It was all stairs, and then a bit of cliff. Right before you summit. I was utterly scared, but then had little kids pass me by.
Outside of that, this mountain is pretty rich in history. It's the highest mountain in Shikoku and is therefore considered the "roof of Shikoku", and pilgrims regularly hike up using the chains going up. In fact, I encountered a group of these pilgrims, and you'll definitely recognize them as they are dressed in all white, and ring a bell while they are hiking.
Budget: JPY9,760 (~USD92)
- JPY5,720.Train, Matsuyama Station <> Iyo-Saijo Station (JPY2,860 one way)
- JPY2,040. Bus, Saijou Station <> Ropeway
- JPY2,000. Ropeway, roundtrip.
Hike Date / Difficulty (Elevation: 1,982m / 6,503ft)
- September 20, 2020
- Difficulty: 4 out of 5. I would normally put this as a 3, but the technical segment right before Mt. Tengu makes it a 4.
- Route below is around 9.4kilometers, with an elevation change of ▲1,137m/ ▽1,137m
- PDF Map Link
- I did this hike as part of a four night-four day trip to Shikoku. I'll link the blog post once it's published.
When to Go
Throughout the year it seems. Except women are not allowed on July 1st (wiki).
- Trailhead: Nishinokawa (西之川) OR Ropeway (same bus).
- Train, Iyo-Saijo Station(伊予西条駅)
- Bus, Saijou Station (西条駅前) to Ropeway (Nishinokawa (西之川) is two minutes more), JPY1,020, 1 hour, one way. Bus schedule here.
- Ropeway, JPY1,050 one way. Website here. Schedule differs, but generally from 8am to 5pm, ropeway every 20 minutes. Check if it is available, as for 2020 it was closed from March to April.
Bus schedule, Saijou Station (西条駅前) to Ropeway
Bus schedule, Ropeway to Saijou Station (西条駅前)
- 06:13am. Matsuyama Station to Iyo-Saijou Station. Not all cars are valid for unreserved tickets, so look for "自由席".
- 07:11am. Arrived at Saijou Station. On the left of the gates was a 7-11, where I got some snacks and coffee. Upon exiting, there's two bus stops, and the bus stop on the right says Mt. Ishizuchi, so I assume that's where my bus is. There were about five people waiting when I got there, and I put my bags to line up.
- 07:47am. Bus, Saijou Station to Ropeway. The bus filled up fast and there were even some people standing, so earlier is definitely better.
- 08:41am. Arrived at the bus stop to the ropeway. At the bus stop, walk towards the rusty arch that says "ロープウエイ入口". There's a flight of stairs right before the arch, and I went up there following the crowd. Soon there was a fork, with the left going down and the right going up. I went right.
- 08:48am. Arrived at the ropeway boarding. There's already a long line for the tickets, and I immediately fell in line, and paid JPY2,000 for the tickets via credit card.
- 09:00am. Boarded the ropeway. The ride is over in about 5 minutes, and I then took the time to get ready for the hike.
- 09:15am. Start hike.
- 09:35am. Arrived at the shrine with the big torii. There's only one path until the shrine, at which point there's a sign pointing to the left that says "登山口”, which means trailhead. I turned left then. Surprisingly, after I entered the trailhead, it started going down!
- 09:54am. Arrived at the lowest point of the hike. From here on, it is just one straight ascent up til the summit. Soon enough the trail changed into stairs section, though "section" doesn't seem right as the stairs never ended until the summit.
- 10:25am. Arrived at the first set of chains, but is not one of the official chain sections (there are three). As I planned to skip all chain sections to save time and for safety purposes since I'm hiking alone, I went around it. It's really an additional time, as they went up and then down.
- 10:45am. I got into a marker, where it seems I'm halfway through my elevation gain.
- 10:57am. First chain section. I skipped it.
- 11:10am. Second chain section. Skipped it too.
- 11:23am. Third chain section. Skipped it again.
