KAMURO-SAN (Mt. Kamurosan)

かむろさん 

Hiking Guide to the mountains of Yamagata Prefecture

神室山

KAMURO-SAN

Kamuro-san in the Mogami Region of Yamagata Prefecture

One of the 200 Famous Mountains of Japan, Kamuro-san (not 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, a mountain for Shugendo practice on par with Chokai-san. 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. Both mountains worship the same Omonoimi no Kami.

Chokai-san fell under the jurisdiction of the Yamato Regal Authority by being in the northern extremities. Omonoimi no Kami was regarded as a guardian Kami of the nation who dispelled kegare, or impurities. Since Chokai-san is an active volcano, people thought eruptions were the anger of Omonoimi no Kami. Each eruption meant Omonoimi no Kami went up the ranks of the Kami in Japan.

The Legends and Kami of Kamuro-san

Kamuro-san is worshipped as a kami of water and agriculture. People have climbed it for to pray for a good harvest for centuries. 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. The naturally occurring depression in the mountain is said to be reminiscent of a rice field. As such, people scattered rice and other things here 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, there are 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 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.

The Kamuro Renpo (Kamuro Alps)

The Kamuro Renpo, AKA Michinoku Alps or Tohoku Mini Alps aren't tall compared to other mountain ranges in Japan. However, the sheer amount of snowfall provides an environment for alpine vegetation rare for such low elevation. There are also some very precious birds of prey such as the Golden Eagle (inuwashi) AKA mountain hawk eagle, or Hodgson’s hawk-eagle (kumataka). 

The well-maintained paths also make it a popular destination for mountain climbers. 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. 

Main Trails up Kamuro-san

Ariya Trail (8 hours return)

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. 

Kamasawa Trail (10 hours return)

The Kamasawa trail is the second trail from Kaneyama Town. From the trailhead, walk along the road through the beech forest. 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. As you get higher, the bush turns to grass meaning you can more easily enjoy the views. 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. 

Nishinomatasawa trail (12 hours return)

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. 

Resources

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

KAMURO-SAN

神室山かむろさん 

Mt. Kamurosan, Kamurosan

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.

Mountain Range

Kamuro Mountain Range (Michinoku Alps, Tohoku Mini Alps)

Region

Mogami

Elevation

1365m (4478 ft.)

Technical Demand

B (relatively easy)

Physical Demand

4 (relatively difficult)

Trails

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?

Yes

Minimum Time Required

8 hours minimum

Google Map with trailheads and summit.

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

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