On our quest to climb all 100 famous Japanese mountains or 日本百名山 (Nihon Hyakumeizan) as they are known in Japanese, we headed to Ono Town in Fukui prefecture to hike Mount Arashima, Fukui’s highest peak towering over Ono Town at 1523m.
Mt. Arashima is located in a rural area of Fukui and it’s not a very popular hike compared to some of the other 100 famous mountains in Japan due to its inaccessibility and limited public transport connections.
When we hiked Mt. Arashima in late April, there was still some snow near the summit but it was still accessible without using crampons. The views from the summit were spectacular and we would see Mt. Haku and other snow-capped mountains in the distance.
Mount Arashima is commonly done as a day hike but it is possible to camp near the summit which we did so we could watch the sunrise.
The information and photos we share in our 100 famous Japanese mountains blog posts include the type of information we wish we could have known before doing the hikes ourselves.
Name: Mt. Arashima (荒島岳)
Location: Fukui Prefecture
Region: Chubu (中部地方)
Elevation Gain: 1186m
Time: 6.5 Hours (3.5 hours up / 3 hours down)
Difficulty Rating: 3.5/5
Trail Head: Mt. Nakade Course Parking Lot (see map below)
Mount Arashima Trailhead
There are two trailheads for Mount Arashima and both take a similar amount of time. Since we were travelling around Fukui prefecture in our campervan, we started the hike from the trailhead at the Mt. Nakade course parking lot (荒島岳登山口 中出コース駐車場) on the outskirts of Ono Town.
If you have access to your own vehicle, we recommend starting the hike from the Mt. Nakade course parking lot (荒島岳登山口 中出コース駐車場) trailhead since there is space for around 35 cars to park for free, there are clean toilets, a vending machine, spring drinking water and a cold foot bath.
There is also a coin shower available at the roadside station in Ono Town which is located around a 10 minute drive from this trailhead.
If you are planning to access Mt. Arashima by public transport then it’s better to start the hike from Kadohara trailhead (勝原スキー場駐車場荒島岳登山口) which has a toilet and is located a 1.2km walk from Kadohara train station. There are around 4 trains per day from Fukui City on the JR Etsumihoku Line to Kadohara.
There is a beautiful free campsite called Shengyuan Garden (勝原園地) beside the river in Kadohara town which we definitely recommend if you are looking for somewhere to stay the night before or after your hike. There is spring drinking water available at the campsite and this was one of our favourite campsites in Fukui prefecture.
Mt. Arashima Hike
From the Mt. Nakade course parking lot (荒島岳登山口 中出コース駐車場) the hike starts on around 10 minutes on a forestry road before there is a signpost for a path on the left.
The path continues uphill through a forest without many views. It was our first hike of the year and we found the constant uphill pretty tiring and took many rests. From the other sweaty hikers we encountered on the path, it seems we weren’t the only ones finding the relentless uphill tough!
The hike continues uphill on the forest path for about 2 hours before you can start to see views of surrounding mountains through gaps in the trees.
The uphill will start to ease and you will reach a junction with a path leading to Mt. Ko-Arashima (小荒島岳) on the left and Mt. Arashima straight ahead.
The 15-minute detour to Mt. Ko-Arashima (小荒島岳) is definitely worth it as you will be rewarded with spectacular views over Ono Town and a great view of Mt. Arashima and other surrounding mountains.
After detouring to Mt. Ko-Arashima (小荒島岳), the path is pretty flat for around 15 minutes before reaching a small clearing called the Rhododendron Plateau (シャクナゲ平) where it’s possible to camp (see below for more information).
The paths from the two trailheads meet at this point and we spent the night here so we could be on the summit of Mt. Arashima for the sunrise.
The hike from the Rhododendron Plateau (シャクナゲ平) to the summit of Mt. Arashima took us around 1 hour since and there was still snow on around 20% of the path during late April.
The first 15 minutes of the path goes downhill through a forest before the uphill starts again. There are some ropes and chains to assist hikers which we found useful on the snowy parts of the path.
The summit of Mount Arashima has spectacular views over Mt. Haku and other mountains in the distance. There is also a small shrine on the top of the mountain.
Mt. Arashima Camping
We called the Ono Tourist Information center and asked if it was possible to camp on Mt. Arashima. They confirmed that it’s possible for 2-3 tents to camp at the small clearing called the Rhododendron Plateau (シャクナゲ平), located around 60 minutes from the summit of Mt. Arashima.
The area for pitching tents is sheltered and without any facilities such as a toilet or drinking water.
Overall Impressions of Hiking Mt. Arashima
Since this was the first hike of the season for us, we found the constant uphill pretty tough. The hike up Mt. Arashima is commonly done as a day hike but if like us you love watching sunrises, camping at the Rhododendron Plateau (シャクナゲ平) is a nice idea and it helps break up the hike.
The summit of Mt. Arashima was extremely cold during late April and there was still some snow on the path. If we were to do this hike again, we would choose to do it in the summer months since we always prefer seeing the view covered with lush green leaves rather than sparse bald trees!