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Tue, Feb. 7, 2017 Ogawayama: A Rock Climber's Paradise
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Ogawayama (Mount Ogawa) is known as a "rock climber's paradise." Located near Kawakami Village in Nagano Prefecture, it takes about three hours to reach from Tokyo by car. The mountain is popular for having climbing spots located near its main base. The closest is only minutes away, while the farthest is only about an hour's walk.
On this edition of Journeys in Japan we introduce the appeal of Ogawayama rock climbing, including bouldering. Our reporter Cveto Podlogar takes on the longest climbing route of Ogawayama, called "Eboshi Iwa Sa Ryosen." The route affords the thrill of heights and magnificent views along the way. After much climbing, Cveto enjoys creature comforts-he's glamping, Japanese-style.

Eboshi Iwa Sa Ryosen
Eboshi Iwa Sa Ryosen
This is the longest rock-climbing route on Ogawayama, consisting of 15 to 20 pitches. From the Mawarime Daira base, climbers can reach the route's entrance in about 30 minutes. Although long, this is not a particularly difficult route, as its grade measures 5.8 at the highest. Climbers can enjoy a variety of climbing techniques, with faces, ridges, cracks, abseils, and chimneys.
Ogawayama Layback
Ogawayama Layback
Ogawayama Layback is a huge crack running vertically on Oyayubi Iwa or "thumb rock." It's about 10 minutes on foot from Mawarime Daira, which is the gateway to Ogawayama rock climbing. Ogawayama Layback is very popular among rock climbers, as it provides a wonderful place to practice techniques for tackling cracks. On the opposite side of Oyayubi Iwa is another popular practice site, called "Crazy Jam."
Ogawayama, with its enormous rocks, is also a popular destination for bouldering fans. This increasingly popular style of climbing-where people climb up several-meter-high boulders-is characterized by the non-use of protective gear, except for bouldering shoes and mats. The sport, originally a rock-climbing practice method, has become so popular that it has been approved for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The term "glamping" is coined from the words, "glamorous" and "camping." Glamping outfitters arrange everything for guests. They set up camp tents and the mess tent, organize food provisions, prepare meals and arrange transportation.
Inquiry: Awesome Barbeque (Takateru Fujiwara) Tel: +81-80-4095-1103
Farmers' Market
Farmers' Market
Inquiry: Marche Kawakami Tel: +81-267-78-3250
Shinshu Beef Shop
Shinshu Beef Shop
Inquiry: Chikumaya Tel: +81-267-92-2343
Climbing Gym
Climbing Gym
This indoor gym-located near Mawarime Daira-has facilities for bouldering and lead climbing.
Inquiry: Iwane Sanso Tel: +31-267-99-2200
Mawarime Daira
Mawarime Daira
This area serves as a base for climbers. It has a parking lot, campground, and hostel.
Inquiry: Kimpu Sanso Tel: +81-267-99-2428
The Mawarime Daira campground is the base for Ogawayama climbing.
To reach it from Tokyo, take the JR Chuo Line to Kobuchizawa Station.
From there, change to the Koumi Line for Shinano Kawakami Station and hop in a taxi.
Travel Log

Traveler: Cveto Podologar > More Info


Occupation:UAIGM International guide

Length of residence in Japan:26 years

By Trans-Siberian railway to China; spent 6 months in Tibet; then came to Japan and made a journey all over Honshu Island by bicycle; interviewed by Yamagata NHK at the time; met Chiharu-san (partner)... and stayed!!

Traveler's Archives:

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> Mt. Hotaka: Climbing to the roof of Japan

On this climbing tour of Ogawayama for Journeys in Japan, we were really the Team! The conditions were harsh, we didn't expect that...and that made the challenge even greater. I was not simply a guide in charge of the group safety, but just a link in the teamwork chain. Without a great team any challenge on a mountain is not viable.
The start was comfortable: warm weather, dry rock, and just one pitch; though a slight challenge for our director Ichino, who I was guiding. But he made it-and enjoyed it?! And then we moved onto the crack climbing on the "Ogawayama lay back" route, which involved different styles and challenges-and was much harder...But we forgot it all by evening beside the campfire, where we shared a delicious BBQ and wine with climbers from many countries who are based in China.

Next morning, the big finale day... Shock...everything was white, covered with ice and snow.
It was a big challenge for me to decide; go or not to go...the route at Eboshi Iwa has 16 pitches and there is almost no escape line to bring you safely down to the valley.
We went ahead and made it. And I can proudly say we were the team of heroes!
From the viewpoint of high level climbers, it may have seemed not a big deal, but for a newcomer like director Ichino he used all his power, courage and talent to reach the top.

Ogawayama is my favorite free climbing playground in Japan with free style camping,
different styles of climbing (face, crack, multi-pitch, bouldering), safety and close walking distance to the rocks, as well as an easy drive from Tokyo.
A true climbing paradiseā€¦So for your worldwide climbing tour list, I definitely recommend Ogawayama.

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