(乗鞍岳) Mt. Norikura Hike

 

Definitely public transportation feasible, but save yourself the trouble and only do this when you have a car.  

Budget: JPY9,030 (~USD86)
  • JPY2,410. One day's worth allocated with Seishun 18 ticket.
    • If not using the ticket, JPY8,140. Train, Tokyo < > Matsumoto Station (JPY4,070 one way)
  • JPY1,420. Train, Matsumoto Station < > Shinshimashima Station (JPY710 one way)
  • JPY2,700. Bus, Shinshimashima Station < > Norikura Kogen Tourist Information Center  (JPY1,350 one way)
  • JPY2,500. Bus, Roundtrip, Norikura Kogen Tourist Information Center < > Tatamidaira. 
    • Even with a car, this is a non-optional expense
Hike Date / Difficulty (Elevation: 3,026m / 9,928ft)
  • 2021
  • Difficulty: 1 out of 5
  • Route below is around 5.5kilometers, with an elevation change of ▲478m/ ▽474m
  • PDF Map Link 

When to Go
The trailhead, Tatamidaira, is not accessible by private cars, and the bus only runs from July 1 to October 31, making that a hiking restriction. 

Special Notes
  • Weather check: English / Japanese
  • Trailhead: Tatamidaira. There are other trailheads, but most access (public transport wise) uses the same shuttle below. 
    • Train, Tokyo area to Matsumoto Station (JR Line), JPY4,070, 4.5 hours one way.
    • Train, Matsumoto Station to Shinshimashima Station (Alpico Line), JPY710, 30 minutes one way.
      • Leaving around 4:30am, the earliest arrival is at 10:40am. 
    • Bus, Shinshimashima Station to Norikura Kogen Tourist Information Center. JPY1,350, 50 minutes one way. Bus runs throughout the year. 
    • Bus, Norikura Kogen Tourist Information Center to Tatamidaira. Bus only runs from July 1 to October 31. JPY1,500 one way, 50 minutes. Ticket is discounted to JPY2,500 roundtrip. 
  • Private cars are not allowed to go to Tatamidaira, so if you have one, park at Norikura Kogen Tourist Information Center and then take the bus. 
  • It is not feasible as a dayhike from Tokyo with public transportation.  So either get a car, pay for an express train (additional JPY2,000 with the Seishun 18 pass not usable) or stay somewhere in Matsumoto. 
Itinerary
  • 10:40am. ETA: Shinshimashima Station.
  • 10:55am. Bus, Shinshimashima Station to Norikura Kogen Tourist Information Center
  • 11:42am. ETA: Norikura Kogen Tourist Information Center. 
  • 12:00pm. Bus, Norikura Kogen Tourist Information Center to Tatamidaira
  • 12:50pm. ETA: Tatamidaira
  • 01:00pm. Start hike.
  • 02:35pm. ETA: Summit. 
  • 04:20pm. ETA: Tatamidaira. 
  • 04:30pm. Bus, Tatamidaira to Norikura Kogen Tourist Information Center
  • 05:20pm. ETA: Norikura Kogen Tourist Information Center
  • 06:23pm. Bus, Norikura Kogen Tourist Information Center to Shinshimashima Station.
  • 07:25pm. Train, Shinshimashima Station to Matsumoto Station
  • 07:54pm. ETA: Matsumoto Station.
  • At this point, it is unlikely to get back to Tokyo within the day.
Itinerary

