Mt Ontake

Mt. Ontake

Kiso’s sacred volcano filled with spiritual history


Mt. Ontake, located in Kiso-gun, Nagano-ken, is considered one of japan‘s most sacred mountains. For over a thousand years, this majestic peak has attracted worshippers and pilgrims from all over the country. Mt. Ontake is not only known for its breathtaking landscapes but also for its rich spiritual history. The mountain is home to an ancient pilgrimage trail and a nature-focused spiritual culture that continues to thrive to this day. In this article, we will explore the significance of Mt. Ontake and delve into the various aspects of its spiritual heritage.

The Pilgrimage Trail

One of the main attractions of Mt. Ontake is the Ontake Pilgrimage Trail. This trail has deep historical roots and is considered a sacred path by many. The religion practiced in this area is a blend of Shinto, esoteric Buddhism, and ancient shamanic lore. Every year, pilgrims from all over Japan embark on a journey to walk the Ontake Pilgrimage Trail, seeking spiritual enlightenment and purification.

The trail itself is a testament to the deep connection between nature and spirituality. As you walk along the trail, you will come across various holy sites where pilgrims perform ceremonies and rituals. In the warmer months of July and August, the trail is filled with pilgrims dressed in white, creating a truly spiritual atmosphere.

Exploring the Summit

At the summit of Mt. Ontake, visitors are greeted with a volcanic moonscape unlike any other. The rugged terrain and the awe-inspiring views make it a popular destination for hikers and nature lovers. The summit offers a sense of tranquility and serenity, allowing visitors to connect with nature on a deeper level.

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Trekking the summit takes approximately five to six hours, but there are lodges available for those who wish to stay overnight. These lodges provide a unique opportunity to experience the pilgrimage season firsthand and immerse oneself in the spiritual culture of Mt. Ontake.

Sacred Waterfalls in Otaki Village

Another significant aspect of Mt. Ontake’s spiritual history can be found in Otaki Village, a remote area nestled at the foot of the mountain. Otaki Village is home to two of the most sacred waterfalls in the region, Kiyotaki and Shintaki falls. These waterfalls have been regarded as purifying sites for centuries, and pilgrims often stop here to cleanse themselves before ascending Mt. Ontake.

The Ontake Waterfall Trail is a must-visit for anyone exploring this area. The trail takes you through a beautiful forest adorned with shrines and mossy dedications to the divine. As you approach the falls, you will feel as though you have entered another world. The chanting of pilgrims and the conducting of their rituals adds to the mystical ambiance of the place.

Skiing on Mt. Ontake

For those visiting Kiso during the winter season, Mt. Ontake offers a unique opportunity for skiing. The mountain is home to two ski resorts, Ontake Skijo in Otaki Village and the Kaida Kogen Maia Ski Area. Although these resorts may be smaller compared to others in the region, they provide a fun day in the snow and the chance to ski on Nagano’s highest volcano.

How to Get There

To reach Mt. Ontake, the closest main station is Kiso-Fukushima Station. From Nagano Station, you can catch the JR Shinano line to Kiso-Fukushima Station. However, getting to and around the area without a car requires some planning. From Kiso-Fukushima Station, you can take a bus bound for Tanohara to the final stop, where the hiking trail begins. Buses run only three times a day, so it is essential to check the schedule beforehand. Alternatively, you can take the Ontake Ropeway-bound bus and get off at the gondola, which will take you up the mountain.

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Quick Facts

Before planning your visit to Mt. Ontake, here are some quick facts to keep in mind:

– Mt. Ontake is Japan’s second-highest volcano, standing at 3,067 meters.
– Due to the 2014 eruption, a one-kilometer area around the crater has been off-limits. It is essential to check for any restrictions or closures before visiting.
– Skiing is available on the slopes of Mt. Ontake, providing a unique winter sports experience.
– The information on this page may be subject to change due to COVID-19. It is advisable to stay updated on any travel restrictions or guidelines.


Mt. Ontake is not just a mountain; it is a spiritual sanctuary that has played a significant role in Japan’s religious and cultural history. The Ontake Pilgrimage Trail, the volcanic moonscape of the summit, and the sacred waterfalls in Otaki Village all contribute to the spiritual allure of this sacred mountain. Whether you are a nature enthusiast, a spiritual seeker, or an adventure lover, Mt. Ontake offers a unique experience that will leave a lasting impression. Make sure to plan your visit accordingly and immerse yourself in the rich spiritual history of this remarkable destination.

Address And Maps Location:

Kiso-gun, Nagano-ken

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