Walking the Skyline Ridge – Traversing Mt. Tsurugi and Mt. Jirogyu

Japan is a country where three-quarters of its land is covered by mountainous terrain.Although Mt. Fuji is famous, Japan boasts numerous other breathtaking mountains, each with its own unique appeal.

Mt. Tsurugi(剣山), located near the center of Shikoku in Tokushima Prefecture, is the second tallest mountain in western Japan. In the past, Mt. Tsurugi was called the “Sacred Peak” and was revered for mountain worship in Shugendo(修験道) practice.

However, in 1970, a chairlift was constructed, enabling people to get from the 7th station to the 9th station in just 15 minutes. After getting off the 9th station lift, visitors can reach the summit in about 1 hour. Due to this easy accessibility,  Mt.Tsurugi has transformed from a religious site to a popular tourist destination, attracting numerous climbers during the season.

Let’s Take the Lift from Minokoshi

Today, I’ll take the lift for a shortcut and hike along the beautiful ridge that connects the summits of Mt. Tsurugi and its neighboring Mt. Jirogyu(次郎笈).

You can access the 7th station ‘Minonokoshi(見ノ越),’ where the lift station is situated, by car. Additionally, there are two daily bus services available from JR Sadamitsu Station to ‘Minonokoshi’.

The round-trip fare for the lift is 1,900 yen. It takes 15 minutes to ascend directly to the 9th station.

While riding the lift, you can enjoy a view of the Shikoku Range mountains. Beyond them, the Seto Inland Sea stretches out. On clear and sunny days, it is said that you might even catch a distant glimpse of Mt. Daisen in Tottori Prefecture.

First, Heading Towards Mt. Jirogyu

We arrived at the 9th Station, Nishijima Station.
From here, there are four routes to the summit of Mt.Tsurugi.

We walked along the gentle ‘Promenade Course’ located on the Jirogyu side.

After walking for a while, we came across a huge rock.This is the main deity of Tsurugi Shrine, known as the “Hozou Ishigami.Even from a distance, you can feel the tremendous presence it holds.

This is where the path splits to Mt. Tsurugi’s summit and Mt. Jirogyu’s summit.
First, we aimed for the summit of Mt. Jirogyu.

The tops of Mt. Tsurugi and Mt. Jirogyu are connected by this ridge. We walked along it, enjoying the refreshing air and fantastic views of the Shikoku mountain range. The sky and sun felt incredibly close as we went.

Taking a leisurely trek, we arrived at the summit of Mt. Jirogyu in about an hour. Following Mt. Tsurugi, Jirogyu is the third tallest mountain in western Japan. By the way, the tallest mountain in western Japan is Mt. Ishizuchi in Ehime Prefecture. The three highest mountains in western Japan are all located in Shikoku.

The elevation of Mt.Jirogyu is 1930 meters.

Towards the Summit of Mount Tsurugi

We retraced our steps and now aimed for the summit of Mount Tsurugi.The hiking trail is well-maintained, making it very beginner-friendly and easy to walk on. However, one thing to be cautious of is the ultraviolet rays. It’s important to apply sunscreen thoroughly, as neglecting to do so can lead to serious skin issues. (My unprotected palms ended up getting a slight sunburn.)

Viewing the summit of Mt. Tsurugi from the top of Mt. Jirogyu.

Left: View of Mt. Jirogyu from Mt. Tsurugi.Mount Tsurugi is also known by the alternate name “Tarogyu(太郎笈).” / Right: View of Mt. Tsurugi from Mt. Jirogyu 

After a leisurely walk of just over an hour, we reached the summit of Mt.Tsurugi!

The elevation of Mt.Tsurugi is 1955 meters.

The summit of Mount Tsurugi is well-maintained, equipped with water taps, restrooms, and ample observation and resting areas.

We had lunch at the summit of Mt. Tsurugi. We enjoyed the bento we had brought along, and one of my friends even prepared cup ramen for us. Eating cup noodles at the top was truly delightful.

Moreover, on this day, the weather was exceptionally clear. To the north, we could see the islands of the Seto Inland Sea, while to the south, the cityscape of Tokushima and even Awaji Island were sharply visible.

Beyond the mountains, you can see the Tokushima Plain, with the Yoshino River flowing through it. The river meets the sea at Tokushima City. Seeing downtown Tokushima City so clearly from the top of Mt.Tsurugi was a new and exciting experience for me.

Furthermore, there is a “Mount Tsurugi Summit Hut” where you can enjoy meals, snacks, and even stay overnight. 

Surprisingly, they have bathing facilities as well, and it’s said to be the highest bath in Japan. If you stay overnight, you can also experience the breathtaking starry sky that spreads across the sky. In the morning, you may also see a sea of clouds.

Descending from the Summit

After thoroughly enjoying the scenery from the summit, we began our journey back.

On the way back, we took a different route and headed to the lift station.This route is lined with fallen and decaying trees that were brought down by typhoons, giving a sense of the harshness of nature.

We were able to enjoy a different atmosphere of scenery than when we climbed.

A Mountain Among Japan’s 100 Famous Mountains: Suitable for Beginners as Well

Mt.Tsurugi is ranked among Japan’s 100 Famous Mountains (日本の百名山).

The “Japan’s 100 Famous Mountains” refers to the 100 mountains listed in the book “Japan’s Top 100 Mountains” published by the mountain-loving novelist Kyuya Fukada in 1964. The selection is based on three criteria: the mountain’s character, historical significance, and uniqueness, and includes mountains with elevations of 1,500 meters or higher. Even after nearly 60 years, “Japan’s 100 Famous Mountains” continues to be cherished as a goal for many climbers.

出典/岳人2017年4月号 日本百名山と深田久弥 モンベル

To be honest, I am not a mountain enthusiast. However, I have climbed Mt. Tsurugi many times on various occasions. Even for beginners who are not accustomed to walking in the mountains, Mt. Tsurugi is easy to hike and offers the opportunity to enjoy seasonal landscapes. This makes me want to visit again and again.

In July, a festival is held at the summit of Mt. Tsurugi to announce the arrival of summer, and a portable shrine is carried.

A well-traveled friend who has climbed renowned mountains around the world once told me, “Japanese mountains are really close to people’s lives. What makes them special is the mix of history, religion,culture, and nature that you can experience.”

In the summer, the slopes are covered with blooming Kirengeshoma flowers.
In Tomiko Miyao’s novel “天蓋の花(Tengai-no-hana),” set on Mt. Tsurugi, the Kirengeshoma flowers are depicted impressively.

I believe Mt. Tsurugi is indeed one of those mountains in Japan where you can easily enjoy the charm of Japanese mountains. Plus,the mountain trail connecting Mt. Tsurugi and Mt. Jirogyu is a beautiful ridge path that even beginners in mountain climbing can enjoy.

Vibrant and beautiful autumn foliage.
In winter, you can also see frost and rime ice.

Links for Tips 

Detailed information about accessing Mt. Tsurugi and more can be found at the following websites:


 Tsurugi Chairlift

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