  • 07:15am. Train, Matsumoto Station. Platform 7. Bought my roundtrip tickets from Matsumoto Station to Norikura Kogen Tourist Center (discounted) at the ticket machines 9 and 10. IC Cards are not accepted in the train, so even if you don't want a roundtrip ticket you'd still have to buy from here.
  • 07:49am. Shinshimashima Station. The bus to Norikura Kogen Tourist Center is waiting just outside. There are people guiding everyone upon exiting the station. When boarding, I was asked if I'm going to Tatamidaira after. I said yes, then we boarded. 
  • 08:05am. Bus, Shinshimashima Station to Norikura Kogen Tourist Information Center. I sat on the left side (opposite the driver side), and overall I think that's the better side to enjoy the view. A lot of people went down in the middle to transfer to Kamikochi. 
  • 09:08am. Arrived at Norikura Kogen Tourist Information Center. Crossed the street straight to the counter (left side/higher side when crossing). There is a manned counter and a ticket machine. Both only accept cash. There were a couple in front of me who didn't have cash, and the guy simply said nope, no other options (I talked to them and had them wire me money in exchange for cash so everybody was happy, don't worry). So I got my ticket, went to the restroom, and fell in line. The bus stop is right across the counter to buy tickets. There was a long line when I went, and they had an extra bus to accommodate everyone.
  • 09:30am. Bus, Norikura Kogen Tourist Information Center to Tatamidaira. This was not on the schedule online (online says the next bus was 10am), but I'm not complaining. Earlier the better.
  • 10:26am. Arrived at Tatamidaira. There are restrooms inside the restaurants (paid) and in the middle of the parking lot (free, but a tad smelly). Started the hike. There is a shrine in there. Go to the building in front of it (not to its left side), and the trailhead is down the stairs to the far left. Walked past that, and just followed the signs (plenty of signs all over). I took a segue to one of the summits with the round top. No markers or anything, so not really something I'd recommend. 
  • 11:45am. Arrived at the mountain huts, continued hiking. From here on was a very steep ascent with loose rocks. As this is the only trail, plenty of people going up and down, so it was very crowded. 
  • 12:25pm. Arrived at the summit! Oh, wait, no. The summit was behind this fake summit. The real summit has a shrine and a torii. I continued on. 
  • 12:34pm. Almost there! But the hike ground to a stop, and I had to wait in line and slowly go up. I ate my snacks, made some calls, flew my drone....
  • 01:16pm. Arrived at the summit marker! Apparently this is what the line is for. I thought the summit was just too crowded. At this point the rain has started, and visibility was soon almost zero. I descended as quickly as I can, and skipped the other summit I wanted to do (no point, zero visibility). 
  • 02:34pm. Arrived back at the trailhead, where people are falling in line. I followed their lead and fell in line (big mistake, should have just entered the restaurants and waited til the bus came). 
  • 03:05pm. Bus, Tatamidaira to Norikura Kogen Tourist Information Center. They prioritized people going to Shinshimashima Station, so pay attention if someone goes asking about it. 
  • 03:55pm. Arrived at Norikura Kogen Tourist Information Center. 
  • 04:13pm. Bus, Norikura Kogen Tourist Information Center to Shinshimashima Station. The bus stop was across the bus stop I got off at earlier. 
  • 05:22pm. Train, Shinshimashima Station to Matsumoto Station. There was a long line here too. Sigh. 
  • 05:52pm. Arrived at Matsumoto Station, where it was pouring full on. Had dinner, and tried to withdraw some cash (as I gave away my cash earlier). All ATMs rejected my card, so I had to call Tateshina Hut to ask if they accept credit card/Pay pay. They said no. So I had to cancel my reservation, and shift my plans. What changed was I now booked a hotel near Suwa Lake, and was just doing two day hikes. 

Buying the round trip tickets to Norikura Tourist Center. 

There's an English option, and I chose this ticket. 

Got the tickets! They are valid for seven days. 

Arrived at Shinshimashima Station (yes, it's a mountful)

The bus to the tourist center. 

Enjoying the view at the bus. 

The tourist center. The counter is at the right. 

Got the tickets. The bus going to Tatamidaira is right in front of the counter. 

Arrived at Tatamidaira!

The trail is down these stairs. 

Yey!

Some nice views. 

The summit I went to. There's nothing here. 

But it has some views of the Norikura summit. 

Going back down. 

Going up to the summit. The steep section starts here. 

Rocky... and crowded. 

Summit! Oh, wait, no. 

That's the summit!

Almost there!

aaaand I was stuck in the line. 

So I flew my drone!

The summit marker and the torii. 

Going back down. 

A fork to another summit. With zero visibility, I decided to skip it and just backtrail to the bus stop. 

The looooong line for the bus. 

Enjoying the view in my bus ride. 

Another looooooong line to the train. Sigh. 

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