TogakushiFebruary 21, 2017 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ -5 °C
Wow. How great was Togakushi!
We boarded the number 73 bus from outside Nagano Station (very easy to find, busses starting in 7 go from stop 7, busses starting in 6 go from platform 6 and so on - Brisbane could learn something from this). The bus took us north of Nagano up into the mountains which surround the city. The trip was scheduled to take an hour however was closer to two hours due to some traffic in Nagano and some cars sliding on the snowy roads up the mountains. Despite the delay, it was still an interesting ride seeing the countryside.
We managed to get off at the right stop (Togakushi-Chusha) which was right at the middle shrine and next to the Information Centre. The gentleman at the Information Centre was very helpful (despite his lack of English) and we were soon on our way.
Togakushi Shrine lies at the base of Mount Togakushi and consists of five shrines (Okusha, Chusha, Hokosha, Kuzuryusha and Hinomikosha). I had read about this sacred area and its amazing natural beauty. The five shrines are separated across a couple of kilometres of walking track and are steeped in a rich and mythical history.
There had been significant snowfalls recently and it snowed all day we were there. As a result of the snow we discovered that many of the walking tracks were impassable and as such we decided to make tracks along the roads. The roads were very quiet (probably passed no more than 10 cars all day) and we enjoyed a peaceful walk for a few kilometres (though we were a bit concerned whether or not we were going the right way at first).
We made our way along to the start of the walk to the fifth and uppermost shrine (Okusha Shrine). I had read a lot about the incredible walk to this shrine which is lined by 17th century majestic Cryptomeria trees. We gave it our best shot to get to this part of the walk however it soon became very difficult as we were sinking to knee deep snow every step. This made it exhausting and after about 500m we felt we had no choice but to turn around and go back.
Despite this, where we made it to was still beautiful and well worth the walk. We did pass a few people with snow shoes and on cross country skis, so next time we try in winter I think we will hire some gear to make the walk a bit easier.
There are ample walks to do in this area, including to the a Kagami Pond which is famous for the mirror like reflection it provides to Mount Togakushi. We passed a group who were making the trek to this pond. They seemed to have all the right gear and quite experienced.
I would definitely love to come back here again (in both warmer months and winter) and explore the area further. There are many pensions dotted around the area which would also be fantastic to stay at also.Read more