Rock Climbing Routes at Sawaguchisawa


Aspect and Location

The rocks are located on the west side of Mount Ryuusou, overlooking Abe River, about 13km to the northwest of Shizuoka city centre.
The hillside is mostly densely wooded. Once you enter the woods above the wasabi farm, the paths are not well defined or established and, especially higher up, prone to collapse.
The best time of year for climbing here is between November and May, with February, March and April being the best months.
The rock is friable in places, but the first ascensionists have generally ignored the worst of it.
In addition, the thick tree cover means that the rocks are slow to dry and quick to moss over. Take a wire brush if you have one.

Getting There

  1. From Shizuoka, follow Route 27 (Abe Kaidou) north through Ushizuma towards Umegashima.
  2. Go through Shizuhata Kita tunnel and past a left turn that takes you to a bridge crossing Abe River on your left.
  3. 100m after this is a small crossroads with a factory (Nihon Panel Kougyou) on the right.
  4. Turn right and follow the narrow road up past a water treatment centre.
    (If you turn left at the crossroads, you drop down to a big, free riverside parking area.)
  5. The road steepens and winds up through tea fields. Continue, past a dirt road breaking off to the right, to a dead end at a wide turnaround/parking area at the start of a wasabi farm, just about here.


The wasabi farm is private land. Good relations with the owner are crucial for parking and access. So:


This is tricky...
  1. From the parking area, cross the stream using a rickety metal bridge and walk along the wall (i.e. on top of it) with wasabi on your left, the stream on your right, to a boulder acting as a partial dam.
  2. Cross this leftwards and follow the path to another wall with monorail (wasabi now on your right).
  3. Walk along the wall till about 10m below the level of a shack on the opposite side of the wasabi.
  4. Cross the wasabi field along one of the concrete dividers and follow the path up past the shack and along another wall with monorail to where 2 thick black pipes run across the wall (about 30m after the shack).
  5. Drop down right off the wall after the second pipe, then cross the shallow stream and pull up a short wall into a bamboo thicket.
  6. Climb a few ancient steps and follow a path up into the woods to another decrepit shack.
  7. The path continues round the back of this and heads up more steeply past cairns to a small face. Zigzag left of this and pull up a fixed rope in a gully.
  8. After a few metres left and up, the path traverses right through fragile cedars to a bay with rocks above, ahead, and below. The first rock is overhanging and has a weird man-made basin at its base. There may or may not be a stash of old climbing/bolting gear here.
    It should take about 25 minutes from the parking area to the stash.


Sawaguchisawa Map and Topo

Route Descriptions

The rock with the stash has one route on its solid but very green left (north) face and another on its cleaner but looser overhanging front face:

Denkiya no Gyakushuu - Revenge of the Electrician 7m 5.10a
The very green slab round to the left of the stash. North facing and unlikely to be clean, however often you brush it. If it happens to be clean, it's probably 5.9.
Stop Press: Re-cleaned in March 2018. Get on it quick!
Follow the bolts to a tree. Low in the grade, with the crux at the bottom. It's easier to finish right of the last bolt, but more fun to finish direct.

Ryuusou Hang 8m 5.11b
The steep groove in the front face.
After a very hard entry, juggy moves on suspect rock lead to a lower-off under a small loose block that needs to be trundled.

After the stash, there is a short water-worn face set back on the right followed by a couple of huge boulders very close together. The first of these has an overhanging back (north) face with an unfinished project and a (usually) scrubbed slabby west face:

Wolverine 7m 5.11a
A good route up the left edge of the slab, with a hard undercut start.
Make a hard pull to get your feet up onto a sloping shelf, make a scary clip (spotter advised), and then udge up and right and stretch for a jug. Continue direct past 2 more bolts to a lower-off over the top.

Chupacabra 7m 5.10b
The centre of the slab. Neat, and quite high in the grade.
Start off a boulder just right of a prominent masonry bolt. After a technical start on small holds, climb direct to a lower-off in the tree. There is an awkward move just below the top.

Goatman 7m 5.11a
Artificial, but fun.
Start in the squeeze. Make hard moves up, right and up again to gain a flake/ramp and follow this to a lower-off in the tree. 5.9 if you use the boulder behind you!

