So lace up your hiking boots and make your way to Tsuru! Climb a mountain and be rewarded with a stunning view of Mt. Fuji—some say it’s a better way to enjoy the mountain instead of climbing it—or spend the day exploring the picturesque Shishidome Valley.
Nothing beats exercising in the great outdoors and if hiking is your thing, then Tsuru has you covered! The area offers 21—that’s right, 21!—peaks to climb. The city even has its own low-elevation mountain range, the Tsuru Alps, with well-marked trails for hiking. And the Shishidome Valley is a great place to enjoy the fresh air while strolling along the river.
Climbing mountains in the winter presents several additional dangers, so always make thorough preparations, e.g., checking the latest weather report, have the right gear, and submit your climbing plan to the police (or you can use the climbing postboxes usually found at trailheads). Also, some routes may be closed due to blockage, etc., so check the course you wish to take ahead of time.
With 21 peaks in the area, avid mountain climbers have the pick of the litter and almost half are on the Yamanashi Top 100 Summits list.
While there are many well suited to beginners and close to train stations like Mt. Shiroyama (571 m) and Mt. Kukiyama (970 m), the most prominent peak—and a climb meant for experienced hikers—is to Mitsu Pass at 1,785 meters, where you’re treated to a first-class unobstructed view of Mt. Fuji.
Some are rich in history like Mt. Mishotai, which was long revered as a holy mountain like Mt. Fuji. And some have interesting backstories like Mt. Nijurokuya (lit. “26 nights), which used to be where people gathered with food and drink on July 26 and new years day—by the lunar calendar—in the Edo and Meiji periods (1603–1912) and waited for the moon to emerge.
While all of the peaks promise splendid views of the surrounding area, access to the trailhead of some may require a car.
Tsuru Alps Hiking Route
The eastern side of Tsuru’s city proper is surrounded by hills and mountains of elevations varying between 500 and 650 meters, and in 2017, a series of clearly marked hiking trails were completed and the route christened the “Tsuru Alps.”
The full trail from start to finish is about 8 kilometers long and runs from the trailhead at the Yamura (Fukada) Power Station near Tsurushi Station all the way to Sumiyoshi Shrine near Higashi-Katsura Station.
Three courses are available, offering enthusiasts choices to fit their schedule and desired hike: the 3-hour Family Course, the 4-hour General Course, and the 5.5-hour all-out Gattsuri Course.
Each course has spots to take breaks, snap photos, and spots for bathroom breaks. Of course, there are numerous spots to cut your hike short—all marked—so you can tailor your hike to the time (or energy) you have available.
A tributary of the Katsura River, which winds through downtown Tsuru, the Shishidome River has shaped the landscape over the centuries to form the Shishidome Valley, Tsuru’s top draw for nature lovers.
About a 10-minute taxi ride from Higashi-Katsura station, the pathways along the valley are dotted with spots to take a break and simply take in the wonderful views and the quiet sounds of nature, offering a calming alternative to the crowds and lights of Tokyo.
In the summer, the sunlight paints the leaves a beautiful green while in the fall (mid-October to mid-November), the leaves are transformed into a brilliant tapestry of color.
And with every season offering a different character, it’s a destination you’ll want to visit again and again.