Mount Kitadake

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The 3,193-meter Mount Kita or Kitadake is Japan’s second highest mountain after Mount Fuji. Together with nearby Mount Ainodake (3,190m) and Mount Notoridake (3,026m) it comprises the Shiranesanzan group, referred to as the “leaders” of the Minami Alps. Kitadake, usually snowcapped from month to month, is the northernmost of the trio.

Kitadake is the most popular mountain for trekking in the Minami Alps. This is not to say the going is easy, however: the official Minami Alps Trekking Guide gives the routes here four out of four stars for difficulty. Summitting presents a serious challenge: in 1902, British missionary Walter Weston became the first non-Japanese climber to reach Kitadake’s peak.

Rich, unspoiled natural habitat is befitting of the mountain being part of the UNESCO-designated Minami-Alps Biosphere Reserve. Wildlife here includes the Japanese serow, stoat, and Japanese dormouse, while in the pure air above fly the ptarmigan and spotted nutcracker. Myriad wild flowers, including the arctic yellow violet (blooming June-July) and the Kamchatka lily (July) present hues from purple through to pink.

Due to a height that in ancient times was inaccessible, Kitadake lacks a shrine as constructed on many lesser mountains. Myth has it, however, that such a place of worship did once exist at the peak. Culturally, Kitadake has been eulogized in waka poetry dating back as far as the ninth century, and appears in the fourteenth-century epic The Tale of the Heike.

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Venue Address

Ashiyasu Ashikura, Minamialps-shi

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