Day Trip to Mt. Hodo From Tokyo: A Great Hiking Tour for Families and Beginners

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Mt. Hodo is about 2 hours from central Tokyo in a place called Nagatoro. Nagatoro is a tourist destination full of natural beauty located in the northwest area of Saitama Prefecture. It has flourished as a popular spot for over 150 years and still attracts about 3 million visitors annually. The Arakawa River, which flows through the center of the town, is a long river that runs 173 km through Saitama and Tokyo prefectures, and both banks of the river are surrounded by beautiful scenery and nature.

About Mt. Hodo

The summit of Mt. Hodo is 497.1m high, making it a great hike for beginners and families. As it is not nearly as high as Mt. Fuji (3,776m), it does not require special equipment like you would need to hike a higher mountain, and is easily accessible from Tokyo. At the foot of the mountain you will find Hodosan Shrine, one of the Three Great Chichibu Shrines along with Chichibu Shrine and Mitsumine Shrine. It is a very special shrine and even received one-star from the Michelin Green Guide Japan (a travel guide made for international tourists to introduce the attractions of various regions in Japan). 

Meeting Your Guide

Toshi-san, the wonderful guide for this tour, has over 40 years of extensive mountaineering experience. He has climbed many mountains, both domestic and international, and continues to do so now. He was born and raised in Brazil and has lived in the United States and Europe, making him the perfect guide for this tour. Let’s get into the details of this mountain climbing adventure with Toshi-san! 

Hiking Tour Highlights

Meet at JR Kumagaya Station

You’ll meet up with Toshi-San at JR Kumagaya Station, which is about an hour from central Tokyo. If you’re looking for a faster and more luxurious ride, you can also take the shinkansen (a bullet train) from Tokyo Station which will save you about 30 minutes. If you have a Japan Rail Pass, taking the shinkansen is definitely the best option. 

After meeting Toshi-San and the tour group at JR Kumagaya Station, you’ll take the train to Nogami Station on the Chichibu Railway Line. From there, you’ll head to the trailhead to begin the climb up the mountain. Although there isn’t too much elevation gain, there are ups and downs that make the climb enjoyable.

Before the summit, there is a steep set of 200 steps that leads up to the top of the mountain, making it a challenging climb. Enjoy the chirping of birds and the whispering of the wind as you make your way to the summit! 

Arrival at the summit

It takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes from the trailhead to reach the summit. From the summit, you can see Mt. Ryokami, one of Japan’s 100 most famous mountains, along with a wonderful view of the city of Nagatoro. You will also get to experience the scenery of each of the four seasons during the hike, so there is something different to enjoy each season. You can see wintersweet and plum blossoms in winter, sakura (cherry blossoms) in spring and early summer, and autumn leaves in fall.

Oden stand and famous lady at the summit

At the summit, there is a stand selling oden (Japanese winter stew with various individual ingredients) and amazake (sweet sake), which are good for a tired body. If you are lucky, you will find a famous elderly lady working cheerfully at the stall. She may even sing you a lovely song! 

Head down to Nagatoro Station

From the summit, you’ll take the ropeway down to the foot of the mountain. The view while riding the ropeway is also pretty impressive.

After getting off the ropeway, you will head for Nagatoro Station. There are plenty of things to do along the way, including shaved ice made from “natural ice” in Mt. Hodo that is very delicious. Natural ice is made by pouring clear water into an ice-making pond and freezing it in the outdoor (natural) cold over about two weeks. Unlike being made from ice from a freezer, which freezes quickly, shaved ice made from natural ice has a soft and fluffy texture. The shaved ice here is sold all year round, but during the summer you may have to wait in line for two hours or more as it’s extremely popular!  We recommend going in winter or spring when it’s less crowded.

If you are thirsty after climbing the mountain, there’s nothing better than a local beer made from the mineral-rich water of Chichibu (not included in the tour price). Nagatoro is famous for its outdoor activities, so in addition to hiking, you can also rent a bicycle and enjoy cycling, as well as experience river rafting and river cruising.

How to book the tour

On this tour you will truly have the chance to experience the great outdoors and mountain climbing on a day trip from the center of Tokyo. It’s perfect for those who don’t have much hiking experience, or families with younger children. Click the link below to book the tour!

Let's go hiking near Tokyo and enhance your experience during your stay in Japan!

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