Hiking Senjojiki Cirque
It still feels like late summer/early autumn here in The Big Sushi, but in the mountains to the west of Tokyo koyo autumn foliage season is already burning up the forests, all Halloween reds and yellows. Last weekend R. and I took a (longish) four-and-a-half-hour bus ride to Senjojiki Cirque, on the slope of Komagatake, in Nagano prefecture’s Chuo Middle Alps for a long weekend of hiking and photography. We stayed at Hotel Senjojiki, a fancypants mountain hut/rustic hotel attached to the ropeway station at 2,662 meters: the highest ropeway station in Japan (and Japan has ropeway stations!).
Weatherwise, we got the best of both worlds. Cold and rainy on the day we arrived, we got to see the crags and slopes in a quiet, intimate moment as we hiked the 50-minute trail around the cirque (Senjojiki means “space for 1,000 tatami mats, which sounds about right). The following two days the mountain put its public face back on, and we hiked around and up and out of the cirque bowl under clear blue skies, with all the expected vistas of the Alps vistas and sea of clouds we had come to see.
On the second day, we hiked up Komagatake and a couple of other summits easily reached from Senjojiki Cirque. But that will be the stuff of another post…