Tohoku’s Matterhorn: IWAIGAME-YAMA

いわいがめやま 

Hiking Guide to the mountains of Yamagata Prefecture

祝瓶山

IWAIGAME-YAMA

Mountain at the southern edge of the Asahi Renpo said to resemble The Matterhorn.

Iwaigame-yama is a mountain sitting at the southern edge of the Asahi Renpo in Nagai City and Oguni Town. Its pyramidal shape has led it to being named ‘Tohoku’s Matterhorn’. In the vicinity there are vast forests of enormous beech trees with a flourishing forest ecosystem.

Iwaigame Sanso Trail (3.5 to 4.5 hours one-way)

The Iwaigame Sanso Trail starts at the Iwaigame Sanso Mountain lodge in Nagai City. Heading north from the Kijiyama Dam there is a mountain hut accessible by car. From this hut, head further north over a small river and through the beech forest. You will arrive at the Kuwasumidaira Junction. A left turn here is the shorter trail that will take you to a ridge. From here, the trail gets tough. After continuing on this ridge for quite some time, there is the final hurdle; a sharp incline of about 100m. Once up here, you’re at the summit.

Going straight at the Kuwasumidaira Junction takes you to the trail along the Akahana ridge. After following along the mountain stream for a while, you will come out where the Akahana ridge gets really steep. Take a left at the top of this section. A right at the Akahana Junction will take you on a traverse to Oasahi-dake via Otama-yama, Kitaotama-yama, and Hiraiwa-yama.

After taking a left at the Akahana junction, you go along a thin ridge until there is yet another junction. A right here will take you towards Gomisawa part of Oguni Town. A left will take you to the summit of Iwaigame-yama.

Notes on the Iwaigame Sanso Trail

The Iwaigame Sanso mountain hut is privately owned. If you’d like to make use of it, contact the Nagai Sangakukai (Nagai Alpine Club).

There is a chance of the forest road past the Kijiyama Dam becoming impassable after natural disasters etc. Contact the authorities for the latest updates and plan your hike accordingly.

Parts of the access road to the trailhead are unpaved. 4WDs with a high clearance should be fine, but take care as normal cars with 2WD might not be. Watch out for oncoming vehicles too.

390 m in front of the trailhead there is an unpaved car parking area for about 9 vehicles. There is a public toilet here in a concrete building too.

Rinfuri O'ne (ridge) Trail (3.5 hours one-way)

The Rinfuri Ridge Trail utilises the Hannaridaira Trailhead of Oguni Town.

Access is on an unpaved road. There are potholes along this road, but normal cars should be fine. About 6 cars can park at the trailhead, or about 5 cars 110 m in front of the trailhead.

There is a public toilet behind where you submit your hiking plans at the carpark.

IWAIGAME-YAMA

祝瓶山いわいがめやま 

Tohoku's Matterhorn, Mt. Iwaigame, Mt. Iwaigame-yama, Mt. Iwaigameyama, Iwaigame, Iwaigameyama

Iwaigame-yama (祝瓶山いわいがめやま) is a 1417m (4648 ft.) peak in the Murayama region of Yamagata prefecture best climbed from June to October. Iwaigame-yama is a level 3 in terms of physical demand, which means it is moderate to hike, has a B technical grade, which means it doesn't require too much expertise, and you want to allow at least 7 hours for a hike.

Mountain Range

Asahi Renpo

Region

Okitama

Elevation

1417m (4648 ft.)

Technical Demand

B (requires some expertise)

Physical Demand

3 (moderate hike)

Trails

Two: 1) Iwaigame Sanso Trail (3.5 to 4.5 hours one-way), 2) Rinfuri O'ne Trail (3.5 hours one-way)

Best time to climb

June to October

Day trip possible?

Yes

Minimum Time Required

7 hours on either the Iwaigame Sanso or Rinfuri O'ne (ridge) Trail

Google Map with trailheads and summit.

PDF Maps by TheHokkaidoCartographer and JapanWilds.org. See all here.

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