Posted on Jan 12, 2021
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Posted on Jan 12, 2021

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Reading time: 3 min


5 hours





Highest point



Snow Icon | Hokkaido Wilds

Best season

Naei-yama 那英山 (819m) offers a nice walk on skis just west of Kamifurano Town in central Hokkaido. While most skiers will be drawn to the mighty Daisetsuzan Range to the west, Naei-yama is a much more relaxed low-altitude skin along the forested border of Kamifurano and Biei Town. The approach is very mellow, so most skiers will find they'll prefer to have their skins on for much of the descent. But there is short, sweet, and steep open area just below the summit to get in a few powerful turns. On a good day, the summit will afford expansive views to the Tokachi Range to the east, and across the Furano plain.

We visited this route on Dec 26, 2020

Route Map

Need to know details


Naei-yama is a minor peak at the far northern end of the Yubari Range in northern central Hokkaido, just west of Kamifurano Town. The route starts from a forestry road heading away from the minor prefectural highway Route 581 connecting Kamifurano to Takikawa.

General notes

As hinted above, this is much more of a walk than a ski; besides the short steep descent from the summit, we had our skins on for 80% of the descent. There’s a few ups and downs along the way. The forest is varied though, and it’s a very pleasant forest wander, well sheltered from the prevailing northwesterly winds. The name of the mountain is said to come from the Ainu naye, possibly meaning ‘river in the valley’ (source). Indeed, the Nae-kawa river 奈江川 has its source to the southeast of the summit.



Route details

After parking well to the left of the road, head due west straight into the large open field at the end of the forestry road marked on the map. Either follow the buried forestry road, or head uphill on the field to gain the broad ridge. From the field carry on due west along the ridge through a plantation of black pines. The entire route traces along the municipal border with Biei Town, so you’ll see sporadic red markers attached to trees marking the border. About 2km into the climb, the forest becomes more uniformly natural, leaving the Kamifurano-town side plantations behind. At the 3km point, after crossing a 500m long clearing, you’ll make the final steep slog up to the summit. Cornices form at the summit, so you may need to wrap considerably around to the left or right to avoid them, in order to access the summit. Return the same way. You’ll likely need to put the skins back on after the initial steep descent from the summit for the gradual return to Route 581.

Route Timing
Up | 3hrs
Down | 2hrs

Even on skis, it can take up to 2 hours on the return, due to the very gradual descending topography.


Public transport:

This route is not accessible by public transport.

By car: 

There’s no official car park at the trailhead on Route 581, so you’ll be parking on the side of the road. Please allow an extra 20 minutes or so clear another 1m or so into the snow bank, in order to get your car as far to the left of the road as possible.

Physical maps
Official Topo Map: Kamifurano (上富良野) – map no. NK-54-7-12-1
Official Topo Map 2: Nokanan (野花南) – map no. NK-54-7-12-3

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

Snow and route safety

We’ve marked this route as suitable for beginners, but the normal caveats about the Hokkaido backcountry apply – take extra warm layers, submit your intentions to the police using Compass, and make an early start. This is a solid 5 hour trek even on skis. Note also that the prevailing westerly winds create a large cornice on the eastern side of the summit.

Weather forecast weather forecast for Naei-yama
Onsen nearby

Down the road in Kamifurano Town is Fronteir Furanui Onsen フロンティアフラヌイ温泉 (location, 650yen), a large public baths style onsen. There’s no outdoor baths, but the indoor tubs are hot!

Extra Resources
No extra English resources that we know of. If you know of any, please let us know in the comments.

Guide Options

If you’d like to ski this route and/or explore other areas of Central Hokkaido together with a local certified guide, get in touch with Takao Miyashita. He’s a born-and-bred Hokkaido based guide. From a young age he cut his teeth on peaks around Tokachi-dake, Asahi-dake, Sandan-yama and others. He has multiple 6,000m-plus peak international expeditions under his belt (including a ski descent from 7,400m on Mt. Manaslu, Nepal). He is one of the leading senior figures in the local guiding and outdoor associations here in Hokkaido and Japan. 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

A canoeing acquaintance (Takahashi-san from posted on Facebook that they’d taken a trip to Kamifurano on the (now doomed) national GoToTravel Campaign. “We paid about 15,000yen for accommodation, and received about 16,000yen in vouchers to spend in the town,” he wrote. “We were essentially paid to stay there,” he gushed.

This seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up, so Haidee booked us into a heavily discounted entire house accommodation in Kamifurano for three nights. The damage? We paid 17,000yen for three nights, and received 17,400yen in vouchers.


*The GoToTravel campaign was later cancelled due to rapidly rising COVID-19 infections…go figure.

As our trip dates approached, I kept an eye on the weather. Generally, it was looking like a huge amount of snowfall, but along with it quite a bit of wind. I started looking on to see if there were any lower-altitude options for skiing around Kamifurano. A high concentration of heatmap activity centered around Naei-yama, a mountain with no summer trail. So we decided to check it out.

When we arrived at the trailhead at 8am, it was cold. Well below freezing. But the day looked like it was going to be a clear one, despite strong forecasted westerlies. But we were sheltered from the winds on this easterly approach to the summit.

The first few kilometers were an easy meander along a broad, gentle ridge, through a mix of plantation and natural forest. It was cold, but all quite picturesque. Navigation was a breeze, as we followed the border with Biei Town, sporadic border markings along the way.

Soon we began climbing more in earnest. We reflected that this was the first time this season we’d done any kick-turns. Why do these early winter months always feel so long as we wait for the winter to really kick in?

After about 90 minutes, we hit the large clearing before the final slog up to the summit. A light snow started to fall, as if on cue. The forecast had predicted worsening weather as the day went on. Sure enough, by the time we arrived at the summit, the snow was coming down with more enthusiasm. On the summit itself, we got a taste for the strong westerly from which the north-south summit ridge was protecting us from.

By the time we’d got back to the car (with some Facetime with family on the skin back down), the car had a decent layer of snow on it. This season’s snow just doesn’t seem to be willing to let up this year!

As with each ski touring, cycle touring, and hiking route guide published on, should you choose to follow the information on this page, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road/track closures. While traveling, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow leave-no-trace procedures. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this information, associated GPS track (GPX, KML and maps), and all information was prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed., its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individuals following the information contained in this post.

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Comments | Queries | Reports

Done this route to Naei-yama, or others nearby? Thinking of doing it? Please post any feedback, reports, or queries here. Thanks!

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