Kamuinupuri (Mashu-dake) Hiking

カムイヌプリ(摩周岳) | Kamuinupuri

Posted on Apr 17, 2020
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Posted on Apr 17, 2020

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Reading time: 2 min

14km

Distance

5.5hrs

Time

539m

Ascent

857m

Highest point

4/10

Difficulty

Best season icon (Hokkaido Wilds)
May-Nov

Best season

Kamuinupuri (カムイヌプリ, 857m, also known as Mashu-dake 摩周岳) lies on a jagged ridge forming the east rim of the much photographed caldera lake of Mashu-ko (摩周湖), one of the iconic scenes of Hokkaido. It can be easily climbed by a trail that follows the rim of this spectacular lake through meadows of flowers before climbing steeply up a narrowing ridge. The airy summit gives dramatic views of the lake and a secondary volcanic crater on one side and the broad rolling vistas typical of Hokkaido’s far east on the other. The lake is famous for often being covered in mist so try to pick a fine day!

We visited this route on Aug 12, 2012

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

Kamuinupuri is the peak beside the crater lake of Mashu-ko, in eastern Hokkaido to the north of the small town of Teshikaga 弟子屈. The trailhead (here) is at the popular No.1 Viewpoint 第一展望台 (facilities and toilets, 546m) above the lake on local Route 52 out of Teshikaga.

General notes

Kamuy is the Ainu word commonly translated as god or spirit in English, though these concepts are understood a little differently in the animistic religion of the Ainu people. Nupuri is one of the Ainu terms for mountain. The origin of Mashu may lie in the image of shadows across the cauldron-like lake (Hokkaido Natsuyama Gaido 6, p. 78). The summer hiking season is from May into November. There is no hut on this route, though it would be straightforward to continue on to and over Nishibetsu-dake from the trail junction and stay in the Nishibetsu Hut at the trailhead there.

Route Timing
Up | 3hrs
Down | 2.5hrs
Route

The trail starts at the south end of the car park at the trailhead here, and is well defined and signposted. The first section follows the gently undulating ridge that forms the southern rim of the caldera and is lined with sasa dwarf bamboo and wildflowers in spring and early summer. It bends round to the north to meet a junction with the trail leading to Nishibetsu-dake 西別岳 (see the Nishibetsu-dake hiking route details here) on the right after a couple of hours or so. Continue straight on to climb more steeply up a narrowing ridge next to a secondary crater on your left, reaching the summit in another hour or less. The summit itself is narrow and airy with steep drops down into the crater. Return the same way.

Transport

Public transport:

Between April and November (as of 2019) Akan Bus Company (TEL: 0154-37-2221) runs a service to No.1 Viewpoint 第一展望台 (here) leaving Mashu Station (Teshikaga, here) at 10:30 but as the last return is at 14:10 this only gives enough time to get part way around the lake.

By car: 

Take local Route 52 northeast out of Teshikaga for about 10km to the large car park at the No.1 Viewpoint 第一展望台, here. In high season this can be very busy and charges may apply.

Hut(s)

None

Physical maps
GSI Topo Map: Mashukonanbu (摩周湖南部) – map no. NK-55-31-7-4

NOTE: The GSI 1/25000 topo map(s) above can be purchased for 350yen each from Kinokuniya bookstore next to Sapporo Station or online (in Japanese).

route safety

Although this route is relatively short, the usual caveats about appropriate bad weather gear apply. The caldera rim is exposed to the wind and renowned for misty conditions. The summit itself has a sheer drop off one side and is loose underfoot near the edge. The usual bear precautions should be taken.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Kamuinupuri (Mashu-dake)

Onsen nearby

There are many onsen in the nearby town of Kawayu 川湯, and along the shores of nearby Lake Kussharo 屈斜路湖. One favourite onsen on the Lake Kussharo lakefront is the (very public) open-air hotpool at the Kotan township, here.

Extra Resources

Hokkaido Natsuyama Gaido 6, 北海道夏山ガイド 6 道東・道北・増毛の山々 (Hokkaido Shimbunsha), in Japanese. These guides are updated every few years.

Guide Options

If you’d like to hike this route and/or explore other areas of central Hokkaido with a local certified guide, then contact Jun Ishiguro. He’s a JMGA (Japan Mountain Guides Association) mountain guide on the board of directors of the Hokkaido Mountain Guides Association (HMGA). As a senior figure in the Hokkaido guiding scene, and with extensive experience, he can tailor trips to your needs. See a full list of English-speaking Hokkaido Mountain Guides Association (HMGA) guides on the HMGA website here

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

Although the lake and mountain have been a very familiar sight to me for over 30 years as my wife’s family home is only a few kilometers away, it was not until a visit with Leon and Matt on an extended road trip that I finally got round to climbing it. The car park was busy as usual with coaches and tourists lining up for their selfies in front of one of Hokkaido’s most famous sights, so we quickly pulled on our boots and set off. We soon left the crowds behind. It was a sunny day and we thoroughly enjoyed the gentle stroll around the lake rim, then the climb through the birch forest up the ridge that finally spat us out on the rocky summit, the steep drops and jagged eroded ridges providing a stark contrast to the earlier easy ramble. A few alpine flowers bloomed in the rocky soil, clinging to the rim of the sheer drop into the secondary crater. Eastern Hokkaido with its lakes, volcanoes and rolling agricultural and pastoral landscapes spread out all around us. Although the view of the lake from the summit did not have the symmetric beauty one sees from the tourist viewpoint, it was, we agreed, a much better place to be.

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Kamuinupuri (Mashu-dake) Hiking Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

C

30

Time ascending

C

3

Technicality

Altitude

C

3

Hazards

D

Navigation

D

Totals

36/100

GRADES range from A (very difficult) to D (easy). Hazards include exposure to avalanche and fall risk. More details here. Rating rubric adapted from Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook 北海道雪山ガイド.