The Takashima Trail is an 80km hike across 12 peaks along the central divide in Shiga prefecture. Although I haven't hiked the entire trail, I was kindly invited to hike a popular section of the trail and write an article due to the lack of English information for travellers in Japan. It is rarely hiked in its entirety, so it's considered one of the quietest and least developed trails in Japan. The most common section hikes of the trail are Mt. Norikura and Mt. Akasaka, due to their easy access and beautiful views. Continuing further along the trail will lead you deep into the mountains where wild camping is your main option of accomodation. I have not been able to find any non-japanese people who have done the entire trail, and there is basically no information for it online. So if you're planning to hike the entire trail I would love to get your input regarding the experience so other people can more easily plan for the full 5 day hike.
Access and itineraries
The trail starts from Kunizakai kogen snow park, you can catch a bus there from Makino station. This section is the most popular option for a day hike, going up to Mt. Norikura and across to Mt. Akasaka, then heading down to the campground and onsen. From here you'll need to catch a short taxi ride back to the station.
Norikura to Akasaka day hike
Time: 8-9 hrs
Distance: 16 km
Elevation change: ➚950m gain ➘1150m loss
GPS map: outdooractive.com
The full 5-day hike itinerary has been provided to me by a local guide who grew up in Takashima. You will need to bring a map (linked below, purchased near Makino station), a compass, and sufficient water/camping supplies. I'm including the Japanese version so you can cross check this with your topography map.
Here's the itinerary the guide sent me:
Day 1: 愛発越登山口 → 乗鞍岳 → 芦原岳 → 黒河峠（テント泊）
Day 2: 黒河峠 → 三国山湿原 → 明王の禿 → 赤坂山 → 寒風 → 大谷山 → 抜土（テント泊）
Day 3: 抜土 → 近江坂 → 大御影山 → 三重嶽 → 武奈ヶ嶽 → 二の谷山 → 横谷峠（テント泊）
Day 4: 横谷峠 → 駒ヶ岳 → 桜谷山 → 木地山峠 → 百里ヶ岳 → おにゅう峠（テント泊）
Day 5: おにゅう峠 → 三国峠 → 地蔵峠 → 岩谷峠 → 三国岳 → 丹波越 → 桑原橋
Day 1: Arachi no Seki mountain trail → Mt. Norikura → Mt. Ashihara → Kurokawa Pass (tent night)
Day 2: Kurokawa Pass → Mikuniyama Marsh → Meio's Bald → Akasakayama → Cold Wind → Otaniyama → Excavation (tent night)
Day 3: Excavation → Omisaka → Omikageyama → Sanjodake → Mt. Bunagatake → Ninotaniyama → Yokotani Pass (tent night)
Day 4: Yokotani Pass → Komagatake → Sakurayayama → Kijiyama Pass → Hyakurigatake → Onyu Pass (tent night)
*Since there is no water place on the Onyu Pass, it is advisable to secure water at the Kijiyama Pass.
Day 5: Onyu Pass → Mikuni Pass → Jizo Pass → Iwatani Pass → Mikunidake → Tambakoshi → Kuwanohara bridge
Transport back to the station?
Once you finish the final day at Mikunidake, you will need to reach the nearest train station. The guide advised me there is a local bus not on google maps (Harihata Line) which will take you to Adogawa station. In this case I would recommend talking to locals for further information or considering a taxi. The official map which can be purchased from the Makino roadside station will include markers such as bus stops (linked below).
The Takashima Trail has a lot to offer for those who prefer to escape the well established and busy hiking trails most often talked about in Japan. And now that hiking is becoming more popular, there is a greater need for quiet and undisturbed mountains. Due to the remote nature of the trail and lack of amenities, experience with wild camping and multi-day hikes is required, it's also strongly recommended to avoid hiking this one alone. Follow the normal cautions for potential encounters with wildlife such as wild boars, hornets, and monkeys. On that note, it's advisable to bring bear spray as bear sightings have increased in recent years.