Information about Myōgisan (妙義山)
After last week-end hiking to Myōgisan (妙義山), you will find in this post the useful information (access, security, map…) and the Ura-Myōgi (裏妙義山) area.
Mount Myōgi is a group of rocky summits located in the Gunma prefecture (群馬県). The Japanese habit to classify everything also applies to Myōgisan which is ranked among Japan’s three most noted places of rugged beauty, the Nihon-sandai-ichiran (日本三大奇勝). With Akagisan (赤城山) and Harunasan (榛名山) summits are part of the Jōmōsanzan (上毛三山) (literally “the 3 mountains Jōmō“, Jōmō being the old name of Gunma).
If the highest summit, Yakyūsan (谷急山) is only 1,162 meters (3,812 ft) high, the relief is very steep and all the hikes going to any of the summits have some rock scrabling sections, generaly equipped with chains that you have to climb up or down. The group of mountains that makes Myōgisan is devided in between the South part called Omote-Myōgi (表妙義) and the North part called Ura-Myōgi (裏妙義). The South part of Omote-Myōgi itself is devided into two parts. The East part of Hakuunzan (白雲山) and the West part of Kondōzan (金洞山), separated by the Hokkiri (掘切 ou ホッキリ) pass.
main summits of Omote-Myōgi
- Kondōzan, 1,094m (3,589 ft)
- Kinkeizan (金鶏山), 856m (2,808 ft)/li>
- Sōmadake (相馬岳), 1,103m (3,618 ft)
main summits of Ura-Myōgi
- Ontake (御岳), 963m (3,159 ft)
- Chōzu-no-atama (丁須ノ頭), 1,057m (3,467 ft)
- Yakyūsan (谷急山), 1,162m (3,812 ft)
Note that Kinkeizan, as well as Hoshianadake (星穴岳) West of Kondōzan are forbidden.
Altitude being low, hikes douable in a day and the mountains very steep, there are no lodge, not even emergency lodge in the Mount Myōgi area.
But there is a the minshuku of Kokuminshuku-Uramyōgi (国民宿舎 裏妙義) in the valley between Omote-Myōgi and Ura-Myōgi
Tel/Fax: tel: 027-395-2631
Web site: http://park6.wakwak.com/~uramyougi/
Information on other web site: http://www.kokumin-shukusha.or.jp/annai/ken/gunma/210049.html
There is a hot spring close to the Myōgi-jinja temple trail head. Check this page for more information.
Access from Tōkyō
To check train schedules, use the following site (in English) : http://www.hyperdia.com/en/.
It seems there is no more bus from the Jōshinhaiyaa company (上信ハイヤー代替バス) making the link between Matsuida train station to the Myōgi-jinja temple (妙義神社) ; you have to then take a taxi from the closest train station to the trail head.
To go to Myōgisan, you either have to take a shinkansen from Tōkyō or take a local train on the Takasaki line (高崎線) from Ueno station (上野駅) up to Takasaki station (高崎駅) and change there for a local train on the Shinetsuhonsen line (信越本線) to Yokokawa station (横川駅) if you are going to Ura-Myōgi or two stops earlier at Matsuida station (松井田駅) if you are going to Omote-Myōgi. To Yokokawa, it costs about 2268¥ and takes about 2:30 by local train or costs about 4470¥ and takes about 1:30 by shinkansen. It costs and takes just a bit less if you go down at Matsuida.
From Yokokawa station, the easiest option is to walk from the station to the trail head at Chōzu-no-atama. The other two trail heads, Kokuminshuku-Uramyōgi or Namikisawatozanguchi (並木沢登山口) North of Ura-Myōgi will require to take a taxi. It takes about 10 minutes and costs a bit less than 3000¥.
From Matsuida station, take a taxi either to Myōgi-jinja temple (about 10 minutes and a bit less than 3000¥), or to Nakanotake-jinja (中之嶽神社) temple trail head (about 25 minutes and a bit less than 4000¥).
Maps covering Myōgisan and Ura-Myōgisan areas are:
山と高原地図、1:50000、西上州（妙義山・荒船山） Yama-to-Kōgen-chizu, Nishijōshū (Myōgisan/Arafuneyama),
1/25000地形図、南軽井沢、長野7号-1、 NJ-54-36-7-1 (Minami-Karuisawa, Nagano 7-1, NJ-54-36-7-1),
1/25000地形図、松井田、長野3号-3、 NJ-54-36-3-3 (Matsuida, Nagano 3-3, NJ-54-36-3-3)
On the Tomioka city homepage there is a very simple touristic map showing the hikes in Omote-Myōgi that you can download as a PDF file.
Be careful, all the trails heading to or on the ridges passing by any of the Myōgisan summits are not classic hiking course. These itinerary are in between hiking and via ferrata/rock scrambling. Even if I don’t agree, some go as far as saying that it is harder than the Nishi-Hotakadake (西穂高岳) ~ Oku-Hotakadake (奥穂高岳) traverse, considered as the hardest hiking route in Japan’s Northern Alps. Depending on the route you choose you will have many sections of varied length, generally equipped with chains – but not always – requiring up or down climbing. Always check the conditions of the anchors and chains before putting using them. I won’t try to list here all these dangerous sections ; there’s too many of them. If you want to have a rough idea, check the Yama-to-Kōgen-chizu (山と高原地図) of Myōgisan (see references above). On the sections equipped with chains wait in turn. Having several people using the same chain you take the risk to make the other person loose his/her balance and fall when you are moving the chain. Despite all the equipment, several deadly accident have occurred. Depending on your level, the itinerary and conditions (rain, wet and slippery rock…) climbing gears (harness, rope, slings, carabiners…) and techniques (belaying, rappelling…) can be necessary. However, leave your trekking poles at home. Not only you will not get a chance to use them but it can be dangerous to have them on your bag pack or hanging on your wrist when your are climbing/down climbing.
Check the weather forecast on the english page of the Japan Meteorological Agency : http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html
For the latest mountain information, try to
- check the mountain information page of the Gunma prefecture police station (群馬警察本部地域課) website (in Japanese) or call them at 027-243-0110 （extension 3564）
Other useful numbers in case of emergency
- Tomioka city police station (群馬県富岡警察署): 0274-62-0110