Memuro-dake Day Hike

芽室岳 | Mem-or-pet

Posted on Jul 19, 2023

Posted on Jul 19, 2023

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Highest point



Best season icon (Hokkaido Wilds)
June – October

Best season





Memuro-dake (芽室岳, 1754m) is one of the most often climbed of the higher Hidaka mountains given its easy access from the Tokachi side of the range. It's a straightforward up and down hike, steep in places, but with a pleasant high altitude summit ridge and widespread views over both the mountain range and the fertile agricultural plains to the east.

We visited this route on Jun 25, 2023


Route Map

Need to know details


Memuro-dake sits near the northen end of the Hidaka mountain range in south central Hokkaido. The trailhead is accessed from the east near the small town of Shimizu, 30km from the city of Obihiro.

General notes

This is a popular mountain due to its easy access from the Obihiro side of the range. The road to the trailhead was destroyed in the 2016 floods but has since been repaired. There used to be a mountain hut at the trailhead but sadly this was also destroyed in 2016. The name Memuro-dake comes from the Ainu language, mem-or-pet, river that flows from the spring-fed pool.

Route Timing
Up | 3.5hrs
Down | 2.5hrs

The above times are approximate, will vary with route conditions and fitness, and do not include breaks. Sites such as indicate 3h 45m up and 2h 50m down.


The route is clearly defined and in generally good condition underfoot. From the trailhead carpark at 614m look for pink tape to guide you across the river and through the scrub that is growing back since the 2016 floods, then pick up the main trail on the other side. This crossing could be tricky after rain. From here the trail goes relentlessly up a spur to the main ridge 1000m above in 2.5 – 3 hours. The lower part is through an area of akaezomatsu pine plantation and sasa before transitioning to todomatsu pines then mountain birch forest higher up. Around the halfway mark there is a pleasant flatter section before it steepens considerably to join the main ridge at a small knoll. Here the main trail turns left, skirts below the knoll and soon joins the ridge proper among haimatsu creeping pines. The summit is visible from here and will be reached in another 20 mins or so. Return the same way. If you have enough time, from the trail junction below the knoll another path takes you left to the neighbouring summit of Pankenushi-dake (パンケヌーシ岳, 1746m) on a rough trail. Allow at least another hour out and back.


Public transport:

There is no public transport to the trailhead. It might be possible to get a taxi for the 15km ride from Mikage JR station (御影駅).

By car: 

It is necessary to navigate the farm roads west of the rural hamlet of Mikage (御影) near Shimizu Town (清水町). Luckily, as you get closer there are signs pointing you to the trailhead (芽室岳登山口). The paved road eventually runs out in an open area of pasture before entering the forest and turning into a gravel road, repaired since the 2016 floods, that leads to the large open car park at the trailhead. There are a couple of gates on the road which may be closed but they are not locked, please leave them as you find them.




Physical maps
GSI Topo Map: Memuro-dake (芽室岳) – map no. NK-54-8-3-4

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

This is a relatively high mountain with an open summit ridge that is exposed to the wind. It is likely to be much cooler than down at the trailhead so carry appropriate waterproof and warm layers to avoid the risk of hypothermia. The river crossing at the trailhead is likely to be tricky and potentially dangerous after heavy rain. The Hidaka mountains are most definitely bear country so take the necessary precautions.

Weather forecast weather forecast for Memuro-dake

Onsen nearby

Unfortunately, there are no convenient onsen nearby. For a very local peek into the bathing lives of small-town Tokachi, consider visiting the Shimizu Village public baths 清水町役場 町営公衆浴場 (location, 480yen), just next to the Tokachi-Shimizu JR train station. In addition to indoor baths, there’s also a sauna and cold plunge pool.

Extra Resources

In Japanese: Hokkaido Natsuyama Gaido 4, Hidaka Sanmyaku no yamayama (北海道夏山ガイド 4, 日高山脈の山々), Hokkaido Shimbunsha, 2020. These guides are updated every few years.

Guide Options

If you’d like to hike this route and/or explore other hikes in the central Hokkaido area together with a local certified guide, get in touch with Yasuko Kikuchi. Born and raised in Hokkaido, she’s a JMGA-certified guide now based in Sapporo. Her outdoor experience is broad and worldwide, having worked as a Canadian Ski Patrol member, and has sumitted a number of 6,000m+ peaks around the world. She speaks good English. In addition to Yasuko, also see a full list of English-speaking Hokkaido Mountain Guides Association (HMGA) guides on the HMGA website here

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Route Trip Notes

Just like old times.

After nearly four years of coronavirus exile from Japan, I’m finally standing once again at a Hokkaido trailhead. It’s a bit of a late start as Jeff has had to pick me up from Obihiro that morning and we only just manage to find a space in the packed car park.

The trail climbs steadily. There are no views to speak of, but passing through different zones of forest provides some visual relief and evidence of upward progress. Lower down the akaezomatsu pine plantations and head high sasa give way to more natural forest of todomatsu pines, which in turn changes into mountain birch dakekanba, a vibrant spring green. A pleasant flatter section at about halfway gives a temporary break from the relentless climb. Every now and then we meet some of the early starters coming back down. It’s a hot and muggy day and we are soaked in sweat after the final steep pull to the  summit ridge.

We turn left and begin the gentle climb up the ridge. Up here there are only low haimatsu scrub pines and suddenly we have views in all directions. Behind us is the west summit of Pankenushi-dake, and beyond that the wild ridges of the inner Hidaka range. The bulk of Poroshiri-yama lies off to the south. It’s a great feeling to be out of the forest and into the alpine zone and we enjoy the light and space.

As we head up the gentle gradient Jeff tells me about a young local mountaineer who has made an impact recently with a full winter solo traverse of the Hokkaido watershed, from north to south over six weeks (full details here in Japanese). It sounds like an epic trip and I am interested to know more. Soon we reach the summit. A number of people are already there, a young mountain guide with three very smart and lively female clients. We all say hello, and we take off our packs.

I notice Jeff is looking quizzically at the guide. After a while he asks, ‘Excuse me, but aren’t you Nomura-san?’ The guide laughs and the ladies all chime in to confirm his identity. It’s the same guy we have just been talking about literally minutes ago! He is a former Hokkaido University student and as Jeff and I are both academics there (formerly in my case) we start chatting away. Luckily he never had to suffer through either of our classes!

After a few minutes and a couple of photo opportunities, they pack up and head back down. We pull out our lunches and an extra layer as it’s much cooler up here. Soon enough we also begin to head down. At the junction, we take a short walk along the trail leading to the other summit but decide that we haven’t got enough time to go all the way and the clouds are looking ominous. We return and head back down the main trail, and the rain comes soon after. It doesn’t last long and we descend uneventfully back to the car. The car park is now deserted except for one other vehicle. Neither of us really know this area so we are disappointed when a search for local onsen reveals nothing convenient, and we resign ourselves to an hour’s drive back to Obihiro and a crowded city onsen (mediocre) and a small local ramen shop (excellent).

Good to be back!

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Memuro-dake Day Hike Difficulty Rating





Vertical Gain



Time ascending















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.