Mt. Hotaka – a great day hike to the peak of one of Japan’s 100 famous mountains, with a breathtaking 360 degree view over Gunma’s scenery.
The Katashina Village Office organized a day trip to climb Mt. Hotaka, which I joined. Nonetheless, you can definitely reach the peak on your own as well, as the path is also signposted in English. A bus brought our mixed group of about 30 people, young & old, to the Hotaka Pasture ski area. We took the chairlift up to Hotaka Bokujo (Hotaka Campground), where we were split into 3 groups.
Following our guide we started the 14km roundtrip, at first walking through Hotaka’s beautiful beech forest on relatively flat ground. After a while the trail starts to incline.
Small Mizubasho (Asian Skunk Cabbage)
Then the route leads through small bamboo bushes and the path is also covered with the little twigs to cover up the mud. Some parts of the way are quite muddy but maybe that is because the raining season just ended here. However, it is probably recommendable to have steady walking shoes for this hike.
We had been walking for quite a bit until we reached an open field with a large view. Looking down at our starting point in the distance, I only realized how much we had been walking already.
We continued until we made a stop just before one of the best parts of the trek: the climb. A little challenge on the way – so fun! There are approx. 3 metres to climb up a stone-wall. A chain and a rope are attached to the wall for safety. However, I hope I am not scaring you about this part, don’t worry, the older ladies of the group also made it to the top. After you have conquered the climb, there is only about 1.5km left to the peak.
Mount Hotaka is a sacred mountain and has been worshipped for many years. In the past many followers of the Shugen-do asceticism visited this holy place. In addition, you will pass the statue of prince ‘Yamato Takeru-no-mikoto’ who apparently is half god and half human. It is said that he trekked over the Hotaka Pass on his eastern expedition.
The 2,158.3m peak has a wonderful 360 degree view over the entire landscape. You can see Mt. Shibutsu, Mt. Nikko-shirane and many more mountain peaks of the Gunma prefecture. Enjoy & fully absorb the panoramic scenery!
Grab your hiking boots and discover Katashina FUNtashina!