I think the Japanese Alps are one of the most epic, beautiful places I’ve been… If you scroll back a few posts, you’ll see we went there in winter, back when the great Murodo Plateau was covered in meters of snow. Even that time we were overwhelmed by the beauty of this place. We were underprepared for a climb to the highest top, one of Japan’s three Sacred mountains, mount Tateyama. But we vowed we would go back and go to the summit; yesterday we did.
Tateyama is one of Japan’s three sacred mountains, along with mount Fuji and mount Haku. Tateyama is over 3000 meters high, and one of the highest mountain in the Northern Alps. But, to acclimatize a bit to the height (some people experience headaches and nausea when climbing too high), we spent the first day walking around Bijodaira, a huge and ancient cedar forest at a height of about 1000 meters.
The next day we traveled to the Murodo Plateau. These extraordinary beautiful plains are volcanic in nature and therefor covered in circular ponds and here and there you can see sulfur smoke vent from the many crevasses.
This time, the plains weren’t covered in snow, but in the beautiful colors of autumn, a mix of greens, oranges and reds. I think this might be the best time to visit the Japanese Alps!
The entire plains were -above- the clouds that day, which gave it a very mysterious atmosphere.
And so we started our ascent to the summit of mount Tateyama! We could see a lint of tiny climbers on the mountain ridge from afar:
A long, winding path leads to the base of the mountain.
We passed some last patches of snow and I placed a rock on a huge pile for good luck!
From there, the actual rock climbing starts. It’s very exciting, and also a little scary since the rocks are kind of loose and you have to find your own path and be careful not to slip.
Slowly as you ascend, the landscape around you becomes smaller and smaller. It was amazing!!
But, sometimes huge clouds would rapidly pass over the mountain, creating these sudden white surroundings during which you could barely see.
Along the way you pass many small sanctuaries.
We carefully climbed our way all the way to the top, which was very very tiring but with such a spectacular view I didn’t mind ;-)
Then finally we reached the top!! Way up in the clouds!
We then saw a beautiful small temple on top of the mountain, and a monk was standing there waiting! You think he just stands there, every day, the whole day, on top of the mountain?? I think so.
You could see all high peaks around you appearing and disappearing in the clouds. They say on a clear day you can see as far as Mount Fuji.
After enjoying the views for a while, we started heading back down. Aaaaaaall the way back down through the sharp stony maze…
As the sun was slowly setting, the views became even more colorful and spectacular.
In our work, we are always painting and designing landscapes that are original, exciting and give this “I want to go there” feeling. This is exactly such a place. But in this case you can go there for real ;-)
I sometimes slipped down a few meters because the stones were so loose! Also my legs were really tired from the climb up. Along the trail we suddenly saw a sharp rock with a pile of blood on it, and then a big trail down the mountain…. A climber had slipped and hurt his leg while heading down. It was really creepy, so we decided to take it very slowly.
Back down it was another long trail through the colored valley back to base camp.
Ward, which mountain did we climb?
This was a really spectacular trip. The Japanese Alps are an amazing, unique place, and taking the time to hike all the way to the top of mount Tateyama was an amazing experience. Some climbers hike over the mountain ridges, camping high up, and walk all the way to Kamikochi on the other side. It’s a trip we’d love to do someday too, to experience the beauty of the mountains again!