Mt Mido (878m), Shimonita Town, Gunma Prefecture, Monday, January 9, 2023

After my Annaka to Annaka hike, I needed to find another mountain I could climb in the winter using the Tokyo Wide Pass. I decided to visit the Nishi-Joshu area, since my last hike there was nearly 3 years ago. I found a suitable peak in my mountains of Gunma guidebook, low enough to be still free of snow, and short enough so I could catch the mid-afternoon bus back. To give myself some extra time, I would get to Shimonita station an hour before the morning bus and take a taxi to the trailhead. Although the hike went up and down the same path, I could check out a couple of viewpoints on the way, as well as this peak’s claim to fame: two tall rock pillars perched on the mountain side. I was looking forward to revisiting Nishi-Joshu after a long interval and getting some new views of the area.

Hiking with the Tokyo Wide Pass

“Old Man Old Woman Rock” the highlight of the hike

Download a map of the Mt Mido hike

This map was developed for Japanwilds with the Hokkaido Cartographer

Find more Japan hiking maps on Avenza

View of flat-topped Mt Arafune from Jijiiwa-Babaiwa

I rode the shinkansen to Takasaki on a sunny, cloudless day and then transferred to the Joshin line for Shimonita, arriving there a little after 10am. It took about ten minutes by taxi to reach the trail entrance, and after getting ready, I set off along a forest road through the cedars. I soon passed the end of the forest road, and by 11am, was walking up a rocky valley; I was finally starting to warm up, thanks to the sun, shining through the bare trees.

Walking among the cedars (left) Mi-n0-Taki waterfall (right)

View of Mt Myogi from the summit

I was extra careful to check for hidden holes, the path being covered in a layer of dead leaves. At 11h30, I reached Mi-no-Taki waterfall, barely a trickle at this time of year. It was also the trickiest part of the hike, requiring a quick scramble up a rocky face, fitted with a rope for safety. Next, a short, steep climb brought me to an intersection at the top of the valley. Here, I dropped my pack and headed left for the short roundtrip to the first viewpoint.

Steep section at the top of the valley (left) Old Woman Rock (right)

Looking down at Jijiiwa-Babaiwa from the second viewpoint

I followed a narrow ridge passing by the base of a rocky outcrop, and after a few minutes, reached a level, rocky ledge, opposite “Jjji-iwa Baba-iwa” (じじ岩ばば岩) meaning “Old man rock old woman rock”), two impressive stone pillars perched at the end of the ridge. Turning around, I had a bird’s-eye view of a deep valley, with flat-topped Mt Arafune in the background. Since it was nearly noon, I found a spot to sit and had an early lunch. After enjoying the view, I made my way back to the intersection and continued along the right branch.

Looking south towards the Mikabo Super forest road

View southeast of Mt Ogeta

I was surprised by how dry everything was, dust flying up from the trail at every gust of wind. After some more climbing along the narrow, twisting ridgeline, I reached the summit of Mt Mido (御堂山 みどうやま mido-yama), a Gunma 100-famous mountain, a little before 1am. It was mostly in the trees, but I could make out the jagged summit of Mt Myogi, as well as the snowy top of Mt Asama, both on the north side. After a short break, I retraced my steps to a turn-off for the nearby “Jitoba-ura-tenbosho”, the rear viewpoint of the stone pillars.

Climbing the narrow ridgeline (left) Walking back along the forest road (right)

Late afternoon light filtering down into the deep valley

Standing next to a rocky outcrop, I had a fantastic view of “Jijiiwa-babaiwa”. I continued a little further to the end of the path, where I had a view of Mt Ogeta and the Kanto plain on the west side, and Mt Akaguna and the Mikabo Super forest road on the south side. I found a place to sit and finished the second half of my lunch. It was now past 2 pm so I quickly made my way back down the same way, carefully navigating the descent down Mi-no-taki waterfall, reaching the bus stop just in the time for the 3h30 bus. Back at Shimonita, I boarded the Joshin line for the one-hour trip back to Takasaki, where I transferred to the Shinkansen for Tokyo.

See a video of the Mt Mido hike

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