Mt Izugatake (851m), Hanno City, Saitama Prefecture, Sunday, November 27, 2022

I had climbed this peak over ten years ago, starting at Shomaru station, passing by Nenogongen Tenryu-ji Temple and ending at Agano station. This time, I wanted to climb it again as a station to station hike on the north side, which would also include a section of the Kanto Fureai no Michi. I could also take advantage of the direct limited express to Nishi-Agano, the last one running during the autumn season.

View towards the Green line from above the Old Shomaru Pass

Doraemon’s “anywhere door”, near Shomaru station

It was a sunny autumn day as I rode the Seibu Laview from Ikebukuro. At Nishi-Agano, I transferred to the Seibu-Chichibu line for the one-station ride to Shomaru station. A little after 10 am, I set off on a paved road along a stream, and soon reached the start of the hiking trail under a massive, orange Japanese maple.

Hiking in the sun near Kame-iwa

Steps leading to Mt Gorin (left) Approaching Mt Kawagoshi (right)

I followed the narrow path as it wound up the mountain side through a dark cedar forest. Just after 11am, I passed Kame-iwa (かめ岩), now walking in the sun; soon after, I arrived at Mt Okura (大蔵山 720m), a minor peak surrounded by trees. Here, I turned left, following the ridge; after climbing some log steps, I reached the top of Mt Gorin (五輪山 770m, meaning 5 rings), also within the forest. A little beyond, I stopped at junction, below the summit of today’s mountain.

Autumn colours near the summit of Mt Izugatake

View of the Kanto plain from just below the summit

I chose the gently sloping right branch, skipping the steep, rocky path of the other approach; I had already done my first time up this peak. A little before noon, I reached the summit of Mt Izu (伊豆ヶ岳 いずがたけ izugatake). Through the trees on the east side, I could see the low hills of Oku-Musashi, and beyond the Kanto plain; on the west side, the snowy top of Mt Asama was visible in the distance. After a short break lunch, I went back the same way.

A trail marker for the Kanto Fureai no Michi

Easy walking along the ridgeline

I followed the gently undulating ridgeline, the bare forest surrendering occasional glimpses of forested hills. I was now walking on the well-maintained Kanto Fureai no Michi. At 1pm, I reached a teahouse at Shomaru Pass (正丸峠) where I had a view of the valley leading to Shomaru station. I crossed the road, rejoining the hiking trail, and passed an arbor, the surrounding view mostly blocked by the trees.

Hiking between the Shomaru and Old Shomaru passes

Steps leading to Mt Shomaru (left) Steps leading to the Old Shomaru pass

I continued on the relaxing, easy trail, the autumn sun now below the treetops; I passed the minor peaks of Mt Shomaru (正丸山 785m) and Mt Kawagoshi (川越山), and at the bottom of a long series of log steps, arrived at the Old Shomaru Pass (旧正丸峠), just before 2pm. Here, I turned right, leaving the Kanto Fureai no Michi, heading into the forest and down the mountain. After crossing a road, the trail ran alongside a small stream.

Last autumn colours of the season under a rocky outcrop

Approaching the end of the hiking trail

I passed by some trees in beautiful autumn colours, at the base of a rocky outcrop, probably the last time to see autumn leaves while hiking this year. At 3pm, I exited the forest and followed the road back to the nicely-designed Shomaru station, just a short distance away. There, I boarded the local train for the one-stop ride to Nishi-Agano and then transferred to the limited express for the one hour ride back to Ikebukuro.

See a video from the Mt Izugatake hike

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