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 rock-climbing area in Japan. Unless your arms are longer than your legs.
The guide is permanently a work in progress (over a thousand routes, y'know). Bear with me if you bump into 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 eddie_AT_ogawayama_DOT_com.

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

And so, to business:

A word or two about the guide:

A word or two about the climbing:

A word or two about the rock:

A word or two about the grades:

A word or two about fixed gear:

A word or two about the topos:

A word or two about streams:

A word about the night sky:


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 are becoming 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 Koumi line (it's JR). From there take a 30-minute bus ride to Kawahage terminus (about one every two hours between 7am and 7pm). 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 bogs, 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 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: Note:
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.


Unfortunately, there aren't enough climbers in Japan to justify publishing guidebooks to individual areas.
The best guide to the area (apart from this one of course) is volume 3 of Makoto Kitayama's series of guides to climbing areas in Japan - Nihon Hyaku Iwaba 3: Izu/Koushin (ISBN 4635180832). This also includes the nearby Kasamerisawa, Fudousawa and Mizugakiyama areas, as well as Jouyama and the Jougasaki sea-cliffs in Shizuoka prefecture. Current edition 2012 (with the blue dust jacket - green is the old (2001) version).
Kitayama also produced a "Selected Climbing Areas in Japan" (ISBN 4635180026) which contains Ogawayama, as well as Hourai and Futagoyama, which are the two biggest and best pure sport climbing venues in Japan. This is more of a keep-at-home guide, being B5-size and full of glossy pics. Current edition 1995.
Kantou Shuuhen no Iwaba by Toshiyuki Kikuchi (ISBN 9784894752047) covers almost every crag in the Kantou area and includes some parts of Og that the Kitayama guides leave out, but the detail suffers a little as a result. Re-issued in 2017.
Specifically for the boulderers, Kitayama also made Nihon Bouldering Area (Kami). (This has "Bouldering Area in Japan" on the front.) Be sure to get ISBN: 9784635160162 for Ogawayama. Or, better still, buy a rope instead.


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.

Anti-spam thing.