Discovering the mountains of Japan… Among foreigners around Nagano, mostly Australians are coming to ski. And also the Chinese, the Taiwanese and the visitors from Hong-Kong or Singapore, who are reaching the summits to enjoy the snow they can’t appreciate at home for some of them. The Hida mountains, between Gifu, Nagano and Toyama prefectures, are one of the Heisei 100 landscapes. A massive Y-shaped mountains range in the middle of Honshu that belongs to the Japanese Alps.
For Nippon100, we did not really know from where to explore them. Because Hida mountains are a wide territory in between three prefectures. And are the heart of the Hida region, in a more traditional and rural Japan. A place where winters are long and difficult. And the area is famous nationwide for the Hida beef, one of the best along with Kobe’s.
The heart of Hida region is Takayama, a city whose name literally means « high mountains » in Japanese. And the more famous sight around are the thatched roofs of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama. Both places are also to be find in the 100 landscapes list we are following.
Our first encounter with the Hida mountains was during the Alpine road, which runs through them from Toyama to Nagano prefecture. The mountain range is called Japanese Alps since the 19th century, when the British William Gowland first observed similarities with the European Alps. Nowadays the name “Japanese Alps” covers not only the Hida mountains (thus called the Northern Japanese Alps) but also the Kiso and Akaishi mountains.
A convenient way to discover the Hida mountains from Gifu prefecture is the Shinhotaka ropeway in Okuhida, about one hour driving from Takayama. Another one-of-a-kind sight of Japan since the ropeway offers two-storied cabins (2900 yens r/t). It reaches 2150 m, a good point of view over the mountains and the departure of several hiking trails popular in summer (one of them reaching Kamikochi in Nagano prefecture, in about 2h30).
Okuhida is famous in Japan for its many large outdoor onsen offering views over the Hida mountains.
How to get there?
From Takayama, it tooks about ninety minutes by bus to Okuhida, through Hirayu onsen (2160 yens). We detailed here how to reach Takayama. About the Hida mountains, see also our articles about Matsumoto, the Alpen road, Shirakawa or Kanazawa.