Note that Shirouma and Hakuba are different readings of the same characters (白馬), and some of the places here go by both names. So if you hear Mt Shirouma and Mt Hakuba, then they are talking about the same place.

Day 1 Tsugaike Kogen – Hakuba Oike – Mt Shirouma

Last climb to Mt Shirouma Summit

The start of this trip has been covered above in Hakuba Oike day trip, so we’ll take it from there.

After lunch you head up the pathway leading away from the tent site part of Hakuba Oike Hut. If the weather is fine, you are in for a spectacular afternoon.

The route for the 6-7 km hike from Hakuba Oike to the summit at Mt Shirouma follows the ridge-line most of the way. While there is some scrub in the lower areas, you are above the tree line the whole way. This is also an area where the you have the best opportunity to see Raicho, a native Japanese grouse bird. These birds are the symbol of the northern alps, and while not shy, they do keep out of arm’s length. After about 2 hours on the track you’ll get to the small summit of Mt Korenge at 2766masl. This is a good place for a break and photos.

Shirouma Sanso Hut with Shirouma Summit in the background

Carrying on, the track is a gentle rise until you get to the track junction at Sangokusakai. The sign here is only in Japanese, so you want to take the track that heads off to the left. If it’s clear you can see the summit ahead of you, and the trail gets noticeable steeper for the final hour to the top. Arriving later in the day often means the clouds have come in, and the wind is getting up.

The short walk down to the Hakuba Sanso Hut is welcome. With Mt Shirouma being the one of the most popular climbing routes in Japan, there are 2 very large huts here. The upper one near the summit is Hakuba Sanso, which sleeps up to 800 people. A little lower down is the Hakuba Village operated Shirouma Dake Sancho Shukusha Hut (a bit of a mouthful even for Japanese). This hut is also large and sleeps a little over 400 people. Both huts provide meals and accommodation, but the larger Hakuba Sanso also has a restaurant (with Ra-men and Curries) as well a beer on tap. Private rooms are available for a charge at both lodges.

Start: 1,850 masl
Highest Point: 2,932 masl
Route: Tsugaike Nature Park – (1:20) – Tenguhara – (2:00) – Hakuba Ike Pond – (2:00) – Korenge – (0:30) – Sangokusakai – (1:00) – Mt Shirouma Summit – (0:10) – Hakuba Sanso Hut
Difficulty Level ★★★☆☆

Day 2 Mt Shirouma – Mt Shakushi – Mt Hakuba Yarigatake – Yari Onsen

Pass between Mt Shirouma and Mt Shakushi

Day 2 of this hike is one of the classic days hiking in Japan, taking in each of the 3 main peaks in Hakuba. Before dawn, you want to be back up on the summit of Mt Shirouma to watch the sunrise, before heading back to the hut for breakfast. After packing you head down the track to the Maruyama pass, before ascending the scree slopes up to the top of Mt Shakushi. There is a longer, gentler track that traverses back, but this requires some backtracking later, and the view from the top of Mt Shakushi is worth the trek up the scree. You’ll pop out above the scree at the summit where a yellow pole marks the highest point. Be careful though as the eastern face is a sheer drop of several hundred meters.

Looking back at Mt Shakushi and Mt Shirouma from Mt Yarigatake

After catching your breath, you wander along the ridge line (with the same sheer drop off to your left) before descending to the next pass. From there it is a steep climb up to the 3rd of the days summits at Hakuba Yarigatake. The summit on Yarigatake is more of a dome, so it is a lot easier on the nerves than that of neighboring Mt Shakushi. The views from here are amazing in all directions.

Mt Hakuba Yarigatake Summit

After leaving the summit you head down a short way to the trail junction. The route off the right takes you all the way along the ridge line, and while it looks quite gentle, the terrain past the hut you can see in the distance is for experts only. At the junction you take the left fork and start descending to Yari Onsen Hot spring. The descent is quite long but not terribly difficult until you get closer to the hut, where you need to pack your poles and scramble down a few short rock faces with chains.

Yari Onsen Hut has its own hot spring. This large outdoor pool is very hot and is very welcome. It’s shared bathing, but each night from 20:00-21:00 it is women only. Unlike the summit huts listed here which are built to withstand the elements year-round, many of the buildings at Yari Onsen are dismantled before winter and rebuilt in spring. Only sleeping 150 people, it is one of the smaller huts, but you still have the option of dinner and breakfast. There is also quite a large campsite, where many people come up from Sarukura and do an overnight camp.

Start: 2,932 masl
Highest Point: 2,932 masl

Route: Shirouma Sanso Hut –  (1:20) – Mt Shakushidake Summit – (1:00) – My Hakuba Yarigatake – (2:50) – Yari Onsen hut
Difficulty Level ★★★☆☆

Day 3 Yari Onsen to Sarukura

Yari Onsen Hut with Hot Spring

An early morning hot spring is a good way to warm up the muscles for the day ahead. After breakfast it is good to get on the track, as you want to get to Sarukura about lunch time when there are several buses heading down into Hakuba. The bus timetable is on display in the Hut, so check out the times and plan accordingly.

There are a few steep sections along the way

After leaving the hut, there is a steep downhill that winds along the hillside. During the first hour or so, there are a couple of traverses across slopes that have fairly steep drop offs. Enough to get the heart pounding.

There is a short climb up to the col at Obinata, but from there it is pretty much plain sailing. After 2 days of spectacular view, the final part is all through the forest.

Just above Sarukura Hut, you pop out onto a gravel road. Make sure you turn right, or you are heading back up hill to the Daisekkei Ice Field.

At Sarukura Hut you can buy food and drinks, and wait for the bus that winds it way down a narrow road into central Hakuba.

Start: 2,100 masl
Highest Point: 2,100 masl
Route: Yari Onsen Hut –  (1:50) – Obinata Col – (1:50) – Sarukura
Difficulty Level ★★★☆☆