Mt. Nabewari is one of the peaks of the Tanzawa mountain range in the Kanagawa Prefecture. Although often overshadowed by its popular neighboring summits, Nabewariyama is never short of scenic trails, stunning views and of course, some good grind to top. .
Late December to January is the peak of winter in Japan. Gone are the bright red, orange and yellow autumn colors as deciduous plants and trees now lose the last few hanging leaves off their branches. By this time, northern Japan is now covered in snow, and ski resorts are welcoming visitors from all places.
In Tokyo and its neighboring prefectures, occasional flurries of snow is experienced. The iconic snow-capped Mt. Fuji is again visible to the east, and oftentimes, so as the other smaller mountains around.
While it instinctively feels right to just stay at the warmth of your home, sip a hot cup of coffee or perhaps wrestle with the pillows, going outdoors on a winter is not a bad idea either. If the weather permits, it is a chance to experience things exclusive to this season.
It’s our first hike of 2017. And with the recent sprinkles of snow in the Kanto area, the mountains started flaunting some beautiful silver accents which are very difficult to ignore. Our destination is Mt. Nabewari in Hadano city, just an hour away from Tokyo.
Mt. Nabewari Sights and Scenes
Mt. Nabewari is one of the peaks of the Tanzawa mountain range in the Kanagawa Prefecture. Although often overshadowed by its popular neighboring summits, Nabewariyama is never short of scenic trails, stunning views and of course, some good grind to top.
Mt. Nabewari stands at 1.2 masl, a bit below average compared to the popular peaks within the vicinity. Although it doesn’t house any major temples or shrines, it showcases a beautiful unobstructed view of Mt. Fuji at the summit.
Mt. Nabewari’s jumpoff is at Hatano Togawa Park with two trails leading to the summit. The west route, which is about 8 kilometers, has gentler slopes that steepens only on the final few hundred meters. This path is more like a fire road easily accessible by mountain bikes.
There are a few minor river crossing along the way so wearing waterproof shoes is a good idea if you opt to take this route.
The east trail, on the other hand, is shared with Mt. Tonodake for the most part. Stretching for about 10 kilometers with much higher steep grades, it definitely is the more challenging route. Of course, work will pay off because it offers better overlooking views of western Kanagawa.
For this hike, we took the east route on the way up then descended on the west, finishing in over six hours. It was a clear sunny day in Mt. Nabewari. The surrounding landscape was clearly visible on all directions, something we missed the last time we were here.
It’s interesting to see how a mountain changes over different seasons. Last summer, it was luscious green almost everywhere you look. Winter is whole new picture.
At 1000 masl, the snow stays for days without completely melting even on consecutive sunny days. It was a lovely sight in Nabeweriyama especially for someone who grew in the tropics.
The east trail splits at the 8th kilometer. Mt. Tonodake is just 600 meters further east, a good side trip if you have extra time and energy.
At this point, you are actually on a higher elevation than Mt. Nabewari so basically the tough climbs are already over. The challenge though, this time, is the slippery snow.
Hiking on snow covered trail can be really dangerous. Attaching snow grips or aizen on your regular hiking shoes can significantly reduce any chances of injury or accident. You can buy them at outdoor sports shop for around 1000 to 4000 Yen depending on the brand and design.
The two kilometer stretch between Mt. Tonodake and Mt. Nabewari is actually my favorite. It is basically an east-west ridge, with a gallery of northern and southern mountain views. The white carpet made it even more breathtaking.
The summit is an open area directly facing Mt. Fuji. Most hikers stay here to rest and have a picnic. Although there are a few benches around, it is still better to bring a groundsheet.
The only establishment at the top is the Nabewari Sanso. It’s a small resthouse and restaurant serving the visitors for decades. For a chilly winter hike like this, chowing down a hot delicious bowl of their popular Nabeyaki Udon is definitely relaxing.
How to get to Mt. Nabewari
The trailhead is most conveniently accessible via Shibusawa Station of Odakyu line, which is about an hour of train ride from Tokyo. Outside the station, take bus no. 2 bound for Okura (last stop). The trailhead is 10 minutes away on foot.
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