North Alps 'Mountain Glow' Morning Walk in Azumino
Visitors to staying in and around the Azumino and Matsumoto areas in winter have the chance to witness the ‘morning glow’ of the Hida Mountains each morning, as the rising sun reflects off Japan’s highest mountain range. Also known as Japan’s North Alps, the multiple peaks within the range ascend between 2500 to over 3000 metres.
Capped in the white snow of winter, the morning sun radiates off the ridge line, lighting the mountains up in the morning glow that many locals walk up the small Mount Nagamine to watch.While you can enjoy the view of the mountains at anytime of year, the glow only occurs in winter as the sun reflects off the mountain snow and thanks to the clear morning air.
Starting from the Mount Hikarujoyama trailhead and parking, the walk takes around 90 minutes and is a little steep in areas however is suitable for anyone of reasonable fitness. The walk follows the ‘Rising Dragon Sakura’ trail, a popular walking path through forest and underneath hundreds of cherry blossom trees (that bloom in a spectacular display each April). Along the trail you have lots of views of the mountains and pass a rustic Shinto shrine before arriving at the Mount Nagamine viewpoint.
You’ll need to get going early to see it, as sunrise typically occurs around 06:45 to 07:00 The walk-up is enjoyable in its own right but the trail can be affected by snow and ice, so to be safe make sure to take crampons, walking poles, a headlamp and remember to dress warm!
Best: early morning
All year round / best in winter: Dec. to Feb.
Approximately 1.5 hours drive from the Jigokudani Monkey Park
To reach the Hikarujoyama trailhead / parking at that time of day, you will need to drive yourself or use a taxi. For visitors coming from Matsumoto, it takes around 35 to 40-minutes drive to reach the trailhead