.
- Weather check: English / Japanese. In my hike, English and Japanese forecasts conflicted, and the Japanese one was the accurate one.
- There's a JPY200 hiker's fee it seems. There was nobody manning the booth when I went there though.
- Dabosu. Access is via train to Ueda Station (上田駅), then bus to Sugaidaira (菅平高原ダボス).
- Train, Tokyo to Ueda Station.
- Bullet train, JPY6,500+ but you'll be there at 7:30am, making this a very feasible dayhike from Tokyo.
- Local trains. JPY3,800+, 4 hours one way. The earliest you can be there is around 9:30am, but if you have the Seishun 18 ticket it'll be JPY2,410 round trip.
- You can combine this hike with hikes from Nagano Station too, and it'll be just 40 minute train ride.
- Bus, Ueda Station to Dabosu (ダボス, google maps pin) Here's the link for the bus schedule to ダボス.
- Earliest train leaves Ueda Station (上田駅) at 7:05am and gets there at 8:00am. Train runs throughout the year, but fewer buses from October to mid December.
- The bus stop announcement was not "Dabosu" but blah blah blah-dabosu. So it may be difficult to catch - I therefore suggest you watch your google maps and pay attention.
- Walk, Dabosu to Sugaidara-tozanguchi (菅平牧場登山口, google maps pin). It's about 3.4kms, or 55 mins based on google maps.
Bus schedule, Ueda Station (上田駅) < >Dabosu (ダボス)
- Mountain huts.
- Paid. None.
- Free. None.
- Camping. None. No flat spots throughout the hike as I can see, so no wild camping either.
Itinerary - Planned
- 06:28am. Bullet train, Tokyo Station to Ueda Station.
- 07:53am. ETA: Ueda Station. Bus stop 3, wait for the bus going to Sugadaira-kogen (菅平高原)
- 08:15am. Bus, Ueda Station to Dabosu.
- 09:10am. ETA: Dabosu. Start hike.
- 12:00pm. ETA: Summit. An hour lunch break.
- 04:30pm. Back to trailhead.
- 04:35pm. Return bus from Dabosu to Ueda Station.
- 06:28am. Bullet train, Tokyo Station to Ueda Station. Train very much empty. Cars 1 to 4 were free seating, but I had a reserved seat so I went to my assigned seat.
- 07:53am. Arrived at Ueda Station. Turned right to exit via Castle Exit, then turned left to go to bus stop 3.
- 08:15am. Bus, Ueda Station to Dabosu. Cash only, no need to take a ticket.
- 09:10am. Arrived at Dabosu Bus Stop. It started raining about five minutes prior, so I went into the waiting area to eat my packed lunch as I assume there will be no place to eat in the mountain (I was right - no benches nor any shade throughout the hike). I also put on my rain gear.
- 09:20am. Started the hike. There's a little turn to the left from the main road, and from there on it was a straight path to the trailhead. Plenty of signs to guide me.
- 10:00am. Arrived at the trailhead. I had an old Japanese guy ask me my plans for the day, and told me to just backtrail from Azumaya as they haven't maintained the path between Azumaya and Nekodake. He also warned me about bears, and since I didn't have a bear bell, he told me to make sure I made noise. Either way, at the trailhead there's a box to submit your hiking plans, so I just put in my name, phone number and my emergency contact. I then turned right to hike Azumaya.
- 10:21am. Did the river crossing. It was easy as they had blocks of concrete to hop onto. The trail remained fairly flat, until I had to make the sharp left turn to start the ascent. From here on it was a not-so-steep-but-still-steep hike up.
- 11:44am. Arrived at Naka-Azumaya (中四阿山). The trail from here on got muddier, with no alternative but fully walking on the mud. Ugh.
- 12:18pm. Arrived at the fork or bunki (分岐). I'd say the ascent to this point was the steepest, but nothing too bad. It was a flat path from here on, until I reached the stairs to the summit.
- 12:32pm. Summit! Finally! Zero visibility, as expected.
- 12:38pm. Started heading back down. I was just backtrailing, so I made sure to just follow where I went. There are some trails going off to 四阿高原, I ignored them, and just followed my initial path, which was pretty straightforward.
- 02:33pm. Back at the trailhead! Kind of eerie to see not a single soul in the area, and knowing that I was 100% on my own in the mountain for most of my hike. I started rushing down to catch the bus back to Ueda Station.
- 03:00pm. Back at the station! I made it!
- 03:05pm. Bus, Dabosu to Ueda Station.
- 04:00pm. Arrived at Ueda Station. I had a quick meal at the Ueda Karaage Center (nothing special), and rushed to take the next bullet train.
- 04:30pm. Bullet train, Ueda Station to Tokyo Station. Almost home! Yey!
|The bullet train to Ueda. |
|At exit, I turned right for the Castle Exit. |
|Right outside are the bus stops. Bus stop 3. |
|Bus stop 3. |
|Bus came, cash only.|
|The gorgeous autumn foliage on the way up. |
|Dabosu Bus Stop.|
|There are plenty of signs pointing to Azumaya. I turned left here.|
|Just kept straight. There are plenty of turns, just kept straight. |
|Glad to see the trail. This is the part not reflected in google maps. |
|Plenty of signs. |
|Back to the main road. Gorgeous autumn foliage still. I kept going straight (this view is to the left)|
|A looooong road to walk on. |
|Finally got into the trailhead. Just a couple of cars, but a bus means one big group of hikers. Around here I met an old guy who told me not to go to Nekodake, as the path between Mt Azumaya and Mt Neko was not maintained. |
|The trailhead. To the left the mountain log box. I wrote my name, number, emergency contact, and took the road right. |
|The trail at the left. |
|The first section was just walking to the side of the fenced off ranch. |
|I definitely enjoyed this section given the autumn foliage.|
|Pretty flat route too.|
|The sole river crossing. Washed my shoes here on my way back. |
|aaaand autumn view is gone. Hello winter.|
|Plenty of these signs all over. Sometimes with English translations, sometimes not.|
|A couple of ridge walks.|
|The most common trail for this hike. Muddy trail in between these bushes.|
|The one section with a drop on it. Even then, not a steep one.|
|So. Much. Mud.|
|Felt like I was looking at a cross. This was the end of the steepest section. |
|Fork to Nekodake vs Azumaya. As much as I wish I can hike Mt. Cat, I had to go with the hyakumeizan, Mt. Azumaya. |
|Pretty flat. |
|Surprisingly the only stairs section.|
|The summit. With supposedly great views. |
|Going back now.|
|Back at the stairs. |
|Wow, the view going down looks as steep as it felt going up. |
|Aaaand back to trailhead!|
|Not a single soul left. I knew about two hours into the hike that me and Mt. Azumaya were alone, but boy, this was still eerie.|
|Running down the last leg to catch my bus!|
|Just a peek at one of the "driveways" of the many, many pensioners in the area. I wish I were as rich as they are...|
|Back at the bus stop!|
|Dinner before my bullet train back to Tokyo!|