Thursday, 3 December 2009


Asakusa-dake -1584m/5197ft- is a mountain in the west of Aizu, Fukishima-ken, just west of Tadami on the border with Niigata-ken. This wonderful mountain affords stupendous views and has a variety of routes up it, from the spectacular switchbacks of the sharp Onigatsura ridge to the south, to the more benign and gradual route which approaches from the north-east.

The south ridge and southern flank paths
The south ridge from Asakusa-dake summit. Onigatsura Yama on the left, Kitadake on the right.
The south ridge can be accessed from either end of the tunnel at the top of the pass. This route involves steep paths on a serrated, often sharp ridge with big cliffs to the side. There is a small area to park below the west end of the tunnel, or you can use the train that stops at a small station on the Tadami line, at the foot of the southern path. A circuit can be made by combining the southern ridge, which is joined 600m west of the summit, with the southern flank path which heads steeply south from the top of Asakusak-dake, and linking their bottoms with the road. Be careful on the road too, as traffic is nervous and concentrating on the road not you, and the tunnel is unlit: carry a light. The southern flank path is a steep slog, with some roped sections on small crags on the way up and small sections of narrow ridge.

The north east approach  
The gentler route from the north east  climbs 1,136m (3,727ft) in steady stages and has good views even in summer, but no exposure to drops or sharp ridges. This makes for a more relaxing, scenic day. An alternative loop near the bottom takes you through a group of small lakes to vary the up and down routes. You join the main summit slope by an unmanned mountain hut, but this is only erected from the spring to late October. These final slopes are famous for their array of unusual flowers and plants.

S-san at 1,000m at the top of the first stage of the climb, looking back.
The view from NE ridge looking east back into Aizu
Approaching the last slope to Asakusa-dake on the north east route
View south from near the top of the north east flank route

Please note: this is not a guide or a recommendation. Always use your on judgement and take responsibility for your own safety - as with mountains anywhere, Japanese mountains can be dangerous: be prepared and equipped, and  don't underestimate them.


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