Mt Sekison (571m), Annaka City, Gunma Prefecture, Saturday, January 7, 2023

I wanted to use the Tokyo Wide Pass for the long first weekend of 2023. I searched my maps for some low-altitude mountains near a shinkansen station and finally found a series of minor summits, part of the Annaka Alps, north of Annaka-Haruna station, one stop from Takasaki on the Hokuriku line. I had often passed through this station on the way to and from Karuizawa, so I was glad for a chance to finally get off there. The hike through these hills was relatively short, but could be extended by following the Kanto Fureai no Michi, as it headed south from Mt Haruna. Upon reaching a road, I could catch a bus back to Annaka station on the Shin-Etsu line, therefore completing an “Annaka to Annaka hike” of my own creation.

Hiking with the Tokyo Wide Pass

Hiking the Kanto Fureai no Michi 関東ふれあいの道

Hiking the Annaka Alps 安中アルプス

View of the hike from Kanbai Park

I reached the Annaka-Haruna at 11am on a sunny winter day and was stunned by the clear view of Mt Myogi from outside the station. Half an hour later, I was walking up a road on the north side, and soon spotted a signpost for a trail on the right. I followed a narrow path as it went through a bamboo forest, then merged with a forest road, before reaching a parking lot at the end of a paved road. On the other side, the trail continued up a series of log steps through beautiful forest.

View of Mt Myogi from Annaka-Haruna Station

Start of the trail leading to the “47 statues”

I suddenly found myself walking under a cliff, and felt nervous about rockfall, something I hadn’t expected on today’s hike. I had arrived at a historical site called “The statues of the 47 loyal retainers of Ako-Gishu” (赤穂義士四十七士石像), in memory of the 47 Ronin. After quickly confirming that there were indeed 47 statues along the base of the cliff, I set off again, up a steep trail winding around the back of the rocky outcrop.

A log staircase going up through sunny forest

The trail passes near the base of a rocky outcrop

As I neared the top, I stepped into a hole hidden by dead leaves and banged my knee on a rock; fortunately, it was more fright than harm. A few minutes later, I reached the summit of Mt Goten (御殿山 400m); it was completely in the trees so I soon moved on. I followed a mostly level trail through a dark cedar forest till it ended at a dirt road. Using my map, I quickly picked up the trail again, as it led to the top of a hill.

The hike alternated between sunny and shady sections

Hiking through the winter woods

I was now walking on a sunny level path, with glimpses of Mt Haruna on the north side, through leafless trees. At 1pm, I arrived at the summit of Mt Sekison (石尊山 せきそんさん sekison-san), a gunma 100-famous mountain, and rested on a bench with a narrow view to the south. After lunch, I followed a path down the other side, and after crossing a road, walked up the next hill. I soon passed the summit of Mt Toya (605m 戸谷山 とややま), in the trees, and headed down the other side, arriving at the Kanto Fureai no Michi at 2pm, where I turned left.

Most of the trail was easy to walk

The entire hill range is known as the Annaka Alps

I followed a pleasant trail, downhill through sunny forest, with occasional views of the Joshu mountains, reaching a road and a bus stop at around 3pm. I decided to check out the Akima Plum Grove (秋間梅林), a short distance away. From the highest point of Kanbai Park (観梅公園), I was rewarded view of the hills I had just hiked, as well as some early pink plum blossoms. I followed a different path through the park back to the road. There, I got on a bus for Annaka station, just 3 stops from Takasaki station, from where I could catch the shinkansen for the 40-minute ride to Tokyo.

See the views along the Mt Sekison hike

See more pictures of the Mt Sekison hike

2 thoughts on “Mt Sekison (571m), Annaka City, Gunma Prefecture, Saturday, January 7, 2023”

  1. Thanks for this. I just moved to Nagano and did a bit of hiking in Gunma for the first time a few weeks ago. Driving back, I too was stunned by how cool Myogi looks. That one has gone on the list!

    1. It’s one of the few peaks in the area I haven’t done and may never do, unless I buy myself a harness and some rope (or go with Kanto Adventures).

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