This 18.5km+ hike to Mt. Tenguzuka* starts and finishes at the Iyashino Hotel and Onsen (いやしの温泉郷) near Nagoro-mura (名頃 aka the Doll Village) in the Iya Valley. The original plan was to hike to Mt. Tenguzuka via Mt. Miune (Day 1), camp at the Okame-iwa Shelter (おかめ岩避難小屋) near Tenguzuka (Day 1) before returning the next day to the onsen (Day 2). NOTE: Due to lack of time on the second day we didn’t end up reaching the summit of Tenguzuka. We did, however, spend the night at the Okame-iwa shelter nearby as planned.
Trailhead: We chose the Iyashino Hotel and Onsen (いやしの温泉郷) located in Higashiiyasugeoi, Miyoshi, Tokushima as our starting point however there is another (more popular) trailhead further along in Nagoro village. Access by car is advised although this is possible by bus. The roads are windy and narrow so plan extra time getting to the destination.
Supply point: Access to food stores in this area is very limited. It is advised you buy your food/supplies before you enter Iya Valley. You could try the 7/11 convenience store in Oboke or Oboke Supermarket.
Difficulty: Fitness (Grade 2: Moderate) Technical (Grade 1: Easy) – This hike is almost 20km return with the first section of the hike (to Miune) being quite steep. You will require moderate fitness especially if you are carrying overnight packs. There is one section of the track before Miune that has been eroded and would be quite dangerous if you fell.
Date/Season of Hike: Spring (April 9th) Group Size: 4
Please see Outdoor Club Japan’s Event Grading Page for more information
Hike time: Day 1: Onsen-Miune (4hrs 30min) Miune to Tenguzuka Hut (2hrs) Return (Day 2): 4-5 hours. From the cabin to the Tenguzuka peak is about 1 and a half hours return.
Post Hike Report
We started our drive to the Iya Valley around 9.30am. Leaving from Otoyo we headed past Oboke and on to the Iyashino Onsenkyo. We arrived at 11.45am. After packing our gear and taking a toilet break we started hiking just after 12.00 lunchtime *EDIT* As noted below. This was too late. If you want to make the cabin before dark with plenty of time you should start hiking no later than 11am, preferably earlier. Finding the start of the track was a little tricky. If you park in the main car park, simply walk south (uphill) up the road and turn left at the first house. The trail-head is just above the car park, maybe 50metres away. The signs are small and faded and the track doesn’t look very clear until you get right up close. Alternatively, you could ask the staff at the onsen for directions.
After starting the hike we passed an old farm-house. We quickly realised that this hike was going to be a tough one, as it immediately starts to get steep. The track continues winding up hill through the forest along the same rough path as the monorail (which you cross under about three times). Eventually, the monorail track stops and the annoying buzz of beetle themed monorail carts disappears.
We passed an old tin shack built 50 years ago and used by timber workers. Just past here is a small stream which is a good water source. From here the track got steeper and passed through some terrain which was a little dangerous. The track is very leafy and crumbly and if you fall of the side of the hill you might roll down it for 20 or 30 metres before stopping. Take your time and be careful and you’ll be fine. At this point we had already been hiking for around 2 and a half hours. Our pace was slow because we hadn’t done many steep hikes like this and our fitness was low. Eventually, we slogged it out and made it to the Miune cabin for a late lunch around 4.50pm. Just before the peak there is one more hurdle, a short but steep down and up section that will make you wish there was a shortcut across. The length and difficulty of the uphill section to Miune was definitely a surprise!
Once we finished eating we headed off towards Tenguzuka. The trail passes over the peak of Mt. Miune and we were walking into the sunset which was beautiful. The top of this mountain is really spectacular. Full of deer and birds and endless grass bush. After two hours and some more up and down hiking along the ridge we made it to the mountain hut around 6.50pm, just after sunset.
In hindsight, we’d have started hiking earlier at 10am. But things worked out fine. We arrived to the cabin to find the fire burning and a genki bunch of Japanese hikers already set up inside. “Wow, you’re late” they said, as they pointed us to the “top bunk”. The final climb up that tallllllll ladder was tough. We found a lot of sleeping foam mats already there at the hut (we could have saved some pack space) and the warm fireplace meant we didn’t need to bring the extra sleeping blankets that we carried. There was a nice water source 100m downhill.
The next day we woke at 6.30am and started hiking by 7. Determined to make better time, we returned to Mt. Miune by 8.30am, cutting half an hour off our initial time. We ate a small lunch before heading down the mountain. We left the top around 9.10am. We though we’d be back around 12.15am, but actually managed to get down a lot faster than expected. We returned to the carpark and onsen by 11.30am and immediately headed to the onsen (500Y) for a much needed beer and bath.
- Iyashino Hotel/Onsen Website – http://iyashino-onsenkyo.com/
- Miune, Tenguzuka and other nearby mountain huts – http://ryousen.jp/sanrei/hutte.html
- Trail information (Japanese) – http://www.yamakei-online.com/yamanavi/yama.php?yama_id=912
Miune-Tenguzuka Hike Blog (English) – http://demo.inktails.com/2012/08/traverse-miune-to-tenguzuka/