Hike Across the 'Roof of Japan' on the Northern Japan Alps Mountain Trail from Azumino

Hike Across the 'Roof of Japan' on the Northern Japan Alps Mountain Trail from Azumino

The Northern Japan Alps, also known as the “roof of Japan,” is one of the most popular hiking and mountaineering destinations in Japan and Azumino serves as the gateway. The peaks range from 2,000 to just over 3,000 meters (6500 to 9800 feet) and trails feature breathtaking panoramic views, rare wildlife, and unforgettable experiences.


The so-called “Panoramic Ginza” is Azumino’s most beloved trail as it offers hikers the unique chance to traverse several of Japan’s most famous mountains such as Mt. Jonen without the need to climb up and down deep cols. There aren’t many other trails in the world that let you hike across a series of summits in such a way. Panoramic Ginza got its name from the stunning vistas of the Azumino and Matsumoto valley and other nearby mountains.

Another one of the most famous—and challenging—climbs is the spear-shaped peak of Mt. Yari, which is accessible from the Panoramic Ginza via the Omote Ginza trail or by going through Kamikochi. Overall, you’ll find trails in range of difficulty levels but, in general, plan on a few hours of trekking with at least a one night stay in one of the many huts and lodges spread out across the range. One thing is for sure: you will have an experience like none other!


Recommended season: Late July to Late September

About 3 hours

To Hotaka Station in Azumino: From Nagano station, take JR Shinonoi Line to Akashina Station. You can get taxi or bus to the Hotaka Station area from there (bus runs seasonally, so be sure to check the schedule). It takes longer but you can also get to Hotaka Station directly by train via Matsumoto: Take the JR Shinonoi or Wide View Shinano to Matsumoto, then transfer to the JR Oito Line and take the train to Hotaka Station. To get to the Nakabusa Onsen trailhead below Mt. Tsubakuro, take the local Nakabusa Onsen bus from Hotaka Station or use a taxi.


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