After the squeeze, the slab on the right overlooks a (usually) dry stream. There are 2 routes on the slab with a shared start:

Scuzzlebutt 9m 5.10a
The right line up the slab through the squeeze. Belay low down.
Stride left to a small foothold at the toe of the slab and make a committing pull across. Continue with decreasing difficulty to a lower-off.

Hibagon 9m 5.10a
The centre of the slab through the squeeze. Belay low down.
As for Scuzzlebutt, stride left onto the slab. Continue too easily via a short groove to the lower-off.

The next routes are on Obake Block (Bogeyman Block), the rock directly below the stash. For the first 4, scramble down carefully between boulders on the north side.

Echigoya 10m 5.10b
The blocky line on the north face of the rock directly below the stash. Loose and not recommended. I think echigoya is some sort of merchant.
Follow the bolts carefully to a slabby finish and a 3-bolt lower-off over the top (no tat).

Amanojaku 12m 5.10c
The line up the left edge of the front (west) face of the rock directly below the stash has some good technical moves. Amanojaku is a demon that makes people do wicked things.
Start by a huge tree. Pull up into a scoop. Follow the scoop up and left to the bottom of a ramp leading back right. Pull onto the ramp, move right and pull up onto the top of the rock.

Beetlejuice 14m 5.10b
An exciting diagonal excursion up the face right of Amanojaku.
Start as for Amanojaku, pull up into the scoop, but move up and right to pull right onto a good foothold in the centre of the face. Move up and right past 2 bolts close together, then make a final crux pull left and up to a lower-off on a good tree just over the top.

The Blair Witch 15m 5.11a
Right again with an undercut start. Belay advised.
Start a couple of metres down and right from Amanojaku. Pull up and right above the cutaway, then move awkwardly right onto the face. Make thin moves up to a short flake on the left. Pull neatly up, step right and climb a slabbier section rightwards to the top. Belay on trees over the back.

Dark Shadows 16m 5.11a
Starts as for The Blair Witch, then heads further right. Belay advised.
Follow The Blair Witch to its second bolt. Stretch right at this level to clip a third (independent) bolt and then step down. Stretch right at this level for a narrow ledge and mantel onto this. After an easy step up, thin steep moves lead to the final slabby section and a bolt shared with The Blair Witch. Finish right of this and belay on trees over the back.

For the next route, ab down the south side of the block to a 2-bolt belay on a small ledge overlooking the stream. Spooky!

Sleepy Hollow 13m 5.8
The slab just right of the arete, passing a wonderfully wizened tree.
From the ledge, climb direct past 3 bolts to belay on trees at the top. There is an awkward move to pass the bulge by the wizened tree.

The next route is located on the fiercely overhanging wall passed on the way up to Long Slab, about 80m further up the hill from the stash. Zigzag up the slope left of Denkiya no Gyakushuu to the obvious bulging, crumbly face.

Big Hang - Big Hang 16m 5.11b
The bolted line starting at the lowest point of the face. (May not have been climbed yet.)
A desperate starting move gives access to some huge holds on gradually easing ground. Best to climb quickly, or not at all.

The next venue is Long Slab, about 200m up the hill from the stash. Zigzag up the disintegrating slope left of Big Hang to the long green slab. There are currently 3 routes, all of which are better than they look (which is, admittedly, not saying much). They are in desperate need of a good scrubbing, in which case, they would be a grade or two easier.

Akudaikan - Bad Lieutenant 18m 5.10a
The lefthand line. Start at the lowest point of the slab.
Climb the easy lower slab to a blank section right of some choss. Neat moves lead to a terrace. Scramble left to the more open continuation line. Again, climb the easy lower slab to a blank section, then make neat moves to a tree and lower-off.

Konnyoku Toshi-chan - Two in the Bath 42m 5.10b
The central line.
Traverse in from the right, then climb direct right of a groove. Continue to a scruffy ledge and make a tricky pull over a bulge to gain a weakness leading up and right into Gen Plays with Fire. Follow this with care (the rock is good but dirty) to a tree and anchor. To descend, ab to an anchor left of the bulge and then ab again.

