The mention of Nagoya conjures up images of the iconic castle as well as Atsuta Jingu, one of Japan’s most significant Shinto shrines. But did you know the capital of Aichi prefecture also serves as an excellent base for hiking? Whether you’re a beginner or looking for a challenge, this mini guide has got you covered. Clamber up!
The one with spectacular views all year round
Mt Gozaisho (Suzuka Mountains)
At 1,212m, Mt Gozaisho is one of the tallest peaks in the Suzuka Mountains range, and is located about an hour outside of Nagoya. The two- to three-hour hike to the summit is easy even for beginners, though you do need to be relatively fit as parts of the trail require the use of climbing aids including ladders, ropes and chains. From the fiery foliage in autumn to snow-covered peaks in winter, Mt Gozaisho promises a different visual spectacle every season — which is why you are likely to meet return hikers. Not so keen on the descent? Lucky for you, you can opt to return to the foot of the mountain via Japan’s longest cable car ride. Your luck doesn’t end there; the cable car takes you to Yunoyama Onsen — a relaxing hot spring, anyone?
How to get there: From Nagoya station, take the Kintetsu Limited Express train to Kintetsu-Yokkaichi station. Change to the Kintetsu Yunoyama line and alight at Yunoyama Onsen terminal.
The one for beginners
Mt Ena (Kiso Mountains)
Mt Ena is a relatively easier climb compared to Mt Gozaisho, though the latter is more popular due to the ready option of a cable car ride that takes you to the bustling summit. But what Mt Ena lacks in accessibility for non-hikers, it more than makes up for in its unbeatable views at various points of the trail. The approximately four-hour climb to the summit starts at the parking lot at Misakatouge. From there, it’s an easy 90-minute trek to the first peak where you can spend some time marveling at the panoramic views of the surrounding Japanese Alps. After taking in the sights, continue your hike for another two hours or so to arrive at the Ena ridgeline before the trail becomes mercifully flat. Keep walking for about 30 minutes to reach the summit.
Tip: Along the last 30-minute trek you will pass by a hut. While the true summit of Mt Ena is another 10 minutes past the hut, you actually won’t be able to see much from the summit; instead, climb the rock behind the hut, and you will be rewarded with unparalleled views of the Minami Alps and Mt Fuji.
How to get there: From Nagoya station, take the JR Limited Express Shinano train to Nakatsugawa station. From this station, the only way to get to Misakatouge is by taxi.
One to give you buns of steel
Mt Fujiwara (Suzuka Mountains)
Blessed with a karst plateau and rolling green carpets dotted with stunning alpine wildflowers, Mt Fujiwara is, in a word, phenomenal. You know what else is phenomenal? The five- to seven-hour hike to the summit. With an elevation change of 1,000m, it’s pretty much non-stop climbing from start to finish. Thankfully you can look forward to 10 stage points throughout the hike to help you with your pacing and, more importantly, give yourself and your body a short break before continuing your trudge through the dense cedar forest. But while this hike is no walk in the park, the surreal unobstructed views surrounding you at the summit will stay with you for a long time to come.
How to get there: From Nagoya station, take the Kintetsu Limited Express train to Kintetsu-Tomida station. Change to the Sangi Railway line and alight at Nishi-Fujiwara. From this station, it’s just a short walk to the start of the trail, which begins after you walk through a torii gate.