2000m-2500m, 2020, Iwate, Japan 100, Japan Ultra, Local Fuji, Tohoku 100, Vulkane

Iwate-san / 岩手山

Der Iwate-san 岩手山 (oder auch Iwate-Fuji 岩手富士/Nanbu-Fuji 南部富士/Nanbukata-Fuji 南部片富士 genannt) ist ein imposanter Schichtvulkan, der ueber die Stadt Morioka wacht. Als relativ freistehender Vulkan und mit ueber 2000m Hoehe gehoert er auch zu den 21 Ultras in Japan. Ultras sind solche Berge/Vulkane, die eine topographische Prominenz von 1500 oder mehr haben, also solche die sich sehr stark in der Landschaft hervorheben. Der Anstieg ist nicht allzuschwer, aber sehr lange, da man von relativ weit unten anfaengt. Oben angekommen wird man jedoch mit der Marsaehnlichen Landschaft eines sehr schoenen Vulkankraters belohnt.

Iwate-san is one of Japan’s 21 Ultras and shares the same name the northern Japanese prefecture in where it is located. Iwate-san is located not far from the city of Morioka (the capital of Iwate prefecture) and due to its ultra prominent peak, can be seen from almost anywhere in the region. It is a majestic active volcano that watches over Morioka and the region. Iwate-san is also included in the list of 100 famous mountains compiled by mountaineer Kyuya Fukuda in 1964.

The hike can be approach by several trails outlined below. While all the trails lead to the summit in the end, there are a variety of reasons for people choosing a certain route. The Umagaeshi route is by far the most popular. Near the start of the Yakehashiri route, there is an impressing wide field of lava rock to be visited, and the Amihari route is the longest route that also starts and ends right at an Onsen area. When we approached the mountain in August 2020, we chose the Omisaka route, which starts at the Omisaka parking lot in the south. This route, while not being the most known, I felt it was a good choice since there were not many climbers on this path (I think I saw about a handful the whole time (except for when we reached the summit, of course) .This post and its description therefore focuses on the Omikasa-route.

NoRoute NameルートTime
(ascend only)
1Umagaeshi-Route馬返しコース~ 4.5hMost popular route
2Yakehashiri-Route焼走りコース~ 5hStarts at a large lava field
3Uwabo-Route上坊コース~ 4hStarts at a shrine
4Nanataki-Route七滝コース~ 6h
5Matsukawa-Route松川コース~ 6h+
6Amihari-Route網張コース~ 6h+Longest route,
starts at Amihara-Onsen
7Omisaka-Route御神坂コース~ 4.5h+

The 6 hiking routes to the summit of Iwate-san.

At the Omisaka parking lot there is a small toilet house, although it did not have any light nor did it provide running water when I went there. From the Omisaka parking lot, head straight to the entrance. The path will lead about 30 or so minutes through the forest until crossing a larger pathway in the forest. Follow this pathway to the right and after 10 minutes or so, the trail continues onto the direction of the mountain to the left. The next passage leads through the thick forest and is a very easy and gentle increase in elevation. After about 2 hours, you arrive at a sign post with a map and from there, the trail is going to get much steeper and there are some passages where ropes help you navigate through the rocks and a bit more difficult parts. At some point later, you should be out of the forest and climb the rest of the trail with nice view into the land (on clear days). Once arrived on what looks like the top, there is a signpost that shows the way to the actual summit of the mountain. Follow the sign and the trail leads back down first and will eventual arrive at the emergency mountain hut. From there, it is only a short climb up the actual crater of Iwate-san. Once arrived on the crater, you can go around it until you reach the highest point of the mountain. (going clock-wise is faster to the summit, but you can circle the whole crater in about an hour or a bit less, so it does not really matter which way to go). There is also a path that leads into the crater, where there is a small shrine. Worth a visit and not that far to get from the main trail. From the crater, you can decide to go down any of the routes described above, or go back the way you came from (in case you came by car etc.).

All in all, Iwate-san is a magnificent mountain. As an active volcano, it also provides rich volcanic landscape and flora. The hike itself, while taking about 8h overall return (depending on the route and your condition), is not too difficult.