The walking courses that start from Murodo Station come in all varieties. From full-on mountain climbing, to courses for beginners and intermediate hikers, you chose a course that fits your level. For this article, I’m going to introduce my recommended course, one that takes about 30min to hour and which you can enjoy even with small children. It’s a beginners course that offers views of two famous mountains from Japan’s top 100 mountains list: Tsurugidake and Tateyama.
The famous Tateyama, viewed from Mikurigaike Lake
This is Mikurigaike Lake, known for its beautiful shining surface. On sunny days with no wind, the mirror-like surface of the lake reflects the Tateyama mountain range, allowing you to enjoy the sight of Tateyama upside down. By the way, you might be wondering, “which mountain is Tateyama?” Tateyama is the general name given for the 3015m Onanjiyama and the 2990m Fujionoritate Mountains, together.
It’s about a 15 minute walk from Murodo Station to get to Mikurigaike Lake. Although the course goes up and down a bit, it’s paved with stones so it’s an easy walking course.
The path from Mikurigaike to Enma Dai
After you’ve enjoyed the view from the bank of Mikurigaike for a little while, if you have enough time and energy, head to Enma Dai, where you can enjoy a sweeping view of Jikoku Dai, or Hell Valley. This is where you can not only feel the breath of the mountains, you can also survey the terrain formed by glacial erosion. Named after it’s discoverer, Yamasaki Cirque is called Yamasaki Karu. Found by Dr. Yamasaki, he proved that Japan also had a glacial period. You can really see how a glacier carved out the shape of the area.
The path from Murodo to Tengudaira
Although it takes about an hour one way, it’s a descending and fairly level path that is aimed at beginners. As you proceed, on your left you can see a large snow valley with snow from the previous year still remaining. Looking in front of you and looking behind you, there are mountains and more mountains. Near the edge of the mountain I yelled for an echo, but perhaps it was too far away as it didn’t echo back.
You can get a time schedule at each station with an illustrated description of the heights and names of the mountains, so pick one up and bring it with you on your walk.
A view of Tsurugidake across the red fall colors of Nanakamado
From Tengudaira you can see one of the hundred top mountains of Japan, the 2999m Tsurugidake. The clouds wouldn’t really go away for this picture. I waited for some 20 minutes from a bench looking out across the Tengudaira grasslands at Tsurugidake, but the mountain never showed it’s face. When clouds are clearing up in the wind and then gallantly reappearing, I really recommend making time to sit and just aimlessly stare at this mountain scenery.
After you have reached Tengudaira, instead of walking back you can save some time and energy by taking a Kogen bus from Tengudaira Station at Tengudaira Sanso Mae. Of course if you’re up for it, I recommend continuing on the walking path to Midagahara, which takes about 2 and a half hours one way.
Lastly, regarding the world at 2,500 meters.
The reason for the Alpine Route’s popularity is that it allows visitors to go through the previously unexplored nature of the northern alps with ease. If you climbed the 2,500 meters yourself, it would be a pretty tough journey. But because you can access the area so easily, you’re likely to forget that you’re at a very high elevation.
The air in the world of 2,500 meters is beautiful, but thin. It’s quite different from lower elevations: the air pressure is so low that water will boil at 92 degrees Celsius. I recommend families with children to be more alert than usual and take your time when walking.
So, that was the beginner walking course. It has few hills and is very doable, allowing you to enjoy the nature and famous mountains of the northern alps. By all means, enjoy the mountain scenery as much as your time and energy allows.
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