(剣山) Mt. Tsurugi Hike

For this hike, I was out of my hotel from 6am, and was back at the station by 7pm. Which means, I was out 13 hours, and for those 13 hours, hiking took 2.5 hours. The rest was just me trying to get there, then trying to get home. 

However, the summit is a nice place to hang out in, and the mountain is definitely family-friendly. So many young kids were hiking up and down. So if you have a car, or can rent a car, then this may be a nice, chill day out with nature. Rest assured you'll have hundreds of people thinking the same thing and crowding the summit with you.

Budget: JPY10,350 (~USD98)
  • JPY970. Train, Marugame Station to Awa-Ikeda Station.
  • JPY3,170. Bus, Awa-ikeda Station > Minokoshi.
  • JPY1,050. Chairlift up.
  • JPY1,380. Bus, Minokoshi to Kubo.
  • JPY1,280. Bus, Kubo to Oboke Station
  • JPY2,500. Express train, Oboke Station to Marugame
Hike Date / Difficulty (Elevation: 1955m / 6514ft)
  • September 21, 2020
  • Difficulty: 1 out of 5
  • Route below is around 5.4kilometers, with an elevation change of ▲682m/ ▽682m
  • PDF Map Link
  • I did this hike as part of a four night-four day trip to Shikoku. I'll link the blog post once it's published.
When to Go
Anytime during the year, but buses run from August til early November.

Special Notes
  • Trailhead. Just one. 
    • Mi-no-koshi (見ノ越). It is accessible via bus from three different stations.
      • The bus schedule is updated annually, so make sure you have the updated info. They DO NOT run for fixed periods. It is different per month, per route, and weekday/weekend rotations. So, check your dates beforehand. For 2020, this was the link and the schedule (so you can check the stations in between too). 
    • Here are the bus access from different train stations:
      • via Anabuku Station (穴吹駅). JPY2,490, 2 hours 25 minutes one way.
      • via Awa-ikeda Station (阿波池田). JPY3,170, 2 hours 40 minutes one way.
      • via Sadamitsu yu-yu-kan (道の駅 貞光ゆうゆう館). JPY2,000, 1 hour, 40 minutes one way. Closed for 2020.
  • Mountain huts.
    • Paid. There's one near the summit, at JPY5,600 for a night's stay, no meals. Reservations here.
    • Free. None that I can find.
    • Camping. Camping spots near the trailhead.
  • 06:00am. Started walking to the station. They don't accept IC card, so I had to go to the ticket machine and pay JPY970 in cash. I then went to platform 1 to wait for the train.
  • 06:33am. Train, Marugame Station to Kotohira Station.
  • 06:54am. Transfer at Kotohira Station. Had to go up the stairs to cross to platform 3. Entrance to the train is on the door farther from the stairs.
  • 06:58am. Train, Kotohira Station to Awa-ikeda Station.
  • 07:47am. Awa-ikeda Station. There's only one exit. I stopped by the 7-11 to buy some food, then started walking to the bus terminal. Upon exiting the station, it's to the right. About my 2 o'clock. The bus stop is right next to the flickering stop light (the one that just kept blinking orange haha). You'll see a restroom and the bus stops are next to it. Go to bus stop 1.
  • 07:55pm. Got into the bus stop. Fare has to be paid in the bus, and the bus does not have change for bills other than JPY1,000. The bus company's office is right next to the terminal, and I changed my JPY10,000 bill to JPY1,000 ones. There are a couple of buses that use the same bus stop, one goes to a ropeway and another to Kobe. Wait for the one that goes to Kubo at 8:15am.
  • 08:15am. Bus, Awa-ikeda Bus Terminal to Kubo.
  • 09:00am. One of the stops, Oboke Station, had a lot of people boarding the bus that the bus actually was standing room only. Most of them got off in the middle though - mainly the famous bridge, and soon enough the bus was left with the original group.
  • 10:06am. Paid JPY1,790. Transferred at Kubo Stop (here's the google maps pin for reference). Just get off the bus and wait for the small shuttle.
  • 10:08am. The small shuttle to Minokoshi arrived. We just boarded and that was it. Fare is JPY1,380.
  • 10:36am. We stopped at Nago (名頃) where the shuttle got full. On the next stop, the driver refused the passengers waiting as the shuttle was full. Hence, even if you go wait hours for the shuttle, there's no assurance you'll get in. In which case, you'll have to call a special taxi, which the nearest establishment can help you with.
  • 10:58am. This was the ETA to Minokoshi, but with the excessive traffic jam, we got off the bus at 11:30am. Not even a the bus stop - we stopped about 100 or so meters away, as all cars were not moving at all. So we decided to get off and walk the rest of the way.
  • 11:35am. Arrived at the chairlift, where I bought a one way ticket.
  • 11:50am. Arrived at the end of the lift, I started getting ready. The restroom was, uhm, the normal mountain restroom which is basically a toilet that is really just a hole. So, if you can, take the restroom break before going up. I got ready for my hike.
  • 11:55am. Start hike. Once I got off the chairlift, the quickest way to summit is the steep route to my left - which is easy to spot, as it's the only path going up. It was a rather decent slope up, with minimal flat spots, and no descent.
  • 12:17pm. The clouds started covering the view. Drats.
  • 12:27pm. I arrived at the plateau, where people spend most of their time just enjoying the view. I needed to summit, so I turned right.
  • 12:30pm. Summit! There are a couple of markers, so pick whichever spot is good for you. I took plenty of pictures, because this place was so picturesque. I was lucky enough that the summit had a clear view, as opposed to the cloudy section on the other side.
  • 12:40pm. I was done with my pictures, and started heading down. I took a different trail, the less steep one this time. Basically any trail that leads back to the bus stop has more or less the same expected time.
  • 01:34pm. I passed through underneath chairlift.
  • 01:43pm. Arrived at the bus stop. A bit difficult to find, here's the google pin for it. I was trying to get to use the bus to Anabuku, but they were apparently not running for the entirety of September for 2020.
  • 02:55pm. Bus, Minokoshi to Kubo.
  • 03:25pm. We stopped at Nago, where half of the people got off. It seems like it's common to do Mt. Misen, whose trailhead is Nago, and Mt. Tsurugi on subsequent days.
  • 03:45pm. Arrived at Kubo stop. The next bus is at 4:44pm, so we have an hour wait.
  • 04:44pm. Bus, Kubo to Awa-ikeda Bus Terminal. Based on my discussion with some Japanese folks while waiting, it is faster to stop at Oboke Station and take the limited express train, rather than go as far as Awa-ikeda. As that will change my ETA by at least an hour and a half, I decided I'd pay the net additional ~JPY1,000 haha.
  • 05:57pm. Arrived at Oboke Station. Went straight to the ticket machine - it is in English, so that helped given the rush. Bought two tickets - one for the train ride and another for the premium charge for the express ticket. There's a guide on the machine on how much to pay depending on where you're getting off. But if you cannot buy the ticket, no worries, you can just buy at the train guy that'll be checking tickets while you're inside the train. Just tell him where you got on and where you're getting off.
  • 07:00pm. Marugame Station.
Going to Marugame Station. Right in front of the South Exit is this... art... thingy.

