Mt Ibuki (伊吹山)

09 June 2024
Mt Ibuki (伊吹山)

Mt Ibuki (伊吹山, ibuki-yama) is a Hundred Famous Mountain located west of Nagoya on the border of Shiga and Gifu prefectures.

Unfortunately due to heavy rainfall, a portion of the main mountain trail collapsed in July 2023, and currently the only way to access Mt Ibuki is via the Ibukiyama Driveway, a scenic 17km drive up towards the peak of the mountain. From there, it's a quick 30 min stroll to the summit. So today's “hike” was more of a driving and sightseeing tour rather than anything else!

mt ibuki from car
Our first glimpse of Mt Ibuki from the drive into Nagoya

We set out from Tokyo in the early morning, and about 6 hours later (taking some small breaks along the way) we arrived near the Ibukiyama Driveway.

battle of sekigahara

On the way towards the Driveway, we coincidentally drove past the spot of the Battle of Sekigahara and I got an impromptu history lesson on a battle that was considered a major turning point in Tokugawa Ieyasu's rise to power.

A map of the battlefield, on a hill overlooking the battlefield itself.

We visited the site of the battle itself - just a small rice field - and as well as a nearby hill where you could get a view overlooking it. The signboard had an audio description in both Japanese and English, and the English version's voice acting was surprisingly good. I'd recommend checking out some of the sites if you happened to be in the area.

mt ibuki toll booth
The toll booth to enter the Ibukiyama driveway

From there we started the drive up the Ibukiyama Driveway. The weather forecast was a little bit of rain, so there was a very thick fog clouding the entire drive up.

before the fog
The drive before we descended into the fog…
the fog

As we arrived at the carpark near the summit, I knew that theoretically there was a large carpark with a building at the back of it, but the visibility was so poor we basically had to inch along looking out for parked cars at any second.

carpark visibility
trail start
The start of the trail

The hike to the summit wasn't much better. If this was more of a proper hike, I definitely would not have gone up in these conditions, but since this was an easy 30 minute walk, it was still manageable. If I didn't have my hiking app with its GPS map, I honestly would have gotten lost.

trail 1 trail 2

I was surprised to see about 3 or 4 buildings at the summit. We visited on a weekday, and the weather was really bad so I'm not sure if they were open, but I think it's a testament to how popular of a mountain Mt Ibuki is.

peak marker 1
One of the peak markers
mt ibuki peak
The official peak marker, 1377m.

Mt Ibuki is also famous for its flowers in the late spring to early summer, but unfortunately we didn't get to see any of that today!

board walk Once we descended the mountain and started heading back down the Driveway, the fog did clear up a little bit. I'm sure the views would be pretty spectacular on a clear day. (Also you have to pay 3000 yen to use this Driveway so you'd hope it would be).

ibukiyama driveway
If you were wondering, I've named the car Jim-chan (it's a Jimny)

We even passed a couple of deer on the side of the road. I was googling the mountain trail closures and apparently the deer are eating all the grass and causing soil erosion and damage to the mountains. Oh deer.


Once we got off the Ibukiyama Driveway, we continued driving east towards Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan. Honestly the water was pretty brown and it wasn't that pretty of a lake. What was cool however, was being able to see Mt Ibuki in the distance.

mt ibuki from lake biwa
A bit hard to see, but that's Mt Ibuki in the background on the left

It was mostly covered by cloud but I was surprised by how strikingly big it looked. It only has an elevation of 1377m, which is tiny by Tokyo standards - I climb plenty of mountains with an elevation like that all the time. But Mt Ibuki is the highest peak in Shiga prefecture, so just by having nothing else as tall around it makes it really stand out.

michi no eki
My place to sleep for the night

From here I finished my sightseeing and made the 2 hour drive over to Fukui, where I planned to climb Mt Arashima the next day. Fukui's claim to fame is having discovered a number of dinosaur fossils, so I slept in my car at the appropriately-themed Michi-no-Eki Katsuyama. Cute, but also creepy at night.

dinosaur 1
This dinosaur is a slide
dinosaur 2
This guy is a large head you can stand inside

Hiking course details

Date climbedLengthCourse time
2024-05-312.4km1h9min (the expected time for an average hiker without breaks)

The official loop course near the summit is 2.4km, but due to the lack of visibility we just did the shortest possible out-and-back course at only 1.3km.

Unfortunately the longer trail (which is about 10km) has been closed since July 2023 due to heavy rainfall.

Public transportation access

Mt Ibuki is usually public transport accessible, and can even be done as a day trip from Tokyo (if you're willing to pay the expensive Shinkansen fare).

If you wake up early, you can get on a Shinkansen to Maibara station and arrive around 8:30am. From there there is a bus that takes you to the trailhead. However with the trail closures, the bus service that usually starts running in the spring season was not in operation. It's currently scheduled to be re-opened in mid-July for the summer season.

Since the hiking course you can take is currently so short (at most an hour if you do a full loop) I'm not sure that it's worth paying that much money to visit all the way from Tokyo. Maybe when the trail re-opens, or only if you happen to be in the Nagoya area anyway, would I consider climbing this mountain.

Car access details

The Ibukiyama Driveway is a 450km, 5 - 6 hour drive from Tokyo. There is a 3140 yen toll to enter, which you can also pay by credit card. I would check the official website before making the trip just to double-check that there are no road closures. Once you reach the top of the driveway, there is a large carpark.

Related tags

Check out some of my other posts!

Mt Zao (蔵王山)
Mt Zao (蔵王山)
13 June
Mt Arashima (荒島岳)
Mt Arashima (荒島岳)
09 June
Mt Tonnomune (鳥ノ胸山)
Mt Tonnomune (鳥ノ胸山)
24 May
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