Hi Asobi Gen-chan - Gen Plays with Fire 41m 5.10a
The righthand line. If clean, very good and easy for the grade.
Start as for Konnyoku Toshi-chan, but climb straight up the slab to a small ledge on the right. Step left and go up to a blocky corner with some interesting hardware. Pull out right onto the slab as soon as possible. Excellent, increasingly technical moves up this lead to a ramp. Follow this up and right then climb with care (the rock is good but dirty) to a tree and anchor. Descend as for Konnyoku Toshi-chan.

30m to the right of Long Slab is a prominent waterchute that is usually dry, but is beautiful after heavy rain.
Between Long Slab and the waterchute, but starting about 25m above ground level, is Suspended Slab. The slab is hard to make out from below, but is actually quite open. The best approach for this is to skirt Long Slab on its left, head up the slope slightly then traverse left across a usually dry stream below a dirty rock face. Continue left to the end of the rockface then cut back right above it and continue up the wooded hillside for 30m till it is possible to recross the dry stream and follow a faint path back above Long Slab. The path narrows and leads to the trees growing out over the top of the obvious cleaned slab that is Suspended Slab. (The path continues and narrows alarmingly before ending just ahead of the waterchute. Rope up if you head out there!)
For all the routes, you have to ab in from good trees at the top of the slab. The good news is, 5m down from the base of the slab is a tree with an ab point, from which it is 20m down to the col between the base of Long Slab and the waterchute.
At the time of writing (2016), the routes are all clean and the slab is well worth a visit.

Shuuhen Shiya - Peripheral Vision 16m 5.10a
The leftmost line. Start by abbing to a good tree that creates its own ledge about two-thirds down the left edge of the slab.
After a tricky first move, climb the easy lower slab past 2 bolts to a break with a small tree and good small/medium cams. Pass the tree on the left and continue up the left edge of the slab to a choice of trees at the top.

Tokeru Ki no Shita ni - Under the Melting Tree 16m 5.10b
The next line. Start as for Peripheral Vision.
Follow Peripheral Vision to the second bolt, then step right and continue to the break (cams). Make a high step up just right of the tree, then trend left to rejoin Peripheral Vision just below the top.

Tsuri Tenjou - Suspended Ceilings 16m 5.10a
The cracked groove and the slab above. Start as for Peripheral Vision.
Step right from the tree and climb the obvious groove till it ends (wires and small cams). Continue direct up the slab to the left edge of a small ledge just below the top and a choice of trees.

Kuuchuu Teien - Hanging Gardens 23m 5.10c
The long central line. Excellent moves, but a little artificial. Start by abbing to a spongy ledge at the lowest point of the slab. Belay on trees, and/or good medium cams in a crack on the right.
Start right of a crack choked with tree roots. Follow the slab on good holds past 2 bolts to a short thin crack (wires and micro-cams). Move up to a notch on the left and then step right and climb direct to a ledge in the middle of the slab. Continue direct to crux moves to reach the small ledge below the top.

Klingon Country 12m 5.9
The righthand line. Start by abbing to a stonking tree about halfway down the right side of the slab.
Step delicately up, then climb direct past 3 bolts to an ease in angle. Continue easily past a short crack (possible wire or cam) to good trees at the top.

The next routes are on City Square, to be found about 100m right of Long Slab. From Long Slab, head right, past the waterfall, keeping the big vegetated face on your left. After 75m of tiresome up and down on vegetated but loose ground, drop down to skirt a blocky rib and then head up into the bay of City Square. The south-facing slab on your left contains Seven by Seven, the west-facing slab up and right contains Safety in Numbers.

Note:Do not rely on the lone tree at the top of the Seven by Seven slab as an anchor. The situ anchors are on good trees set further back.

Seven by Seven 15m 5.10d
The righthand of the 3 lines. A good route by any standards.
Start by traversing in from the right along a wide break. From the middle of the break, make a hard high step and pull onto the slab (11a if you can't reach the crimp above the first bolt from the break). The climbing remains awkward and interesting until the last bolt. There is a lower-off set back on the right.

Six by Six 15m 5.10b
The central line. Another good route.
Follow the break out past Seven by Seven to the next bolt line (just right of the big tree hugging the bottom left corner of the slab). Make a high step onto the slab, then climb neatly just left of centre to a thin crack leading to the top and a lower-off.

43 Prime 15m 5.7
The lefthand, shortest and easiest of the 3 lines.
Step onto the left arete from behind the big tree at the bottom left corner of the slab. Follow the arete pleasantly to just below the top then head right to the lower-off of Six by Six.

