Hiking Distance: 18.5km
Time: 2 Days
Elevation change: ➚1680m ➘1680m
➚ ➘ 1680m
Huts & Campsites
Mt. Tsurugi is a famous mountain located on the border of Toyama and Nagano. In summer the mountain is known for it's for chains, ladders, and assisted rock climbing. The most common way to access Mt. Tsurugi is via Tateyama due to the public transport available. The hike described here is a two day hike including the Tateyama peak, and one night spent at either the Tsurugisawa Campsite or the Kenzanso mountain hut. Like many of the famous mountains in the Alps there can be large crowds on weekends and holidays, so careful planning will be required if you're hiking on those days.
If you have a car then you can also access Mt. Tsurugi from the northern ridge at the Banbajima trailhead (馬場島荘) linked below.
If you're planning to drive then you have two options:
1. You can choose to skip Tateyama by parking near the trailhead at Banbajima located here, parking is free and there's a nice campground if you want to spend the night. The round-trip time for this approach is about 13 hours, you can camp half way at the Hayatsuki Hut.
2. If you want to include Tateyama then you'll need to park around Tateyama station and then catch the cable car mentioned below. There's a free parking lot near the station located here.
Access to Murodo, where the hiking begins, is done by catching a cable car from Tateyama station and then a connecting bus. The roundtrip cost is approximately ¥4400 and online reservations are recommended to avoid long wait times. Tickets can be booked here.
Kyoto/Osaka: For Kyoto and Osaka, you'll need to reach Toyama station before catching the train to Tateyama station. The cheapest option is a direct bus, it takes approximately 8 hours and you can make reservations here. It costs around ¥4700 - ¥7500.
Tokyo: Access from Tokyo is done via Nagano or Toyama station with the shinkansen or highway bus. Total cost including connections ranges from ¥8,000-¥15,000. You can view more details here.
Murodo to Tsurugi-sawa campground
GPS Hiking Map: outdooractive.com
Time: 6 hrs
Distance: 7 km
Elevation change: ➚ 700m gain ➘ 630m loss
From the bus stop at Murodo you will be hiking on fully paved trails toward Onanji, the peak of Tateyama. The quickest way is via the Ishinokoshi mountain hut and this will take a little over 2 hours. After Onanji you'll be hiking along the ridgeline toward Mt. Bessan, this will also take about 2 hours. From here you will see Mt. Tsurugi, the campground and the Tsurugi-sawa mountain hut. From here it will take about an hour to reach the campground and you have some optional extras such as the Mt. Bessan peak (extra 15 mins) and the Mt. Tsurugi-gozen peak (extra 50 mins).
Mt. Tsurugi and back to Murodo
GPS Hiking Map: outdooractive.com
Time: 8 hrs
Distance: 11.5 km
Elevation change: ➚ 980m gain ➘ 1050m loss
From your campsite, or the Kenzanso hut, it will take about 2.5 hours to reach the peak of Mt. Tsurugi. I think it's best to start hiking about half an hour before the sunrise but some choose to start at 3am which is especially wise on busy weekends and holidays. The trail is clearly marked, but on your way back pay attention as some sections diverge into two paths to accomodate for two-way traffic.
Once you get back in view of the Kenzanso hut, stick to the ridgline and follow the map towards the Tsurugigozen mountain hut. Once you reach the hut it's important to stay on the ridgeline as this is the nicest trail. Continue along the ridgeline then head down toward the large campground, you can fill up your water here for free.
From the campground you will resume hiking on paved trails which are now meandering around active volcanic vents and gas clouds. After another hour you will reach the beautiful Mikuriga-ike pond and then arrive back to the bus stop.
Weather and Seasons
Summer and autumn, from June to October, are the best times for this hike. There is likely to be snow hanging around until July. The autumn leaves will be colourful from mid-September to mid-October.