The Tohoku region (North-Eastern Japan) is the dream destination for hiking lovers. The calm, the untouched nature, the mountains, the ancient shrines scattered across the forests... There are so many wonders waiting for adventurers in Yamagata Prefecture.
Not to be outdone, Tsuruoka City has many trekking trails with several difficulty levels that will satisfy any hiker. Have a look at our trails:
May - October
This pilgrimage path is 34km. long! You'll need 3 days to walk it all! So we recommend to divide your hiking experience in several parts. Ask our local guides what's the best itinerary for you.
July 1st - Late October
It usually takes up to 4 hours to get to the top, and 3 hours to get down for beginner climbers. Advanced climbers can reach the top within 2.5 hours and go back within 1.5 hours, but we recommend you to plan a whole day to climb Gassan.
Mt. Haguro's stairway
Hagurosan Ishidan 羽黒山石段
May - Early December
Even though the whole climbing experience is tough, small children and seniors often do the trip to the top! Count around 1 hour (1 hour and 45 min. if you want to take your time) to go up, and 45 min. (1h10) to go down.
Snow Trekking in Mt. Haguro
December - March
Put on your snowshoes and let your guide show you landscapes very few people can see.
Mt. Haguro's Pagoda
Hagurosan Gojunoto 羽黒山五重塔
All year round
The famous five-story pagoda of Mt. Haguro, a National Treasure. You can see it all year around. Watch your steps in case of rain or snow, it can get pretty slippery!
The Pilgrimage to Mt. Kinbō
Kinbōzan no sandō 金峯山の山道
All year round
Mt. Kinbō is another sacred place of the shugendō religion in Tsuruoka. It is easy to hike when temperatures are still fresh during spring, but it is still hikeable throughout the summer despite the heat. In winter, you will need to put on your snow shoes and follow the steps of a local guide to move safely through the snow-capped forest.
Take part in our guided hikes
Guided Rokujurigoekaido hiking tour
Guided snowshoe trekking
Guided Yamabushi tours
Beware of the bears!
When you take a stroll in the mountains of Japan's forests, you need to be cautious about the Japanese black bear. Though they are not aggressive by nature and normally fear humans, they will attack if they are surprised. To let them know about your presence, we highly recommend you to attach a bear bell to your gear when walking inside a forest. The sound of the bell will alert the bears of your presence, letting them know they better back off, thus avoiding the risk of an attack caused by surprise. You can also sing, laugh, talk loudly to make sure the bears hear you.
If you happen to encounter a bear, always face him. Slowly step back, don't scream, don't run.
Even if it's true baby bears are the cutest things ever, NEVER touch a cub or come close to them. Momma bear is never very far, and she is extremely aggressive.
You can also buy a "bear pepper spray" in Japanese drugstores; it will give you enough time to escape.