Having fun climbing the snowy Matterhorn of Kansai, “Mt. Takami”!
Long time no see, it’s me, Meg. What have you all been up to in this cold weather?
I’d love to live the life of a bum, watching Netflix every day and having my food, my toilet and my bath all within a meter of me. However, even someone as lazy as me can have days in the winter where I just feel like being active.
Today I’m going to show you “Mt. Takami,” an icy world that you can only find by climbing a mountain. What’s more, I climbed the mountain with friends who have come all the way from Taiwan and the Philippines.
Were you just thinking “Well I don’t have a car, so I can’t go there”? Well that’s not the case! Let me tell you haw to get there without a car.
What is Mt. Takami anyway?
This is Mt. Takami, which sits in between Higashiyoshino Village in Nara Prefecture and Matsusaka City in Mie Prefecture. It is 1,248.4 m tall, and is known as the Matterhorn of Kansai. It is famous for being a snowy mountain where “rime ice,” frost that forms on all kinds of surfaces, can be seen. Sounds like the sort of hardcore mountain which can only be climbed by professional climbers using ice axes, right?
However, it seems this the mountain isn’t as dangerous as it sounds, we saw everyone from children to elderly people climbing for two days straight. How brave... Struck by such bravery, I was forced to reflect on my own laziness.
Here’s a list of everything I brought with me on my climb. I’m sure a professional climber probably would have a much longer list, but this was enough for me this time.
- Crampons (necessary if you don’t want to slip and fall)
- Climbing shoes (melted snow can get into your shoes, so make sure they’re waterproof)
- Waterproof clothing (I wore nylon outerwear)
- Uniqlo Heattech inner wear (thermal inner wear)
- Normal tights
- Thick socks
- Thick turtleneck sweater
- Wool hat and gloves
- Disposable heat packs (I recommend adhesive types)
- Long-sleeved t-shirt
- A canteen filled with hot water
- Your favorite snacks
- Cup Noodles
- Boxed lunch
- Towel (take with you if you want to go in the onsen, hot spring)
- Plastic bag (for your dirty crampons until you can find a place to wash them)
- Another towel (crampons can rust, so it’s good to wipe them down after washing them)
If you’re very worried about the cold, you can of course bring some extra warm clothes. Will this climb be possible for someone like me, a person with no reflexes and a whole lot of holiday weight...?!?!
To Mt. Takami by train and shuttle bus!
First, we had to get to the Kintetsu “Haibara station” in Nara. This is about an hour away from the Kintetsu Namba station in Osaka. There’s also a direct express train from the Kintetsu Namba station that takes only 44 minutes!
Next, we left Haibara station from the “South Exit,” and waited for the bus to Mt. Takami. The bus to the trailhead, “Takami Tozanguchi (高見登山口)” costs 1,080 yen. (adult, one way, cash only)
There are three points I think you need to keep in mind:
- The bus pick-up (which costs money) only runs on weekends and holidays. If you come on a weekday, you’ll be out of luck.
- There are only two buses a day going each way, so make sure you don’t miss the last bus.
- If you decide halfway up the mountain that you want to give up and go back, there aren’t any buses going back to Haibara station from the “Takami Tozanguchi” bus stop, so the best option is to carry on to the “Takasumi Onsen Mae (たかすみ温泉前)” bus stop, the final destination!
Also, if the weather is good, the sun may melt the snow. So I recommend getting there as early as possible if you want to see the rime ice.
Note: I’ve added a bus timetable at the end of this article.
If you’re not that bothered about when you get back, I also recommend checking out Takasumi Onsen, the hot spring. The inbath massages are great for preventing any soreness the day after such a big climb.
※Note: Due to a malfunction, the onsen was closed on February 2, 2020, the day we got there...!
The summit is reachable if you climb slowly
After an hour of being shaken by the bus, the sight of toilets at the final bus stop was a real relief (there was no toilet paper, so you need to bring your own tissues). After our toilet break, we found the footpath right by the bus stop so we started our climb.
Don’t worry if you can’t find the path yourself, just follow the other people from the bus. The climb starts off easy, with a lovely walk through a forest. The path here is quite wide, so there’s plenty of space to chat and snack with your friends and have a good time. It felt like a spring picnic, to be honest.
This is my second time climbing Mt. Takami. After the first time, the lessons I learned were “It’s fine to go at your own pace” and “Don’t hurt yourself, take rests whenever you need one.” Thanks to those lessons, I was able to climb the mountain without getting over tired.
If you like, resting in a hammock is totally doable. After passing through a torii gate, the trail forks into two paths––the steep route and the Takami pass route, so we took the opportunity to have a light lunch there.
We tried the steep route
The steep route is slightly harder but quicker short cut. The Takami pass route is easier, but does take longer.
The weather was really nice on the day we were there. I was really worried that the snow would melt and my friends who came from so far away wouldn’t get to see the wonderful rime ice! So we chose the steep route. (the blue lines are the main route, the red line is the steep route)
The slope was steep, as you’d expect with a name like that, and it was only just wide enough for one person at a time. However, by going at my own pace––slowly, I was able to climb this slope and feel quite athletic while doing it. At the top of the steep route you find a sign sayin “杉谷・平野分岐 Sugitani/Hirano pass)”, which points to the way down.
We were nearly at the summit!
The frost was like something out of a movie
As we approached the summit, we were immersed into a snowscape that felt like it was straight out of the movies. (obviously without CG)
If you’re wondering why the ice formed all sideways like this, it’s because the wind is so strong, the rime ice forms horizontally.
So instagrammable. Your desire for recognition will be surely fulfilled.
The weather was kind to us on this day, the wind wasn’t too bad which made the vistas even more beautiful. I’m so glad that my international friends got so lucky on their first visit here (thank goodness)
The path ends at “Takasumi Onsen Mae”, where you can catch a bus back to Haibara station for 1,120 yen. We took it pretty easily this time, so in all the trip took us about 6 and a half hours!
This ended up being an incredible little trip. I can’t wait to do it again next year.
Anyway, I should really get home and warm myself up...