- 11:30am. Mt. Misen peak. It was utterly, utterly crowded. I sat down to eat the sandwich I bought at 7-11, and then headed out to Mt. Tengu, the highest point. The path between Mt. Misen and Mt. Tengu is utterly sketchy, and definitely not beginner friendly. There were sections where I had to walk across some rock, which has plenty of space for footing - except that it's a cliff on my left and on my right, and nothing to hold on to. Which means, a slip means quite a big fall. Hence, definitely NOT recommended if it's raining or if with strong winds. Though, there were young kids going up and down, so maybe I'm just too scared.
- 12:00pm. Arrived at the summit. Where there were 10+ people in front of me lining up to take a photo with the marker.
- 12:12pm. Finally, it was my turn!
- 12:31pm. Back at Mt. Misen. It can get pretty crowded, and a good portion of the path is only passable by one person at a time. Given that priority was to people going up, people who were going back had to wait. But we can only wait so long, until we block the rest of the way. In those cases, we generally request the people going up to stop and let us pass. With the Japanese, I just waited until one of the Japanese does so. I then went back the way I went up.
- 02:40pm. I arrived at the ropeway boarding area, just in time to be allowed in.
- 02:58am. I arrived at the bus stop back to Saijou Station. An old guy called me, and told me to buy the ticket from him beforehand. So I paid him JPY1,020 (cash only), and went back to the line. He said that the last bus typically gets crowded with people with "weak feet" (tldr=slow), so it's good I was am getting on the 3pm bus.
- 03:17pm. Bus back to Saijou Station.
- 04:11pm. Back at Iyo-Saijou Station. Take the train back to Matsuyama Station.
|Time to go to Iyo-Saijou Station!!!|
|The view from the train is amazing!|
|Upon exiting, you'll see two sheds. The one on the right says Mt. Ishizuchi. |
|The bus was full!|
|See that arch? That's the entrance to the ropeway.|
|To the right of the arch is the stairs leading up to it.|
|Long line! And I came on the first bus! Obviously, plenty of people come via private vehicles. |
|This is the view at the top of the ropeway.|
|Just follow the main road (there's only one), and it'll split soon enough. On the right is the chair lifts - which is used mainly for skiing in winter I believe.|
|The shrine. See that little sign at the left of the torii? That points to the trailhead. |
|That on the left is the trailhead. |
|What surprised me was that the path was going DOWN. |
|Until I reached this point, and then it's all uphill now. |
|The trial chain. Maybe to know if you want to do the chain segments later on? I am hiking solo in a far away land during a pandemic. I'm not taking more risks than I have to, so I skipped all the chain segments. |
|Pretty good view going up. As the weather is never certain, I decided to take pictures as much as I can. |
|Non stop stairs. |
|Another marker - this time telling me I'm halfway there. |
|You can see Mt. Misen. The summit is behind that. |
|The first chain section.|
|The alternative to the chain section. |
|They have this split for the steel stairs - left for those going up, right for those going down. |
|The third chain segment is not as well marked. But that little white thing is it. |
|Mt. Misen. It was surprisingly crowded at the summit. But then the summit was pretty small too. |
|The highest point! I was iffy on whether I'm gonna go or not. But... since I'm not planning on coming back to Shikoku, I decided to just do it. |
|This is the trail. You can see the parts on the rock where people step on. As someone with a fear of heights, this was NOT fun. |
|The line to the summit. |
|A common pose (for women, it seems). Putting the marker on their butts. |
|Finally it was my turn! Here's the summit! No, I did not put the marker on my butt.|
|And here's the way back. Single file only. You can see the white arrow painted on it. Definitely not a good place to walk on when it's raining. or windy. or anything really. |
|When I got back, it was utterly crowded!|
|Take a peek back! And back to the trailhead I go!|
|Back to the stairs. |
|And with the crowds, even the stairs have lines. |
|So let me enjoy the view. |
|Soon enough I'm back at the ropeway.|
|And at the bus stop. Bye bye Mt. Ishizuchi....|