Upon exiting Awa-Ikeda Station, the bus terminal is a couple minutes' walk. 

The bus terminal. The building to the left is the bus company's office - which doesn't sell tickets, but will change JPY10,000 bills. 

The view at the bus was gorgeous. I recommend sitting on the left side of the bus. 

A mere two hours later, we get to transfer at Kubo (久保)

Here's the shuttle, that doesn't have a lot in terms of capacity. Plus the middle area have seats, so if there are too many people boarding, you can't squeeze in. Hence, there is a risk that you won't be able to get in the shuttle. Which merely twice a day. 

With minimal public transport access, everyone brings cars. Hence, the entire place is packed with cars, even at the road, turning the last couple of kilometers' road into a one way one. The traffic here was the worst I've ever had in my four year stay in Japan. 

So we've decided to walk, and soon enough I got into the chairlift. I wasn't planning on using the chair lift, but I've already lost 30 minutes due to the bad traffic. 

To be fair, the view at the chairlift was pretty nice. 

Once I got off, there's a path in front to the restroom, and a path to the left to hike up. 

I'm surprised that Mt. Tsurugi is a rainforest. At least I think it is?

Beautiful, mossy path. 

There's the summit!

View from the summit. 

One of the summit markers. 

After taking lots of pictures, I now have to head down to catch my bus. 

There's a fork close to the summit - the path on my right is the one I took going up, which is shorter but steeper. The path on the left is longer and less steep. Going down, I took the path to the left. 

Feels like Mt. Tanzawa.

The rather gentle descent. 

Still gorgeous views though.

Thankfully the clouds on this side have lifted. 

There's a shrine in here, and a building that I thought was an emergency hut (the one on the left). Yet when I tried the door, it was locked. Guess it's not an emergency hut. 

This fork goes to the same place, but one is longer than the other. I chose the shorter route. 

This is so relaxing to me. 

The little tunnel to go under the chairlift. 

And soon I was done! The bus stop is to the left. 

Bus stop! The bus will come here on time, so just make sure to wait. If in doubt, call them. 

This is a sign while we were at Kubo stop - for those who cannot get in the shuttle, you'll have to get a taxi. Since the trip took an hour, I don't think that's gonna be cheap. 

Oboke Train Station. 

Apparently this is a famous bridge and people go here to see this bridge. Unfortunately, with how far Mt. Tsurugi is and the rarity of the public transportation, I wasn't able to stop by. 

But look at those vines!

Back at Marugame, I had the local food - udon and chicken on a bone. Yum!