SHIRATAKA-YAMA (Mt. Shirataka)


Hiking Guide to the mountains of Yamagata Prefecture



Mountain with a long history of worship from feudal lords and one of Japan's most famous Daikokuzoson Buddhist statues.

Tallest peak along the Shirataka Hills, Shirataka-yama is the pride of Yamagata, Kaminoyama, and Nanyo Cities, as well as Shirataka and Yamanobe Towns. At the summit you will find Fukuman Daikokuzoson, one of Japan’s top five Daikokuzoson statues of Buddha. As such, Shirataka-yama is a mountain of worship representative of the area.

Located at the north-eastern entrance to the former Yonezawa Domain, the history of worship at Shirataka-yama by Daimyo of the domain runs deep. For example, the 9th Daimyo of the Yonezawa Domain, the famous Uesugi Harunori (上杉 治憲, September 9, 1751 – April 2, 1822), used the pen name Yozan featuring the exact same Kanji as Shirataka.

Every year on May 13 at an event called Takaiyama, each trailhead becomes packed with tons of hikers aiming to reach the summit. As a symbol of Yamagata Kenmin no Mori (forests for citizens of Yamagata Prefecture), Shirataka-yama is renowned for its trails all throughout the year. The summit of Shirataka-yama is very open, and there is a public toilet there. On fine days, you can even see all the way out to Chokai-san.

Nakayama Trail (90 minutes one-way)

The Nakayama trailhead is located at the Shirataka Choei Ski field. Early in the hiking season bunches of Mizubasho (asian skunk cabbages) sprout up along the Nakayama trail. The trail is relatively flat, however it gets steeper towards the summit.

Use the Choei Ski Field car park. There are 10 car parks 200 m from the trailhead. There is a public toilet in the Ski Centre available when it is open.

Hosono / Ogino Trailhead (1 hour 40 each way)

The Hosono Trailhead starts along the forest road once past the Hosono hamlet. Go through the cedar forest and the trail meets with Ogino Trailhead (from Ogino hamlet). Once you reach a peak there will be huge cedars, and the still intact main approach to the shrine. On the right hand side you can see a beech forest as you head towards the summit.

There is room for four cars on the unsealed road about 250 m from the trailhead. There are no public toilets on the Hosono Trailhead.

Omotesando Trailhead (20 minutes one-way)

The Omotesando Trailhead is the shortest trail to the summit that uses the stone stairway. Traditionally for visits to the Fukuman Daikokuzoson statue of Buddha, the stone stairway has been here since ancient times. Take note, however, it is very steep and very slippery.

Odaira / Shirataka-yama Kogen Bokujo Trailhead (1 hour one-way)

This trail has both flat and steep parts that take you through cedar and other forests. The trail evens out for a bit where it meets the Shirataka-yama Kogen Bokujo trail. After that there are steep stone steps to navigate before reaching the summit.

Takehara Trailhead (50 minutes one-way)

The Takehara Trailhead begins at the red Torii gates. After a short while you will enter a glorious forest of magnificent cedar trees that were planted in memory of Emperor Showa’s marriage.

Partway along the trail there is a spot for getting water that is a great place for a break. Depending on the season, you can also see snow-covered camellia and hydrangea. Soon after the steep section you will reach the summit.

There is an unsealed car park near the Torii gates for about 10 vehicles. There is also a toilet near the trailhead.



Mt. Shirataka, Shiratakayama, Mt. Shiratakayama, Mt. Shirataka-yama

Shirataka-yama (白鷹山しらたかやま) is a 994m (3261 ft.) peak in the Murayama and Okitama regions of Yamagata prefecture best climbed from May to November. Shirataka-yama is a level 1 in terms of physical demand, which means it is easy to hike, has an A technical grade, which means it requires little expertise, and you want to allow at least 40 minutes for a climb.

Mountain Range



Murayama, Okitama


994m (3261 ft.)

Technical Demand

A (requires little expertise)

Physical Demand

1 (easy to hike)


Five: 1) Nakayama Trail (90 minutes one-way), 2) Hosono / Ogino Trailhead (1 hour 40 each way), 3) Omotesando Trailhead (20 minutes one-way), 4) Odaira / Shirataka-yama Kogen Bokujo Trailhead (1 hour one-way), 5) Takehara Trailhead (50 minutes one-way)

Best time to climb

May to November

Day trip possible?


Minimum Time Required

40 minutes return on the Omotesando Trailhead

Google Map with trailheads and summit.

PDF Maps by TheHokkaidoCartographer and See all here.


Mt. Shogadake
Dancing in the Day Lilies: Shoga-dake
Hiking Japan’s Forgotten Highway: Sabane-yama and Ushu-Kaido (Mt. Sabane)
Yura in Tsuruoka city seen from Mt. Arakura
Mountains of Sakura: Arakura-yama (Mt. Arakura)


Hiking Japan’s Forgotten Highway: Sabane-yama and Ushu-Kaido (Mt. Sabane)
Close Encounters of the Tengu Kind
Mt. Atsumi in Atsumi Onsen, a quaint Onsen Hot Spring town in Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture
Reaching Peak Tranquility: Atsumi-dake (Mt. Atsumi)



Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi




Get In Touch

Share this:

Like this:

Like Loading...
Scroll to Top