Capture the essence of the great outdoors
Last updated: December 21, 2020
Hiking in Gunma means exploring beautiful natural landscapes on some of Japan’s best mountain trails. Many of the prefecture’s mountains are located in national parks, and their peaks offer spectacular views—including of the Japanese Alps and even Mt. Fuji.
And Gunma’s ubiquitous onsen mean there is an hot spring bath in the foothills to relax in after a day outdoors.
There are hiking opportunities for all levels and tastes, from family-friendly walks and moderate hikes to strenuous treks and challenging climbs. Here are Gunma’s top five.
Mt. Akagi, with its range of peaks, marshes, and lakes, is a symbol of Gunma. This hub of outdoor activities is easy to access from Tokyo, Takasaki, or downtown Maebashi. Mt. Akagi offers moderate-level hiking routes, campgrounds, and a visitor center high up the mountain's western slope detailing the area’s flora and fauna.
A popular hike is a loop that starts near the Akagi Visitor Center and Lake Onuma. Beginning from Mt. Kurobi Trailhead, the path goes up Mt. Akagi’s highest peak, Mt. Kurobi (1,828 m), and descends via Mt. Komagatake (1,685 m), taking about four hours in total to complete. You will see beautiful Lake Onuma from various vantage points on the trail, and Mt. Tanigawa and Mt. Nikko-Shirane from the lookout near the summit.
Ozegahara is an expansive highland marsh in the remote reaches of northeastern Gunma. This protected area within Oze National Park is known for its network of hiking paths and endemic plant and animal species. Experience spectacular views of Ozegahara Plateau, Ozenuma Pond, and seasonal flowers and plants, all with commanding Mt. Hiuchi (2,356 m) and Mt. Shibutsu (2,228 m) in the background. A few mountain huts provide overnight accommodation.
Hatomachitoge and Oshimizu are the area’s two most popular trailheads. Walking from one end to the other takes around eight to ten hours along flat, wooden boardwalks designed to protect Oze’s delicate ecosystem. The pretty white flowers of Asian skunk cabbage attract visitors from mid-May through to mid-June after the snow melts, and yellow-orange dwarf daylilies bloom in July and early August. October is the height of the trekking season, when the grassland turns bright hues of red and yellow, surrounded by the colorful foliage of the mountains.
Mt. Tanigawa stands regally over the hot spring village of Minakami in northern Gunma, drawing climbers from far and wide for its rugged peaks and spectacular vistas. Hiking Mt. Tanigawa is especially popular in autumn for its slopes covered in beautiful foliage, with convenient access to the summit trail from Tanigawadake Ropeway’s top station at 1,319 meters.
The trail from the ropeway station to the summit (1,977 m) is steep and rocky at times, so stamina and sturdy shoes are required. The round-trip hike to the peak and back to the ropeway takes around four to five hours. On clear days, hikers are rewarded with 360-degree views of Gunma and Niigata prefectures’ mountain ranges, the Northern Japanese Alps, and, in the distance, Mt. Fuji. The hiking season lasts from July to November.
The craggy pinnacles of Mt. Myogi stand tall over the cities of Annaka and Tomioka in southwestern Gunma. Its highest peak, Mt. Soma, measures 1,104 meters. Mt. Myogi has many hiking routes of varying degrees, from easy walks on the lower slopes and foothills to expert-level climbing on steep rock faces and narrow knife-ridges. The area is extremely popular in spring for cherry blossom viewing and in fall for the colorful foliage, which contrasts beautifully with the rock formations.
Choose from the beginner, intermediate, and difficult hiking courses. A popular beginner-friendly walk starts at Myogi-jinja Shrine, passing through rock formations shaped like stone gates. If you opt for a more challenging route, be sure you have the technical skills to complete the climb and allow ample time to finish before dark. Steeper sections have chains and ladders.
Enjoy a family-friendly walk on a forested trail along the Agatsuma River in all seasons. Encounter cherry blossoms and azaleas in spring, lush greenery in summer, and fiery colors in autumn.
The 3.2 kilometer walking path begins near the Roadside Station at Agatsumakyo Gorge, offering views of interesting rock formations and waterfalls. Maple trees, sawtooth oaks, and red pines line the gorge—an especially stunning sight from late October to early November when the leaves change color. It takes about 70 minutes one-way to walk the trail at a leisurely pace.