Mt Hodo (宝登山)

01 March 2024
Mt Hodo (宝登山)

Mt Hodo (宝登山, Hodo-san) is a low-lying mountain in Saitama prefecture. It's most famous for its yellow wintersweet flowers (ロウバイ) which bloom towards the end of winter each year. The route we took is also known as the Nagatoro Alps (長瀞アルプス), and it's a very beginner-friendly and accessible course which will take you just under 4 hours to complete.

alps
From the start of the hike you get a clear view of the Nagatoro Alps in the distance.
trail start
Once you pass through the town you finally reach the start of the trail.

The trail up to Mt Hodo is very easily walkable and not too steep, except for a final set of stairs near the summit.

trail
The trees aren't too close, so you get glimpses of the town in between the trees.
stairs
The final push to the summit is up a long set of stairs.
mt hodo
The summit of Mt Hodo

The summit was pretty busy, as it's also accessible via a ropeway. It was a clear winter's day so everyone was taking in the warm sun and enjoying the views across to Saitama's other mountain ranges.

In the distance we spotted Saitama's 100 Famous Mountain, Mt Ryokami, which has a very distinctive-looking shape.

mt ryokami
Mt Ryokami is the is the large peak just visible behind the other mountain ranges.

You can also see Saitama's other iconic peak, Mt Buko, which I tried my best to get a photo of with the wintersweet flowers in frame as well.

mt buko
Mt Buko is pointy-looking mountain towards the center of the picture.

Close to the summit is a large garden, with both wintersweet trees as well as many plum blossom trees.

garden
The garden.
wintersweet
A close-up of the wintersweet flowers.
plum
Some plum blossoms.

Close to the ropeway station there were also some food stalls, including a very intriguing miso-flavoured ice cream which I decided to pass up on given the cold weather (alas...)

The trail back down to Nagatoro station was nothing notable, as it's basically a road all the way down. I think this mountain is definitely one that's worth visiting while the flowers are blooming.

trail down
The trail down was mostly like this.

Nagatoro station seemed to be a popular tourist destination in its own right, with a lot of stores and restaurants. So if possible it's a good idea to finish your hike here, since there's a lot of options if you want to grab dinner or kill some time after your hike.

There was one store that had a funny dioarama going on in the shop window as well.

godzilla 1
The shop owner clearly likes Godzilla and Evangelion.
godzilla 2
Not too sure if they're helping the cars? Or if they've caused this destruction...

Since we came by car, we walked from Nagatoro station back to the start of the trail at Nogami station. At one point you get to cross a train track, which was kind of exciting since aside from the warning bells, there's no barriers at all.

train
The passing train
train crossing
Crossing the train tracks
carpark
The city hall carpark where we started our hike.

Finally it was back to the carpark, and then onto our final destination, an onsen. There weren't any onsens super close to the trail, so this one was a little out of the way, but it was well worth it!

It's right alongside the Arakawa river, so you get nice view of the river as you relax in the rotenburo (open-air hot spring) outside.

onsen
秩父川端温泉梵の湯 (Chichibu Kawabata Onsen Bon-no-yu)

On our drive home, we also got a clear look at Mt Buko, which due to some recent cold weather was strikingly covered in snow.

mt buko snow
The quarried out ridges of Mt Buko.

Hiking course details

Date climbedLengthCourse time
2024-02-178.3km3h47m (the expected time for an average hiker without breaks)

This course can be made easier by taking the ropeway on the way up or down.

There are toilets available at the summit.

Public transport access with example schedule

TimeLocationTransportCost
06:20東京(とうきょう)Train1906
08:33野上 (のがみ)

Since it's a fairly short course, I think you don't have to worry too much about the train timings, making it a very accessible hike.

TimeLocationTransportCost
14:54長瀞 (ながとろ)Train1946
17:06東京
Trip total:3852

Car access details

Car parkTime
?
Cost
?
長瀞町役場庁舎前 駐車場 (ながとろまちやくしょちょうしゃまえ ちゅうしゃじょう)1h50m1700

This carpark is outside the Nagatoro city hall, and the fee is 300yen, which you pay into a wooden box outside the building entrance. When we arrived (quite late) at around 11:30am, the carpark was full, but luckily we snagged a spot from a hiker that was already on his way out.

If this carpark is full, you can head towards Nagatoro station and there are a couple of other paid parking lots, as well a large one available near the base of the ropeway station.

Related tags

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