Ishizuchi-san and Circuit

Key information: Ishizuchi-san and Circuit

  • This rough, wildly weathered mountain is the highest in western Japan. Long a focus of Shugendo mountain ascetics, it became an important Buddhist site.
  • There are at least 3 day-walk approaches. The mountain can also be walked in a particularly fine circuit over two days, which climbs the great peak on day 1, then swings around high ground, still often with huge views.

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Vital Statistics

  • Length: Your choice
  • Maximum Altitude: 1,982m
  • Level of Difficulty: Strenuous

This walk description page is at an early stage of development, and will be expanded over time. Your comments on this walk, your experiences and tips, and your photos are very welcome.

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WALK SUMMARY

This rough, wildly weathered mountain is the highest in western Japan, at 1,982m. Long a focus of Shugendo mountain ascetics (it was said to have been first climbed by En-no-Ozunu in the C7 - see our Kumano Kodo page for more information), it became an important Buddhist site.

There are at least 3 day-walk approaches: from Sanchojoju cable car station to Tsuchi-goya (day 1 of the 2-day walk described below), or a return walk to/from Tsuchi-goya, 5 km or 3 hrs or so; and a 5hr or so ascent from Omogo-kei.

The mountain can also be walked in a particularly fine circuit over two days, which climbs the great peak on day 1, then swings around high ground, still often with huge views, before descending through cedar plantations. Always an attraction to the lazy walker, it begins at the top of a cable car.

The 1-10 July mountain opening festival sees tens of thousands of white-clad pilgrims and yamabushi climbing to the peak. They are said to form a white stripe up the mountain. The climbing season is, however, early May to late October or even early November.

Ascend, often steeply, through lovely forest, then enjoy the drama and visual treats of the high ridges above the tree-line. The final ascent, up a series of chains up steep rock, is a thrill, although avoidance for those with issues with heights. You then walk on to Tsuchi-goya, making for a 8km, 5 hour or so traverse. You can stay at Tsuchi-goya, so heavy packs aren't needed.

Day 2 is a longish (10km/7 hr) traverse of high ridges, bagging a couple of peaks and enjoying superb views for most of the walk. 

This is one Japan's wettest areas. Come prepared.

See our Shikoku page for further general and practical information and photographs.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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