Kamuro-san in the Mogami Region of Yamagata Prefecture
Kamuro-san in the Mogami Region of Yamagata Prefecture
神室山 | かむろさん
Kamuro-san (神室山かむろさん, not to be confused with Kamurodake) is a 1365m (4478 ft.) peak in the Mogami region of Yamagata prefecture. Kamurosan is best climbed from June to October. Kamuro-san is a level 4 in terms of physical demand, which means it is relatively hard to hike, has a B technical grade, which means it doesn’t require too much expertise, and you want to allow at least 8 hours for a climb.
Kamuro Mountain Range (Michinoku Alps, Tohoku Mini Alps)
1365m (4478 ft.)
B (relatively easy)
4 (relatively difficult)
Three) 1) Ariya Trail (8 hours return), 2) Kamasawa Trail (10 hours return) 3) Nishinomatasawa Trail (12 hours return)
Best time to climb
June to October
Day trip possible?
Minimum Time Required
8 hours minimum
One of the 200 Famous Mountains of Japan, Kamuro-san (not to be confused with Kamuro-dake) is the main peak on the Kamuro mountain range along the border of Akita and Yamagata Prefectures.
Kamuro-san has a history as a Mountain worship peak, and was known as a mountain for the practice of Shugendo on par with Chokai-zan. According to legend, Heian period general and Shogun Sakanoue no Tamuramaro founded the mountains for spiritual practice. Kamuro-san’s connection with the tallest peak entirely in Tohoku, the nearby Chokai-zan, is very strong, and both worship the same Omonoimi no Kami.
Chokai-zan fell under the jurisdiction of the Yamato Regal Authority by being in the northern extremities, and Omonoimi no Kami was regarded as a guardian Kami of the nation who dispelled kegare, or impurities. Since Chokai-zan is an active volcano, its eruption was seen to be the anger of Omonoimi no Kami, and each eruption meant it went up the ranks of the Kami in Japan.
Kamuro-san has been revered as a kami of water and agriculture, and people were known to climb it in prayer for a good harvest. There are stone memorials at the summit dedicated to Kamuro Gongen (avatar), Raijin (the Kami of thunder), the Ota Kami, and the Kami of water, and the naturally occurring depression in the mountain is said to be reminiscent of a rice field. As such, there are many remains where rice and other things were scattered to pray for a good harvest during rice planting season.
There are also other legends such as the one where Kamuro-san is home to a Tengu. In the villages along the base of Kamuro-san are the remains of what appears to be many Shukubo pilgrim’s lodges that hosted visitors to the peak. For example, Yamazakiwarabo in Kaneyama Town is one such location. In addition, there is a temple in Kaneyama that is named after mountain worship on Kamuro-san. The Shugendo faith on Kamuro-san has since been abandoned, however the mountain remains an object of faith for the people of the surrounding towns and villages.
Also known as the ‘Michinoku Alps’ (Michinoku is the former collective name of the provinces of Dewa and Mutsu), or the ‘Tohoku Mini Alps’, the Kamuro Renpo (alps) isn’t especially tall compared to other mountain ranges, but the sheer amount of snow means there is a large number of alpine vegetation that is rare for such low elevation. There are also some very precious birds of prey that live in the area such as the Golden Eagle (inuwashi) and mountain hawk eagle or Hodgson’s hawk-eagle (kumataka).
The well-maintained paths also make it a popular destination for mountain climbers, and the stretch south from the summit of Kamuro-san to Mokuzo-yama is more than 25km. After Kamuro-san, the mountains heading south in the Kamuro Mountain Range (on the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata List) are Komata-yama (1,366), Hiuchi-dake (1,237), Hachimori-yama (1,098m), and Mokuzo-yama (1,026m). Kamewari-yama (594m) is also nearby. All of these mountains (except Kamewari-yama) are part of the Kurikoma Quasi-National Park.
Since there are many narrow trails along the Kamuro Mountain Range, take care of sudden strong winds and slipping.
The Ariya trail is one of two trails from Kaneyama Town up Kamuro-san. The trailhead is upstream of the Kamuro Dam on the Kaneyama River side. The first half of the trail is gradual and goes along the river, but the second half up to the Kamuro ridge is very steep. Once you meet the path along the ridge, a right turn will take you to the summit. Along the way you will meet with the Nishinomatasawa Trail from Akita Prefecture. From there the trail is quite precarious with steep drops either side so due care must be taken. There is an emergency hut at the summit with a water source and toilets.
There is a bus from the Kaneyama Town Hall to Shimomukai, from where the trailhead is 4km away.
The Kamasawa trail is the second trail from Kaneyama Town. From the trailhead, walk along the road through the beech forest and about an hour in the trail will become very steep. At the top of the steep part is a path along the Daisen ridge. This part of the trail is relatively flat, and as you get higher, the bush turns to grass meaning you can more easily enjoy views of the Kamuro Mountain Range. Once past the final steep part you will find yourself at the summit.
There is a bus from the Kaneyama Town Hall to Kamasawa, from where the trailhead is 3km away.
The Nishinomatasawa trail is the main trail up Kamuro-san from Mogami Town. Cross the Nishinomatasawa stream at the edge of the forest road and you will come across the trailhead. After some steep hairpin turns there is a ridge with huge beech trees along it. Taking the peak to the west, you will come across Komata-yama, one of the Kamuro Mountain Range peaks. Head north from Komata-yama and once you pass through the Tengu forest you will arrive at the summit.
When the snow is still melting in spring, or when there has been torrential rain, the Nishinomatasawa stream becomes difficult to cross. You MUST check the conditions before making a plan for your climb.
Yamagatayama Website: https://yamagatayama.com/hyakumeizan/no-028/
Wikipedia (Japanese): https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%A5%9E%E5%AE%A4%E5%B1%B1
Omonoimi no Kami (Japanese): https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%A4%A7%E7%89%A9%E5%BF%8C%E7%A5%9E
100 Famous Mountains of Tohoku, 100 Mountains of Yamagata, Akita Prefecture, Autumn Leaves, Birds of prey, Buddhist Temples and Shinto Shrines, Day Hikes, Forest Bathing, Hard to reach, Historical Hikes, Kamuro Mountain Range (Kamuro Alps), Kaneyama Town, Mogami Region, Mogami Town, Mountain Flowers, Mountain Previews, Mountains above 1000m, Myths and Legends, Nihyakumeizan 200 Famous Mountains of Japan, Shugendo Mountains, yamabushi
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About the author
TIM BUNTING – KIWI YAMABUSHI
OFFICIAL DEWA SANZAN YAMABUSHI NAME:
RYOSEN – SPREADER OF TRUTH
Hi, I'm Tim Bunting AKA the Kiwi Yamabushi, a New Zealander who became a Yamabushi Ascetic in the Dewa Sanzan mountains of north Japan. I'm part of the Yamabushido team, and we host life-altering Yamabushi training on the Dewa Sanzan (website I made). People come to us for the ultimate mindfulness experience, to reach the next level, or simply connect with nature and themselves.
I'm on a mission to summit all 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata Prefecture to spread the splendour of this fabulous location, and in dedication to all those who lost their lives out in nature, including my father.
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