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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

Nature

Mt Ontake 御嶽山

Kiso's sacred volcano filled with spiritual history

Mt. Ontake, one of Japan's most sacred mountains, has drawn worshippers and pilgrims for over a thousand years. It's home to otherworldly landscapes, an ancient pilgrimage trail, and a nature-focused spiritual culture that thrives to this day.

Don't Miss

  • Walking through history on the Ontake Pilgrimage Trail
  • Exploring the summit's volcanic moonscape
  • Mt. Ontake's sacred waterfalls in remote Otaki Village

How to Get There

Kiso-Fukushima Station is the closest main station to the mountain's hiking trail, which is a direct connection from Nagano. Getting to and around the area without a car takes a little planning, so be prepared.

From Nagano Station catch the JR Shinano line to Kiso-Fukushima Station. To get to the hiking trail from Kiso-Fukushima Station take a bus bound for Tanohara to the final stop. Buses run only three times a day.

You can also take the Ontake Ropeway-bound bus and get off at the gondola. From there you can ride the Ropeway's 2,100 meter journey up the mountain.

Quick Facts

At 3,067 meters, Mt. Ontake is Japan's second highest volcano

Due to the 2014 eruption, a one-kilometer area around the crater has been off limits, so check before you visit

You can ski down the slopes of Nagano's highest volcano

Follow the pilgrim's way

Mt. Ontake's sacred roots reach deep into the past. The religion practiced here is a blend of Shinto, esoteric Buddhism, and ancient shamanic lore. Practitioners still come from across Japan to walk the Ontake Pilgrimage Trail to the summit. In the warmer months of July and August, you'll encounter pilgrims in white performing ceremonies at the holy sites along the way.

Ride Kiso's ontake ropeway

While one trail starts at the bottom of the mountain in Kiso, very few walk the whole route today. The easiest way is to take the Ontake Ropeway, which whisks you up to within a couple hours' hike of the summit.

Stay the night

From there you can trek the volcanic moon-like landscape, passing the many shrines, and Mt. Ontake's sacred ponds. Covering the whole summit takes five or six hours, but there are lodges where you can stay during the pilgrimage season.

Otaki's historic trail and sacred falls

The other Ontake Pilgrimage Trail starts in the remote Otaki Village, home to two of the most sacred waterfalls in the region, Kiyotaki and Shintaki Falls. For centuries, pilgrims clad in white have stood below these spectacular cascades for purification before ascending Mt. Ontake.

Step into another world

You can access either of the falls directly, but the hour and a half Ontake Waterfall Trail loop is worth the effort. This takes you through the mountain's beautiful forest lined with shrines and mossy dedications to the divine. The approach to the falls feels like stepping into another realm, especially when the pilgrims are around chanting and conducting their rituals.

Skiing Mt. Ontake

If you're in Kiso during the winter and want to try some sports, Mt. Ontake has two resorts, Ontake 2240 in Otaki Village, and the Kaida Kogen Maia Ski Area. Both are smaller resorts but offer a fun day in the snow. You'll even be able to tell your friends you skied Nagano's highest volcano.