City Square has a second slab, set 10m up and 15m right, approached by a zigzag up the disintegrating slope.

Safety in Numbers 20m 5.10b
The left arete. Worthwhile.
Climb steeply to mantel onto a small triangular ledge, then make a neat pull onto the upper slab using a small flake. Move up and left to the arete and follow this pleasantly to a lower-off on chunky trees.

A Fierce Pancake 20m 5.11d
The centre of the slab. Another good route with a very hard crux.
Start by squeezing between trees just right of Safety in Numbers, then make a couple of steep moves to gain shallow cracks in a shallow groove. Continue direct to where the slab steepens at a small undercut flake. Desperate moves lead past a bolt to a short crack (Friends #0~1). Step left and go up to the lower-off in the trees.

Pancake Mix 22m 5.10d
A hybrid that makes it possible to climb bottom to top up the slab right of Safety in Numbers without having to climb silly numbers.
Style your own way up A Fierce Pancake and/or The Third Policeman to mantel as for the latter route. Reach left to the good edge above the crux of A Fierce Pancake, swing across and finish up this (you'll be wanting that Friend).

The Third Policeman 21m 5.11d
The righthand line. Similar in character to A Fierce Pancake, but with a lengthier crux sequence.
Climb steeply into a groove, then continue direct to mantel onto a small ledge. An increasingly technical/desperate sequence gains a jug just below the top. Pull over then step left to the tree at the top of A Fierce Pancake.

One more route remains to be described, out of the way and on its own about 80m downhill from Scuzzlebutt. Keep the stream on your right as you head down. You should pass a wonderfully wedged boulder on your left. Next you should pass a big undercut slab of poor rock (very impressive when viewed from the stream) on your right. A few metres further down you should find a short steep face with a narrow ledge running diagonally across it.
Note: You can also get here by crossing the stream lower down on the main approach path. Leave the path at the big boulder/rockstep (before the fixed ropes) and head right to an impressive, constantly dripping wall. Go past this and cross the stream. You should now be in a bay with the undercut slab mentioned above towering above you.
Not really recommended unless you know the area well.

Squonk 8m 5.10a
Neat moves, but way too short.
Make a long reach for an excellent pocket and use this to swing up and mantel onto the sloping ledge. Neat moves on small holds lead up and right to the top. DIY lower-off.

First Ascent Details

The rocks have been climbed on since the early 70s at least, in particular Long Slab, but I couldn't find any details of who did what. In 2009, members of Shizuoka Kinrousha Sangakkai began to take an interest in the area.

Date Route Climber
2010 Akudaikan, Echigoya, Beetlejuice Yutaka Koizumi
2010 Denkiya no Gyakushuu Takashi Watai
2010 Konnyoku Toshi-chan Toshiyuki Kobayashi
2010 Hi Asobi Gen-chan Gen Satou
February 6th, 2011 Chupacabra Neil Harrison
February 20th, 2011 Wolverine, Scuzzlebutt, Hibagon Neil Harrison
March 6th, 2011 Goatman Neil Harrison
April 16th, 2011 Seven by Seven, Six by Six Neil Harrison, Francois Burgisser
April 24th, 2011 43 Prime Nick Shannon, Neil Harrison
January 28th, 2012 Squonk Neil Harrison, Arthur Terauchi
February 18th, 2012 Amanojaku Neil Harrison
March 16th, 2012 The Blair Witch Neil Harrison
May 5th, 2012 Sleepy Hollow Neil Harrison, Susumu Takano
March 24th, 2013 Safety in Numbers Neil Harrison
April 20th, 2013 A Fierce Pancake Neil Harrison
March 23rd, 2014 Pancake Mix Neil Harrison
???? The Third Policeman Not climbed yet - Be my guest!
March 22nd, 2015 Klingon Country Neil Harrison, Francis Newman
March 22nd, 2015 Peripheral Vision Neil Harrison, Francis Newman
March 22nd, 2015 Suspended Ceilings Neil Harrison, Francis Newman
March 22nd, 2015 Under the Melting Tree Neil Harrison, Francis Newman
March 22nd, 2015 Hanging Gardens Neil Harrison, Francis Newman
2018 Ryuusou Hang ?? Honda
2018 New Hang ??