The sacred Mount Tsukuba locates in Ibaraki prefecture in the Kanto region of Japan. It measures 877 meters high, and is made up of two peaks, Nantaisan (男体山) and Nyotaisan (女体山). It is nicknamed the “Purple Mountain” (紫峰), as the peak looks purple when hit by the sunset.
The lake at the bed of the mountain, Hokujo-oike (北条大池), joins Mount Tsukuba to create stunning scenery. The climbing courses vary drastically in level, so beginners and trekking lovers can both enjoy their time here. There are even ropeways and cable cars to carry you up to the peak.
Here is your guide to Mount Tsukuba's hiking courses, popular to mountaineers of all levels!
There are six different hiking courses to choose from when climbing up Mount Tsukuba. The courses vary in length, area, elevation and peak (Nantaisan or Nyotaisan or both). Here are brief summaries of each course:
1. Miyukigahara Course - 御幸ヶ原コース
The Miyukigahara Course measures approximately 2 kilometers long and climbs up 610 meters high on the Nantaisan. The route essentially follows the cable car route, and directly goes up the mountain. Due to the slope and the elevation, this is the more difficult of the six courses.
2. Mukaeba Course - 迎場コース
The Mukaeba Course is 1.6 kilometers long and doesn’t go to the peak of the Nyotaisan, and during the entire hike there will only be 190 meters of altitude difference. This course meets with the Shirakumobashi Course at the Sakamukaeba intersection (酒迎場分岐), and from there you can head to the peak of Nyotaisan.
In terms of difficulty, this course is not too difficult as it isn’t as rocky as the other ones and the elevation is relatively low. The Mukaeba Course is also less crowded since it doesn’t directly connect to the peak, so for a long stroll on the mountain, choose this course!
3. Shirakumobashi Course - 白雲橋コース
This course climbs all the way up to the Nyotaisan Peak, measuring at 610 meters high and 2.8 kilometers long. This is the course that the Mukaeba Course connects to, mentioned above. Before connecting with the Mukaeba Course though, the Shirakumobashi course connects with Tsukuba Shrine.
This course takes in total a little over three hours to complete, making it one of the longer ones on the list. Though it does take longer, it is definitely worth the walk as the course is abundant in nature and the slope is not too intense.
4. Otatsuishi Course - おたつ石コース
For a shorter, quicker course, choose the Otatsuishi ourse. This course only measures 1 kilometer long from Tsutsujigaoka Station (ropeway) to Benkei-jaya (resting spot).
You can use the ropeway for getting to the course or to go back. If you do want to keep hiking to the top, keep walking, as this course also merges into the Shirakumobashi Course to reach the peak of Nyotaisan.
5. Shizenkenkyu-ro - 自然研究路
This course circles the peak of Nantaisan, and is a 1.5 kilometer circular route. From the observatory located on the course, you can get a great view of the entire Kanto region. On sunny, clear days, you might even see Mount Fuji!
6. Sanchorenraku-ro - 山頂連絡路
This course ties together the peaks of Nantaisan and Nyotaisan. It starts at both peaks, merges at Miyukigahara, and ends at both peaks. You can find lots of nature on this course, including azaleas and trout lilies.
Sights to see at Mount Tsukuba
Nature at Mount Tsukuba
Mount Tsukuba is home to a plethora of species of plants and animals, and shows a different look every season. Summer is a great season to enjoy the lush greens and hike the mountain, while fall is enjoyable for the fall foliage. Spring brings beautiful cherry blossoms, and Mount Tsukuba is especially photogenic in the winter with the snow capping the peaks.
There are over 100 species of plants on Mount Tsukuba, and where you can find them vary according to the altitude levels. At the top of the mountain are beeches, and Japanese evergreen oak dominate the midway area. Towards the bottom of the mountain are mainly cedars.
Tsukubasan Shrine − 筑波山神社
Tsukubasan Shrine sits atop of Mount Tsukuba. The shrine has a history of over 3000 years, and since the mountain had been seen as a sacred place throughout history. Though the main halls are at the foot of the mountain, there are smaller shrines at both peaks.
Tsukubasan Shrine on Mount Tsukuba
Tsukubasan Cable Car and Ropeway
The cable car runs between Miyawaki Station (宮脇駅), at 305 meters high, and goes to Tsukubasancho Station (筑波山頂駅). From Tsukubasancho Station, you can hike up to both peaks, Nyotaisan and Nantaisan. The 8-minute cable car ride comes with an incredible view, especially during the fall when the leaves change color.
Tsukubasan Cable Car
・ General: ¥580 one way, ¥1050 round trip
・ Children: ¥290 one way, ¥530 round trip
The ropeway runs between Tsutsujigaoka Station (つつじヶ丘駅) and Nyotaisan Station (女体山駅). The 6-minute ride is beautiful as well, with Lake Kasumigaura and the Pacific Ocean in sight.
・ General: ¥620 one way, ¥1100 round trip
・ Children: ¥310 one way, ¥550 round trip
Tsukubasan Ropeway Stardust Cruising (Sept. – Feb.)
During the autumn and winter months, Tsukubasancho Station is lit up with over 10,000 LED lights during the evening. Enjoy the illumination and the panoramic view of the Kanto region during these months! Check online for irregular closed days.
Tsukubasan Plum Festival – 筑波山梅まつり (Feb. – March)
Plum Trees at Mount Tsukuba
Spend a lovely early spring day at Tsukubasan right under the plum trees! Over 30 species of 1000 plum trees are planted throughout Mount Tsukuba’s mountainside. The pink blossoms are beautiful on the mountain, as they contrast the sharp rocky surface.
Changing of the Throne Festival- Ozagawari Festival (Apr. and Nov.)
The Ozagawari is Tsukuba Shrine's main festival, which takes place every April and November. This festival got its name because it is the combination of three other festivals. The entrance fee is free and you will be able to view the Shin-kyo bridge, which is usually not opened to the public.
Nearest Station: Tsukubasanguchi Bus Terminal 筑波山口
From Akihabara Station 秋葉原駅
Take the Tsukubasan Shuttle Bus
→【Tsukubasan-jinja-iriguchi bus station】or【Tusujigaoka bus station】
Tsukubasan, Tsukuba-shi, Ibaraki