Best Hike Japan

Tsukuba-san Day Hike (01Oct2017)

"Gama" at Tsukuba-san
Mt. Tsukuba (Tsukuba-san, 筑波山): 877 meters, Ibaraki prefecture


We selected Otatsuishi course for the first time although it was the 10th hiking to Tsukuba-san. As elementary school students walk this course as a school event, it should be an easy hike. Our family hike tends to chose easier route these days.


Tsutsujigaoka is a station of Tsukuba-san ropeway. We came here when we took a ropeway from the peak. At that time, we saw statues of frog called “Gama”. “Gama” at Tsukuba-san is known as “Gama no abura”. It was used as an ointment in Edo period. It still is sold as a noted product at Tsukuba-san although some components were changed from the original one. Street performance to sell “Gama no abura” is an intangible folk-cultural property and we can see its performance at Tsukuba-san shrine.

The statue on the hillside looks strange.
statue of gama
There is another statue of the frog close to the trailhead of Otatsuishi course.
The course started with stairs. Unlike Miyukigahara course from Tsukuba-san shrine, the route looked wider on a gentle ascent.

We decided to stray from the route to look at the statue up close. It was bigger than we expected (see the first photo of this page). Our daughter thought she could play there but it was not such a thing. There was a torii (red gate) and an offertory-box in front of the statue.

Otatsuishi course
Otatsuishi course. There is no shade of a tree halfway. It should become a tough course in summer due to direct sunlight.

From Benkei-no-nanamodori, there are lots of massive rock of unusual shape. Some of the rocks on the route have a name. Below three photos are a few examples.

Benkei-nanamodori: It is said that even Musasibo-Benkei, a stalwart in Heian period, went back 7 times (nana-modori) as he was afraid of the chockstone.
Hokuto-iwa (Hokuto means the Big Dipper in Japanese): It was named after the image of the Big Dipper.
Haha-no-tainai-kuguri: It was named that the rock was shaped like the belly of the mother. If someone is passing through the rock, he/she returns to his/her birthday suit.
(It might hard to pass through for adults.)

The course became steeper from Benkei-no-nonamodori but it took only 30 minutes or so to the Nyotai-san peak.

Nyotai-san peak
Nyotai-san peak
Nantai-san peak
View of Nantai-san peak from Nyotai-san peak and beyond that the Kanto Plains spreads out.

“It was an easy hike, daddy.”
Our daughter told me after the hike.

Route & Time

Hike date: Octover 1, 2017
Members: Family (farther and 10-year-old daughter)
Course time:
7:22 trailhead of Tsutsujigaoka course – 7:58 Benkei-no-nanamodori – 8:29 Nyotaisan peak 8:43 – 9:00 Benkei-no-nanamodori – 9:40 Tsutsujigaoka [2 hours and 18 minutes]

Tsukuba-san Hike on 01Oct2017
[1] trailhead of Otatsuishi route. Restroom is available here.
Otatsuishi course
[2] the midpoint of Otatsuishi route. It is easy to walk.
[3] Benkei-no-nanamagari is a junction. Trail from Tsukuba-san shrine joins here.
close to the peak
[4] Steep ascent just before the Nyotai-san peak. It’s almost there!

Access using public transportation

public transportation to Tsukuba-san
Public transportation to Tsukuba-san


Tsukuba Express
Kanto-tetsudo Bus
Tsukuba-san Cable Car & Ropeway

Valuable information
Discount coupon comes with Tsukuba Express train ticket and Tsukuba shuttle bus ticket (and cable car/ropeway tickets) is available at Tsukuba Express stations.

Area Information

Hot bath after hiking

hot bath - image

Tsukubasan Edo-ya
1,000 yen/adult
TEL: 029-866-0321
5-min walk from bus stop


Tsukuba Space Center
free charge
TEL: 029-868-2023
reservation required for guide tour

guide to Area Information



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  • Hello!

    I noticed the beauty of Japanese nature when I went to an English language school in the US. While staying the US, I enjoyed hiking at National Parks. I wanted visitors from different countries to have a good time here in Japan as I did in the US.