Back in 2007 during the Golden Week, we did a climb of Mount Nantai (男体山) in Nikko, Tochigi.
Mount Nantai is a 2,486-meter stratovolcano beside Lake Chūzenji, a popular destination of hikers from around the Kantō Area of Japan. Although its last eruption was 7,000 years ago, it has recently been classified as “active” by the Japan Meteorological Agency.
A prominent volcano, on clear winter days, it can be seen as far as Saitama and Ibaraki. It is one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Japan.
Mountaineering website SummitPost.org has a good overview of climbing Mount Nantai.
The Golden Week climb
The Golden Week vacation (late April and early May) is a good time to climb Mount Nantai, not too hot as in the summer and not much snow and ice near the summit to present danger to the ordinary hiker.
We wanted a leisurely hike so planned an overnight stay on one of the mountain huts along the way to the top. (We also started relatively late as drove all the way from Tsukuba, Ibaraki, around 145 kilometers away.)
We took hundreds of photos among the four of us; I’ve picked the good ones to show the hike.
It was late afternoon when we got near the mountain hut, with a good view of the lake below.
Time to prepare for the overnight stay. But first, we had to make the coffee.
The only well-maintained hut we managed to find along the way.
It could have been better but as long as we got roof over our heads, we couldn’t complain. We pitched a tent inside and slept in our sleeping bags.
The book in the photo is the 100 Selected Hikes in the Kantō Region ( 関東の山あるき100選), a great book if you’re based around the Tokyo metropolitan area (it’s in Japanese).
Yamanashi is technically not part of Kantō area, but most of the mountains of the prefecture are covered in this book, like Mount Aka (赤岳 Akadake), Mount Kita (北岳 Kitadake) and, of course, Mount Fuji (富士山).
We made and ate our dinners with only our headlights for illumination.
Lake Chūzenji below looks so peaceful under the fading glow of the setting sun.
Luckily for us, we got a pretty good weather the next day. There was still snow near the summit but we had a spectacular panoramic view of the lake.
Slow ascent to the summit.
In some places, the melting snow made the ascent more tedious than normal.
The great, inviting mountains of southern Tochigi is clearly visible near Mount Nantai’s summit.
I believe that prominent snow-covered peak on the left side is 2,578-meter Mount Nikkō-Shirane (日光白根山) on the border with Gunma, the highest point of both prefectures. It’s one of the mountains that I’ve always planned to climb but somehow couldn’t find time to.
And after a few hours of steady ascent we reached the top.
The obligatory group photo at the top, under the watchful eye of the Great God of Futarasan ( 二荒山大神像).
Mount Nantai is a sacred mountain in both Buddhism and Shinto and is maintained by Futarasan Jinja, hence the statue of Futarasan Ōkami on the summit.
Futarasan Jinja is part of the Shrines and Temples of Nikkō, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
And another group photo.
One more look at the summit before the descent.
And it’s time to get back down so we could drive back to the flatlands of Ibaraki before the sun sets.