If you are interested in getting outside this summer and breathing in some fresh mountain air, testing your strength and being adventurous, why not try climbing Mt. Myogi?
Located between Annaka and Tomioka cities and at about 1,104 m (3,622 ft) high, Myogi is a rather unusual-shaped mountain with its jagged edges and steep boulders. It somewhat resembles Mordor, yet is not as scary and is without a creepy eye.
From spring through autumn, climbing Mt Myogi is a spectacular experience. Myogi-san is beautiful in the spring with its blooming cherry blossoms, and is breathtaking in the autumn when the leaves are painted in a splendid mix of fall colors. In the summer, many people hike the various courses, ranging from intermediate to advance levels. The advanced courses and some parts of the intermediate courses can be a little frightening due to their steep inclines, chains and rough ground, so you should be alert and prepared. I am not a very experienced mountain climber, so I hope this will be useful for those of you who just want to get out and try something new. I recommend wearing hiking shoes and a pair of gloves that you can use to aid in gripping the chains.
A few of us took on the Myogi challenge the morning after a rainy evening, so we decided to try the intermediate loop course. Hiking after rain can be a little bit dangerous due to slippery rocks and the rainwater flowing down the mountain in some crevices. We chose the loop course on the left side of the map (near the crab), and we returned to the parking area near Nakanodake Shrine.
Most people start the loop course at Nakanodake Shrine, but we decided to start from the opposite end: at the entrance down the road and to the right of Nakanodake Shrine (中之岳神社) entrance, in order to start with the chains.
Start here! This is about a five minute walk to the right of the shrine. The first chain is not so bad. Watch where you step and make sure to grip the chain tightly.
Climb up this chain first, then walk sidewise like a crab to get across.
There are many signs on the courses, so be sure to mark the shrine and your starting point. Follow the signs for the loop and remember your starting point and finishing point. Even if you can’t read the kanji, you can figure out where you need to go if you can locate Nakanodake Shrine on the left side as well as the images of the rock formations.
This was probably the most challenging chain because the terrain was really rocky and the space to step was narrow. Be careful: rely on the chain a little bit by pulling on it and bringing the weight of your body backward a bit.
Once you reach this giant rock arch formation, there are some picnic tables where you can sit to relax and have a snack. Please take your trash home with you!
To the right of the arch is a great lookout point where you can take photos.
If you continue further, there are two more lookout points. It is a pretty narrow space and very high up, so please be careful where you step.
After you reach the top of the lookout point, take a break; enjoy looking out onto Gunma and soak in the beautiful view. On a clear day you can see the kencho in Maebashi. When you are ready to head back, look for the sign and stay on the trail that leads to Nakanodake Shrine. You will notice Nakanodake Shrine since it is attached to a huge boulder. This area is truly beautiful with the giant cedar trees that align the stone stairs. Descend the stairs and you will reach the main shrine, shops and parking area. After about four hours of climbing we reached our goal.
Happy mountain climbing everyone!
Access: Drive to Nakanodake Shrine.
Address: 中之岳神社, 1248 Kamiosaka, Shimonita
Kanra District, Gunma Prefecture 370-2621.
Parking is free.