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Itoigawa “Geopark and Hidden Hot Spring” Course

Itoigawa “Geopark and Hidden Hot Spring” Courseの写真
Hot springs drive
Time Required:
3 h 40 min.
76.4 km
Enjoy hot springs and jade, the stone of Japan, at Itoigawa UNESCO Global Geopark.

Course Outline

Itoigawa is the first location in Japan to be certified as a UNESCO Global Geopark. It is situated on top of a geological rift (the Itoigawa-Shizuoka tectonic line), known as “Fossa Magna,” that separates the east and west parts of the Japanese archipelago where East Japan and West Japan meet.

Observe raw jade, the stone of Japan, up close and learn from displays revealing the birth of the Japanese archipelago at the Fossa Magna Museum. Afterward, take a drive to further experience the activity of planet earth. Enjoy the magnificent “Hitome-Gozan (View of Five Mountains)” at Toya Observatory, and then head out for hidden hot springs in the heart of the mountains. The course is also rich in variety, with trekking along the ancient Shio-no-Michi (Salt Trail) and its mountain village scenery, as well as views of Mt. Amakazari, one of the One Hundred Mountains of Japan. As you enjoy Itoigawa, sample the bounty of the sea and the mountains together with local sake.


Mt. Yakeyama Geosite
Mt. Yakeyama Geosite

The view of Hitome-Gozan (View of Five Mountains) from the Toya Observatory

Rising 2,400 m above sea level, Mt. Yakeyama is a new volcano that was formed about 3,000 years ago and remains active today. From the Toya Observatory, the magnificent five mountains that can be seen in one view, including Mt. Yakeyama, Mt. Kanayama, and Mt. Hiuchi, make for an amazing sight. Take a seat on a bench and enjoy the view at your leisure. At the foot of the mountain you can soothe your fatigue at Sasakura Onsen, which receives its skin-beautifying hot water as a blessing of the volcano.

Itoigawa-Shizuoka Tectonic Line and Salt Trail (Northern and Southern) Geosite
Itoigawa-Shizuoka Tectonic Line and Salt Trail (Northern and Southern) Geosite

Gazing out at Mt. Amakazari from Shiro-ike Pond

Located alongside the ancient Salt Trail linking Itoigawa City and Matsumoto City in Nagano Prefecture, Shiro-ike Pond is an excellent spot for viewing Mt. Amakazari. Its name, meaning “white pond,” is said to come from its waters that turn a cloudy white with the thawing snow waters at the start of spring. The Salt Trail, which retains the charms of older times here and there, is a recommended spot for trekking in spring and autumn. At Fossa Magna Park along the route, do not forget to take a keepsake photo of yourself straddling the border between Eastern Japan and Western Japan.

Amakazariyama Geosite
Amakazariyama Geosite

Entrance to a secluded bath (Miyako-Wasure-no-Yu)

Mt. Amakazari, one of the One Hundred Mountains of Japan, rises 1,963 m above sea level and features two peaks shaped like the ears of a cat. It was a favorite of Kyuya Fukada, the author of One Hundred Mountains of Japan, who noted its “elegant and beautiful mountain shape” and “uniquely beautiful name.” At the trailhead on the Itoigawa side is the hidden hot spring Amakazari Onsen, where mobile phones cannot connect. Its outdoor bath, Miyako-Wasure-no-Yu, is a popular destination after a climb.

Course Map

Itoigawa “Geopark and Hidden Hot Spring” Course

Course Time

Starting Point
Fossa Magna Museum
40 min.
23 km
Yakeyama Geosite “Sasakuraonsen Ryuunsou”
10 min.
1.2 km
Yakeyama Geosite “Toya Observatory”
10 min.
1.2 km
Yakeyama Geosite “Sasakuraonsen Ryuunsou”
50 min.
31 km
Fossa Magna Park
30 min.
8 km
Amakazari-sanroku Shiroike-no-mori Forest (On Foot)
20 min.
1 km
Itoigawa-Shizuoka Tectonic Line (ISTL) and Salt Trail South Geosite “Shiro-ike Pond” (On Foot)
20 min.
1 km
Amakazari-sanroku Shiroike-no-mori Forest
40 min.
10 km
Amakazariyama Geosite “Amakazari Onsen, Amakazarisansou”
*Course time and distance are estimates.