Hiking on Murodou-Taira

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Hiking on Murodou-Taira Highland in Mt. Tateyama- By  Mr. Ito, a Nagoya International Center Volunteer

I went on a hiking trip with a friend of mine to Murodou-taira Highland at Mt.Tateyama – located in Toyama Prefecture. This is the travel report. A bus which took us up started JR Nagoya Station for Mt. Tateyama at 7:00 am on August 1.

The bus rode on the Tokai-Hokuriku Express Highway which had just become completely available for use the previous month.

The bus came to Gujou-Hachiman Interchange, a town very popular for the Bon Festival Dance during summertime, especially during the O-Bon holidays. In the olden days, the Bon Festival Dance was performed all night long. Many tourists came from various locations around Japan to join in the Bon Festival Dance. The bus went on running northward along the Express way passing over Gujou-hachiman IC and passed through a tunnel which was just completed the previous month. Completion of the tunnel enabled the Tokai-Hokuriku Express way to become open the whole way. The tunnel is called Hida tunnel, 10.5Km long, making it the second longest tunnel in Japan.

Shirakawa-go Interchange is located at a gateway of the Hida tunnel. Shirakawa-go is very famous the town full of traditionally built houses called “Gassho-tsukuri” (a house with a steep rafter roof) which have been preserved in good condition and designated as a World Heritage Site. The area is surrounded by high mountains and gets more than 4 meters of snow in winter. It is said that the “Gassho-tsukuri “ houses were developed under such harsh conditions.

Gokayama village Interchange is next to the Shirakawa-go Interchange. Gokayama village is located at the border between Gifu and Toyama prefectures and belongs to Toyama prefecture. Along with Shirakawa-go, Gokayama village is also designated a World Heritage site.

The Tokai-Hokuriku Express way connects with the Hokuriku Express way at Tonami City, Toyama Prefecture and ends there. The bus ran on along the Hokuriku Expressway to Tateyama-cho Interchange.

Running on southward for about a half hour, the bus came to at the bottom of Mt. Tateyama. We could see the beautiful Shomyo-no-taki waterfall from the bus window. Shomyo-no-taki-waterfall reminds me of my high school days. When I was a 1st year high school student, I took a part in a mountain climbing trip with two teachers and six students. Our party began to climb from the bottom of Mt. Tateyama along Shomyo-no-taki waterfall and passed through Murodo-taira highland to cross a suspension bridge over the Kurobe River. Our party took four days, traversing from Shomyo-no-taki waterfall to JR Omachi Station in Nagano Prefecture passing through Murodou-taira, Harinoki Mountain path, and Ogisawa on the way.


The bus arrived at Murodou-taira at almost noon. It took almost 5 hours from Nagoya. A bus guide give out a map showing walking routes. There were three walking routes which we could take around the Murodou-taira area, a 1 hour course, a 1.5 hour course, or a 2.5 hour course. We chose the 2.5 hour course.

We started from the Tateyama stone monument  – a block of stone with “立山” written on the face. Over the back of the monument there were three tall peaks of which the tallest is 3,015 meters high. Mt. Tateyama is the general name given to these three peaks.

Soon we came to Mikuriga-ike Pond. The pond was filled with clear blue water and surrounded by pine bushes and the remnants of the winter snow. Mt. Tateyama in the background made the scenery very beautiful. Walking around this area reminded me of my high school days, I thought that Heaven was like such a place.

Going on the stone-paved walkway, we came to where some red-colored waterholes like blood were scattered about in a marshy place. This place is called “Chi-no-Ike“ – the blood ponds. It is said that the water is red colored because it contains ferric oxide. Passing through Chi-no-Ike Pond, we saw an area called Raicho-sawa, where a lot of tents were set up on the mid-slope of the mountain.

The sulfurous smell became strong while on the walkway and we saw white vapor rising upward ahead of us. Going on for a while, we came to a place called  “Jigokudani”.  – the geothermal heat causes large bubbles to form on the surface of the water. A wooden guidepost saying 地獄谷 (jigokudani) was set up at the side of the walkway. Jigokudani means “hell valley” in Japanese. We were very lucky to be able to visit both worlds of heaven and hell during our short hike.

On the way going up the walkway from the Jigokudani, we had to walk along a walkway covered with snow for a while. We had a nice experience of walking along a snowy path on a midsummer’s day.

After passing over the snowy path, we came to a field where the walkway was covered with bushes of creeping pines on both sides.  We could watch a ptarmigan among the bushes of the creeping pines. The ptarmigan is designated a precious natural object in Japan. Ptarmigan are rarely seen because they make their habitat in the higher mountains of Japan.

We came back to the bus terminal and left Murodo-taira highland at 3:00 pm for Nagoya.

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Various travel agencies offer low-price day trip hiking tours to Mt. Tateyama (日帰りハイキング ツアー) from Nagoya. Tours are available between June and October only.

Contact the Nagoya International Center 3F Information Counter (Tel: 052-581-0100) for information about English-friendly travel agents in Nagoya.

To learn more about the Nagoya International Center,
please watch our video.

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