Yatsugatake | Nagano Travel Guide
Are you interested in the great outdoors in Japan? Yatsugatake in Nagano is a region that has lots to offer to nature tourists. You can enjoy skiing, trekking, mountain biking, and unique flora and fauna. This travel guide will help you plan your trip to Yatsugatake and Nagano!
Yatsugatake is a mountain range spreading between Nagano and Yamanashi Prefecture. It is not the name of a single mountain but several peaks. Yatsugatake (八ヶ岳) literally means eight peaks, but eight often means “a lot” in the old Japanese language. The total length of the mountain range is about 20 km from the north to the south, and it includes 20 mountains.
Mt. Tateshina (2,530 m) is the northernmost and Mt. Amigasa (2,524 m) is the southernmost. The highest mountain is Mt. Akadake, which is 2,899 meters high. Yatsugatake is selected as one of the top 100 mountains in Japan and most of the area is included in the Yatsugatake Chushin Kogen National Park.
They are volcanic mountains and though they are dormant volcanoes now, they generate hot springs. There are several hot spring resorts around the mountains, so after you visit the mountain area, it is a good idea to stay overnight at a hot spring hotel. There are many hot spring hotels around Lake Suwa.
Flora and Fauna
The deciduous broad-leave forest is spreading at a height below 1,700 meters, and you can find subalpine conifer forest between 1,700 to 2,500 meters. The Siberian dwarf pine zone is over 2,500 meters. There are trees and flowers that are specific to this area which include Yatsugatake in their names. Examples are Yatsugatake spruce, Yatsugatake violet, Yatsugatake buttercup, Yatsugatake dandelion, and Yatsugatake thistle. Also, the area is a treasury of moss, as there are nearly 500 species.
There used to be rock ptarmigan (birds), but they went extinct because of the decrease of dwarf pines and the increase of predator foxes and garbage from climbers.
Four Seasons of Yatsugatake Area
In spring, the mountain is still covered with snow. At the bottom of the mountain, spring flowers such as cherry blossoms start to bloom. So you can see colorful flowers and white snow-covered mountains in unison.
In summer, you can see the bright greenery. It is a good season for trekking in the mountains. You can go up some of the peaks of Yatsugatake relatively easily in this season.
In autumn, you can enjoy colorful autumn leaves. At this time of year, the mountain is covered with red and yellow leaves.
Legend of Yatsugatake
It is said that Yatsugatake was comparable in height to Mt Fuji in ancient times. Because Yatsugatake was higher, Mt. Fuji got angry and kicked Yatsugatake. Then, the mountain top was lost and 8 peaks were made instead. Also, a fraction dropped in the Pacific Ocean, and the Izu Seven Islands were created.
Industry of the Area
The travel industry is one of the largest industries of the area, but most people live off agriculture. They cultivate highland vegetables. Lettuce is the most popular product. They can grow it on the 1,000-meter plateau. Its harvest season is in August.
As direct sunshine damages lettuce after cutting it from the stem, the farmers start working from very early in the morning like 3 am using electric lights. They hire part-time workers during the summertime. It used to be a popular job among university students during the summer holiday, but foreign workers have taken over lately.
Yatsugatake is a mountain range that stretches 20 kilometers, so there are many walking trails. You can enjoy a one-day walk, or climb several peaks taking several days. The most convenient way is to go up to the Sancho Station (山頂駅 2,237 meters) by the gondola called Kita-Yatsugatake Ropeway from Sanroku Station (山麓駅 1,771 meters) taking seven minutes. From the Sky Eye Observation, you can see the mountains of the Japanese Alps.
Then you can enjoy trekking from the gondola station. You can climb up Mt. Shimagare (2,403 m), Kitayokodake (2480 m), or Futagoyama (2,223 m) in several hours. You don’t need any special equipment to walk up to these mountains.
You can enjoy skiing using this gondola in winter.
Access: From Shinjuku in Tokyo, take the express train on Chuo Line to Chino station. It takes about 2 hours. Then take a bus to Kita-Yatsugatake Ropeway for 1 hour.
Gondola fee (round trip): 2,100 yen for adults / 1,050 yen for elementary school students
Hours: From 8 am to 5 pm in summer (shorter operation in other seasons). They stop operation a few weeks in April and November to early December for maintenance.
Fujimi Panorama Resort
There are many viewpoints for the mountain range in the area, but Fujimi Panorama Resort (富士見パノラマリゾート) is one of the best places to enjoy an amazing view of the whole Yatsugatake area. You can go up to the observation deck at a height of 1,780 m by gondola from the bottom station at 1,050 m.
You can walk up to the observation deck, too. When you reach the top, you can see the whole panorama of the Yatsugatake Mountain Range and part of Mt Fuji. You can continue going to the top of Mt. Nyukasa (入笠山), 1955 meters high. About one hour from the gondola station. You can also enjoy mountain biking, paragliding, and snow trekking during winter in the area.
Access: From Shinjuku in Tokyo, take the express train on Chuo Line to Fujimi station. It takes about 2 hours 15 minutes. There is a free shuttle bus from Fujimi station to the resort.
Gondola fee (round-trip): 1,700 yen for adults / 800 yen for elementary school students
Hours: From 8.30 am to 4.30 pm (the schedule changes by the season)
Your Japan Tour
As seasoned Japan experts, we can help you create your perfect Japan tour including guides who can tell you all about Yatsugatake and the surrounding area. Contact us to start planning your unforgettable holiday to this fascinating country. Japan is full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, culture, history, nature, and delicious food!