Mt. Tsurugi 剣山
Worshipped as a god, Shikoku's second highest peak is a verdant mountain offering a gentle ascent
This iconic peak in the heart of Tokushima is ranked among Japan's 100 Famous Mountains, and is popular for both short trips to the summit as well as longer, more undulating ridge hikes to neighboring mountains.
Mt. Tsurugi, meaning "sword mountain," is the second highest mountain in western Japan
The mountain is an important center for Shugendo ascetics
How to Get There
From major cities on the main island of Honshu, numerous express buses depart for Tokushima Station. Once in Tokushima, the easiest way to access Mt. Tsurugi is to rent a car, as public transport options are few.
If you do decide to take public transport, you can take a bus from Awa Ikeda Station to Kubo, then transfer to another bus bound for Mi-no-Koshi and get off at the final bus stop near the lower chairlift station. Note that the bus only operates on the weekends and holidays between April and November.
Shikoku's popular hike
A spiritual pilgrimage site
The gently sloping shape of the mountain's summit, which resembles the curvature of a traditional sword, is the origin of the name of the mountain which literally means “sword mountain” in Japanese. The mountain is an important center for practitioners of Shugendo, an esoteric Japanese religion that draws on both Shintoism and Buddhism with an emphasis on mountain worship. You may hear the echoing of a conch shell being blown by a practitioner.
The mountain opens to climbers in April, but if hiking is not your cup of tea, a ride on a single-seat chairlift will whisk you to a spot just a 30-minute walk away from the summit. Once there you will encounter a shrine and mountain huts, and if you are lucky enough to be visiting on a clear day, views open out to the Pacific Ocean, Seto Inland Sea and as far away as the Kii Peninsula on the main island of Honshu.
Exploring the peaks of Tokushima
If you are not satisfied climbing to the summit of Mt. Tsurugi alone, you can continue along the ridge trails out to neighboring peaks including Jirogyu, Miune, and Tenguzuka.
On to the Iya Valley
Tsurugi lies at the eastern end of the lovely and remote Iya Valley , and it is well worth combining a visit here to enjoy its hot springs, scenery, and rustic vine bridges.