Ogawayama in English


Welcome to Ogawayama in English.
This is a rock-climber's guide to a place called Ogawayama, which, despite increasing competition and at times unbearable overcrowding, remains the best all-round rock-climbing area in Japan.
The guide is permanently a work in progress, so bear with me if you come across a bit that isn't finished yet.
If you have any suggestions for the guide, particularly on grades and routename translations, please let me know at neil_AT_ogawayama_DOT_online.

Here's a little message for Japanese climbers: Japanese Message

And so, to business:

2024 Lodge/Campsite Opening

The lodge and campsite will be open again from April 26th.

A word or two about the guide:

About the climbing:

About the rock:

About grades:

About fixed gear:

About the topos:

About the main paths:

About streams:

About the night sky:

Glorious. A cloudless, moonless night is just spectacular.

When to go

The campsite is located at 1,600m altitude. It's bloody cold (at night) from November to May, though if you get lucky you can find yourself climbing in T-shirt and shorts in the daytime. (Incidentally, 25cm of snow fell on the night of May 2nd, 2001 - a rarity, but it can happen. Take a look.) June is well warm enough, but late June/early July is often rained out. For most people, the season is from late July to September.
Be warned: The place heaves during the bulk of Golden Week, the August national holiday (usually 13th-15th) and any three-day weekend (these have become quite common since Happy Monday Syndrome hit Japan).
You might want to check the weather before you go. Try these:

Getting There

There are lots of ways to get there. This is the one I know:

Jonas Wiklund kindly let me have a copy of the sketch map he did for his excellent article introducing bouldering at Ogawayama. Click here for the map.

Amazingly, some people don't have their own wheels. This is for you.
Hitching is extremely rare in Japan, so while there's a bit of novelty attached and it can be done, it is a very unreliable way of getting from A to B.
Public transport will take you as far as Kawahage. To get there, wherever you're coming from, you first need to get to Shinano-Kawakami station on the JR Koumi line. From there take a 30-minute bus ride to Kawahage terminus (about one every two hours between 7am and 7pm, and usually timed to leave just before the train arrives - timetable here). From Kawahage, you can look forward to a gently rising 40-minute walk to the campsite (possible to hitch once you get up onto the "main" road).
There is a taxi service from Shinano-Kawakami station, but it is expensive and inconvenient.

Being There

The campsite is known as Mawarime Daira, which means something like Panorama Plain. It's just about as big as you want it to be - but most people seem abnormally attracted to the toilets, so they don't spread out much. The main part of the campsite centres on Kimpu Sansou - the relatively huge and luxurious mountain lodge. Unfortunately, the campsite is also popular with boulderers, hikers, families and other non-climbers, so expect a crowd - Japanese style - most summer weekends.
There is a climber-centric Japanese homepage for the campsite here.
This includes an excellent English language map of the crags around the campsite.
Some things you should know:

The lodge is closed from mid-November to mid-April. During this period, the barrier across the entrance is left open and you can camp for free, but note that all of the electricity and water outlets are turned off and the toilets are locked.



Standard Disclaimer:

Climbing's a dangerous game. Be careful. If you get killed, it's not my fault.

Non-standard Disclaimer:

There's bears in them hills. Be careful. If you get eaten, it's not my fault.

Substandard Disclaimer:

Climbing dangerous careful killed fault.