A beautiful rock formation at the top (Photo: Malcome Larcens)

Climbing Mount Himekami

One of the top 3 mountains of Iwate

A beautiful rock formation at the top (Photo: Malcome Larcens)
Malcome Larcens   - 3 min read

Mount Himekami is located about 15-20 kilometers north of Morioka and is easily accessible in about 30 minutes by car. This was my first time up there, I wonder why I waited so long to explore this great gem. It provides one of the best views around Morioka. It's the perfect spot to admire the beauty of Mount Iwate and the surrounding area.

Mount Himekami is easily visible from Morioka. We can see that it's not a steep mountain unlike Mount Iwate or Mount Hayachine, the other more popular mountains in Iwate. There are 4 climbing paths to get to the top. We took the one called ipponsugi,(一本杉)or the lone cedar. It's probably the most popular trail to take. Even though the cedar isn't a single tree, it's called the lone cedar because of its size. It's probably 2 meters in diameter so it really stands out among the other cedars on the slopes.

The climb starts gently in an open meadow with picnic tables. It soon enters the forest and remains covered until the 9th station near the top. To help stabilize the path, they have built some steps making the climb easier. We counted over 600 of them. Since most of the climb is under a canopy of trees, it's nice and cool to walk. It makes for a very pleasant journey to the top. We encountered many wild plants and flowers. I recognized wild raspberries and Chinese peppers (sansho) among others. There were many that I didn't know and neither did Google lens.

After we finished climbing the steps, the path was made mostly of granite rocks of various sizes. You will find some easy to step on and others not so easy. Once we reached the 9th station, we got to our first lookout spot. We looked directly at Mount Iwate and Hachimantai City. We were lucky that it wasn't cloudy as it rained later in the afternoon after we got back home.

I would estimate the time to hike between one-and-a-half to two hours to reach the top. It's not a very difficult mountain to hike. If you start early, you can get back before lunch. We started late and enjoyed our lunch at the top with a splendid view while sitting on granite slabs. Everything tasted so much better on top of the mountain. On the west side, you can see Mount Iwate and Hachimantai City. On the south side, we can see Morioka, the capital of Iwate. If you look east, you can see some parts of Lake Gando. Lake Gando is the coldest spot in all of Japan; yes, even colder than Hokkaido. It gets to -20 degrees Celsius or colder every winter. You can go ice fishing in winter for wakasagi (ワカサギ), it's a kind of smelt.

Overall, it's a good leisurely walk and a good adventure for the whole family. If you're a little more adventurous, you can hike it in winter as well. The mountain is accessible all year round.

Getting there

The only way to get there is by car, if you're coming by the Tohoku expressway, take the Takizawa exit and head north on Route 4

After about 3 kilometers, you'll cross a bridge, that's the Kitakami River, about 1 kilometer further, take the left turn off. There's a pull out area on the right,

Go about 500 meters to a traffic light turn right, it's R301, go to the next traffic light, about 1 kilometer, you'll see a Daily Yamazaki convenience store on the right.

Turn right and go up the hill, it. From there, it's about 3-4 kilometers up the hill. You'll see some signs to the trail head and parking area. Look for the ipponsugi trail.

It's a little difficult to find since there's hardly any signage, if you stay on R4, you can't access the road to Mt. Himekami, that's why you take a turn off just before the access road.

Malcome Larcens

Malcome Larcens @malcome.larcens

I grew up in Quebec, Canada and studied electronics in college, never worked in that field. Moved to Vancouver in the early 80's where I found my real passion, cooking. I ran my own restaurant for 14 years after that worked as a financial advisor for 4 years, I really enjoyed that too but we had ...