Information about Hōrai (鳳来)
Following my first rock climbing trip to Hōrai (鳳来), find in this article all the useful information to go climbing in that great place.
Hōrai (鳳来) is to my opinion and a lot of Japanese climbers, the best sports climbing crag in Japan. Although there are less routes than in Ogawayama (小川山) its the number of very good and difficult routes (up to 5.14c), that makes Hōrai‘s reputation amongst climbers in the 5.12 grades. It is frequent to find all routes on the same face marked with stars on the topo. For those reasons, the main crags can be packed with hundreds of climbers queuing to climb.
Oniishi (鬼石) is the main popular crag in the area and even when when there’s few people it’s packed ! To the point that you have to put your name on whiteboards and wait your turn to climb. On top of that I personally don’t find the routes that interesting. These are just steep overhangs with high grades routes which are just about strength and endurance. And a lot of climbers are just coming there to try to achieve their 5.12 or 5.13 and are everything but friendly, especially when it’s crowded and that people are getting short tempered of waiting. Knowing that their are so many much more interesting crags around with not just powerful routes but also technical ones, I find this all thing completely ridiculous. Oniishi is worse going but don’t climb there on week-end or national holidays.
On the other side of the dam’s lake, there are a huge and large faces called Jorō-iwa (上臈岩 or 女郎岩) about which the guide book gives zero information except the name and internet very very few. Attracted by it, I went to check it and gather information until I find a partner to go climb there. You’ll find all the information I found (access trail, routes…) in this article.
- Period: mainly in between seasons, April-May and September-October
- Rock: Tuff
- Approch walk : 1h
- Exposition : although most of the crags are facing West, it is possible to always climb in the shadows
- Nomber of routes : 200 including the forbidden areas. Most routes are within 5.11 and 5.12.
For more information check
- the book : Nihon Hyaku Iwaba 4: Tōkai, Kansai (日本100岩場4 東海・関西増補改訂版) – ISBN-13: 978-4635180849.
- on internet :
- the detailed map showing all the crags in the area
- map and general information in Japanese
- topo of the routes of Oniishi (鬼石とその周辺の岩場) and 21st century (21世紀エリア) crags
- topo of the routes of Warm up (ウォームアップ) and Gakkari (がっかり) crags
- topo of the routes of Haikara (ハイカラ岩場) and Kawara (河原エリア) crags
- topo of the routes of Early Morning light wall (アーリーモーニングライト・ウォール) and Manekineko (まねき猫) crags
Touristic area, Hōrai was subject to many problems due to climbers and if we are authorized to climb again the area can be forbidden at anytime depending on our behaviors. In 2000 it was forbidden due to problems of toilets, parking, bivouac, tree cuts generated by climbers. The place is climbable again but some areas are still forbidden.
Be careful to follow the below rules :
- forbidden to bivouac or camp in the woods and do camp fire,
- park on authorized parking (during week-ends and holidays, park at Kotakibashi (小滝橋) to leave Chiiwa (乳岩) parking to tourists who will be there just few hours while we are staying the whole day),
- use toilets,
- respect forbidden areas,
- do not climb forbidden crags : Chiiwa (乳岩), Koyaura (小屋裏) andKage-no-oomono (影の大物)
- do not leave your quickdraws on the rock even if you work on a project for several days in a row.
As mentioned above, it is forbidden to bivouac or camp in the woods or near the crags. There is camping North of the Hōraikō (鳳来湖) lake. You can find on this site some information about the camp site (in Japanese).
There are several hotels, ryōkans, minshuku in the villages and towns when going back to Toyohashi (豊橋), especially near Yuyaonsen (湯谷温泉) or cheaper if you go back to Shinshiro (新城).
Access from Tōkyō
To check train schedules, use the following site (in English) : http://www.hyperdia.com/en/.
It is possible to go by public transport but car is more convenient and will reduce the approach walk.
The best might be to combine shinkansen from Tōkyō (東京) station up to Toyohashi (豊橋) and rent a car from there. If you go by car from Tokyo over the week-end you’ll loose most of your Sunday in traffic jams on the way back. Depending on the train schedule you might have to change shinkansen at Hamamatsu (浜松) station. In any case it takes about 2:15 (with a Kodama shinkansen) and 1:30 (with a Hikari shinkansen) and costs 8190¥ for non-reserved sit and 8700¥ for reserved sit.
If you really want to take only public transportation, you have to take a local train from Toyohashi on the Iida (飯田線) line up to Mikawakawai (三河川合). The main problem is less the extra 30 minutes of approach walk than the lack of mobility and flexibility to go back to your hotel and back to the crag the next day.
The approach walk varied depending on where you park and were you go climbing but counts between 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Check the map link mentioned above for the detailed map of the area showing all the crags..
Check the weather forecast on the English page of the Japan Meteorological Agency : http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html
Other useful numbers in case of emergency
- Shinshiro city police station (新城市警察) au 0536-22-0110
- Aichi prefecture police headquarter (愛知県警察本部) au 052-951-1611