Mount Ontake is one of the most famous hiking locations near Nagano. It is the 14th highest mountains and one of the most active volcanoes of Japan. Mount Ontake is having a height of 3067meters. Unfortunately, without any warnings, it erupted very recently on Sep 27, 2014 causing the death of many of the hikers who went there for a weekend hiking.
Apart from a hiking site, this mountain is a pilgrimage area especially for the yamabushi(the mountain priests). Shrines, statues and monuments are situated at the very top of the mountain. We could see the pilgrims in white kimonos climbing the mountain.
The volcano which has a possibility of getting erupted anytime was worshipped as a god from the ancient times itself. Many people hikes to this mountain with the sole purpose for worship.
The ten different destination stations present in this mountain can be reached either through the many hiking trails and there is a ropeway to reach up to the seventh station of the mountain top. The ropeway costs 1300 yen for a single way and for the roundtrip it is 2400 yen. The most popular ay chosen by the visitors is from the Tanohara up to where the bus and automobiles could reach.
From there, the way begins through a torii gate. The ropeway is located at the Kurosawa guchi. Otaki guchi is another route through which you could access up to the sixth station. Some climbers usually select the tramping path Kaida guchi hile some others opt the Nigorigo guchi.
There are small and big statues all over the way to the mountain top. There are five beautiful crator lakes on this mountain named as the ichi no ike, ni no ike, san no ike, shi no ike and go no ike. They all are having glittering water in greenish blue colour. The most beautiful among them are the second and third ones which are exactly bluish coloured. The ater of the third lake is believed more sacred by the pilgrims. The panoramic view from different part of this mountain is really breathtaking. It is said that the ni no ike is the biggest mountain lake of Japan.
There are a lot of places all around the way up to the mountaintop for resting. On the way, we could see the fuming volcano around us. There will be a number of hikers and pilgrims around us which make the trail easier without losing your way.
There is a hut located at the sixth station for resting. Some huts are located near the second lake which ill be open from July to September only. On reaching the very topmost point of the mountain called Ken ga mine, there are torii gates and a shrine which the destination place of the pilgrims who climb all the way up to here with religious beliefs and anxiety.
The spectacular view from this point is really worthy as we could see the surrounding panoramic view along with the fantastic appearance o the ni no ike and the statues and shrine located here. There we could feel a rotten smell of the volcanic fumes as the wind blows alongside. There are souvenir shops and food stalls located at the top.
It could be noticed that the same things are having slightly different prices at the top. As we hike upwards, the price also hikes. So it is a better idea to take essentials with you if you are physically able to carry some weight with you. On the way back, we may enjoy a bath at the Nigorigo Onsen located in a beautiful natural forest area.