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Photo By: Cara Lam
Region
Chubu
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Niigata
Population
2,475,724

Mount Yoneyama

A spiritual hike up Niigata’s guardian of prosperity.

Climbing Mt. Yoneyama is more than just a hike with a great view. It leaves travelers with a lasting impression of the local culture of Niigata prefecture in the Kanto region.

Positioned between the cities of Joetsu and Kashiwazaki, Mt. Yoneyama is considered a sacred local landmark in the Yoneyama-Fukura-Hakkei Prefectural Natural Park of Niigata Prefecture.  It’s also believed to be a “guardian” of local residents, animals, rich harvests and abundant precipitation.

Photo by: Kakizaki Tourism Association Wild flowers at Yoneyama. (Special thanks to Kakizaki Tourism Association.)

The climb

A trip to this mountain rewards hikers with a panoramic view of the Sea of Japan — or a starry sky at night — as you reach the top of the mountain that’s more than 900 meters tall. Basically, good things are to come after a climb.

Speaking of which, the climb to the top gets steep at times, but travelers can choose between the one-hour and two-hour courses that cater to their fitness abilities. Hiking up to the summit is a treasure hunt: One moment you find rows of Bodhisattva statues (which look like female buddhas!) among the bushes, and the next moment you find a little two-story rest house on the summit.

Free rest spot

In fact, that house is where you want to be. Whether just to have a lunch break or to crash for a night, the free-of-charge rest house is well-equipped with an abundant supply of futons, blankets, fans and maps.

In summer months, hikers like to ascend the mountain at night, take a doze at the house, and wake up to the sunrise with the view of Kashiwazaki lying below their feet. These types of rest houses are typical for Japanese mountains, but be sure to bring plenty of food and water for the hike, as these are not provided.

After ringing the bell at the nearby shrine, take time to soak in the spectacular view before making your way down.

Photo by: Kakizaki Tourism Association From afar. (Special thanks to Kakizaki Tourism Association.)

Summer events

To witness how the lives of the locals are intertwined with this majestic mountain, visit Yoneyama Station in Kashiwazaki on the first Sunday of June, when a public ritual prayer for safety takes place every year.

Or, if you’re more on the active side, take part in the annual Yoneyama-Sanroku road race in April. The run around Mt. Yoneyama’s neighborhoods will give you a close understanding of lives of those living in the rice country of Japan.

Things To Know

What to bring

Bring a bento and plenty of water for the hike. Hiking sticks are also highly recommended. If you’re planning to climb Mt. Yoneyama at night, bring flashlights and bear bells to be on the safe side.

How To Get There

By bus

For routes 1 to 3, take the Shinetsu Main Line to Kakizaki station, then take the bus from Kubiki Higher Company to Shimomaki (route 1) or Mizuno (route 2 and 3) bus stops. For routes 4 and 5, take the train directly to Yoneyama station. *Required reservation for using the bus.

By car

Trailheads to routes 1 and 3 are located about 25 minutes from Hokuriku Expressway Kakizaki Interchange. Parking available at trailheads.

By foot

Different trailheads for Mt. Yoneyama:

From Kakizaki, Joetsu:

Route 1: From Shimomaki Bus Stop, takes about 2.5 hours.

Route 2: From Mizuno Bus Stop, takes about 2.5 hours.

Route 3: From Mizuno forest endpoint, takes about 1 hour 20 minutes.

 

From Yoneyama Station, Kashiwazaki:

Route 4: Using the Ohira Climbing route, takes about 2.5 hours.

Route 5: Using the Ohira Forest route, takes about 3 hours 10 minutes.    

Where To Stay

Hotel Route-Inn Court Kashiwazaki
  • Hiyoshi-cho 2-56 Kashiwazaki-Shi, Niigata 945-0043
  • 5.9/10
  • 11.9 km
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Unkai
  • Yomogihira 11-1 Tokamachi-Shi, Niigata 942-1544
  • 8.2/10
  • 21.0 km
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Sansho House
  • Matsunoyamakotani 327 Tokamachi-Shi, Niigata 942-1402
  • 9.6/10
  • 24.4 km
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Hotel Route-Inn Jouetsu
  • Shioyashinden Shimonomagari 157-1 Joetsu-Shi, Niigata 942-0064
  • 7.7/10
  • 24.8 km
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