Mt Azumaya (四阿山)

31 December 2023
Mt Azumaya (四阿山)

For Mountain Day last year in August I climbed Mt Azumaya (四阿山, Azumaya-san) and the neighbouring Mt Neko (根子岳, Neko-dake) in Nagano. After starting hiking in May with a bunch of low-lying mountains like Mt Tsukuba and Mt Mitake, this was my first "big" mountain at an elevation of 2354m. It was also my second 100 Famous Japanese Mountain.

I went with a hiking group off There was 25 of us, which made it the largest group I've ever hiked together with.

A long walk up a steep road

After getting off the bus, your stamina is first tested by a long road you need to walk up to reach the actual start of the trail.

the hill
Looking back down the hill

It was a sunny, 35 degrees day which made me glad for the trees that provided coverage from the sun. I also was very glad for the long-sleeve UV jacket I was wearing. I didn’t put any sunscreen on arms so my exposed fingers and knuckles actually got a bit sunburnt by the end of the day.

unhappy boi
One unhappy boi

Along the way we saw two dogs. One wasn’t very happy to see us (and barked at us both on the way there and on the way back). The other was a very cute Shiba Inu named Genki who dragged his poor owner over to come say hi to us.

good boi
One good boi

Reaching Mt Azumaya

Once we started the trail, I was a bit worried about the sun bearing down on us but thanks to the tree cover it was not as hot as I expected.

Once you pop out from amongst the trees you get some nice views of the surrounding mountain ranges.

the mountains

While the trail wasn’t hard (even doable for a newbie hiker like I was at the time) it does test your endurance. Our group ended up splitting into smaller ones as some people went ahead and others fell behind. Some people turned back after they summited Mt Azumaya as they were too tired to attempt the second mountain. Which was very reasonable given the heat.

mt azumaya
The view from the top of Mt Azumaya

Although Mt Azumaya is one of the 100 Famous Mountains, the highlight of this trip for me was the second mountain we climbed, Neko-dake. If anything I think this mountain should be the famous one. I definitely want to come back and climb this one in another season!

Neko-dake is so beautiful!

Descending Mt Azumaya was a bit depressing because the more you descend, the more you’re going to have to climb again. But once we climbed down Mt Azumaya and reached the base of Neko-dake, it was all worth it for that view.

mt neko
Neko-dake in all its glory

In all the mountains I had previously climbed, you’re in amongst the trees most of the time so there isn't too much scenery. But this one you could see all the way up to the summit. It felt like something out of those Microsoft wallpapers - except it's a a literal mountain and not just a hill!

By this point I was quite tired, and taking a lot of breaks. But even when you take a break you can just stand there and admire the view so that wasn’t too bad too.

back towards azumaya
Looking back towards Mt Azumaya

Once you reach the top of Neko-dake (elevation 2182m), there’s a little shrine which I forgot to take a picture of (oops). From there we descended carefully as we tried not to trip over all the broken up rocks.

neko dake
The descent - lots of small rock shards

I ended up not really taking any more photos on the way down because we were trying to rush to make sure we didn’t miss the bus!

Hiking course details

Date climbedLengthCourse time
2022-08-1115km7h40m (the expected time for an average hiker without breaks)

This course can be made easier if you skip Neko-dake or are driving to the trailhead (the bus stop to the trailhead is 2.5km).

There is only one toilet, available at the trailhead.

I also remember there being an entrance fee to enter the trailhead so I recommend bringing some cash.

Public transport access with example schedule

There are two separate bus schedules depending on the season. You can find the PDFs underneath the 時刻表 section.

06:28東京 (とうきょう)Shinkansen6990
07:52上田 (うえだ)

With the standard course time plus a break, you should be able to make the 17:40 return bus, and if you miss it there is one final one at 18:25. If you are fast enough, you can catch the earlier 16:35 bus (we ran to catch this one!) which might give you time to stop off at an onsen along the way.


Total cost: 14,980

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Mt Arashima (荒島岳)
09 June
Mt Ibuki (伊吹山)
Mt Ibuki (伊吹山)
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Mt Tonnomune (鳥ノ胸山)
Mt Tonnomune (鳥ノ胸山)
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