Mount Tsurugi (剣山), Shikoku

Straight from Japan Guide;

Mount Tsurugi (剣山, Tsurugisan) is a 1955 meters high mountain that lies at the eastern end of the remote Iya Valley. The second tallest mountain on Shikoku Island, Mount Tsurugi is one of the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains and a center of Shugendo, a Japanese folk religion based on mountain worship. Mount Tsurugi is a popular hiking destination and, despite its name which translates to Sword Mountain, far from a challenging climb.

I come back to this point again: climbing a mountain from 0 elevation is VERY different to catching a bus or driving 3/4 of the way up a mountain then ‘hiking’ the rest. The same is for Tsurugi san.

I decided like usual to ride my bike up then hike. Always the worst idea. That day I had already climbed the 700-odd metres and hiked up 2 mountains. I climbed the 1500-odd metres to the base hike that night, deciding it was too hot to attempt during the 38 degree heat.

I started the climb from Tsurugi village supermarket at a sky-high 43m altitude. You know it’s going to be a tough ride when they start numbering the hairpin bends (I thought to myself seeing this sign).

Hairpin Numero Uno

I admit, I did not even make it to the top that night. I stopped 5kms short at the winter ski slopes. Defeated. However if I knew the ride the next morning was going to be almost flat I would’ve continued.


I slept pretty badly but managed some average star shots.


Pretty impressive elevation change in a day. Especially considering all the extra water and food I was carrying.

Details Elevation (m)
Ride to Temple 88 778
Hike at Temple 88 348
Ride from Temple to Tsurugi 3,247

So NOW the hike starts, after a gruelling 8 hours on the saddle up a 10% slope. But yeah, hard part over. The hike up from 1,500m to 2,000m isn’t that hard. Took me roughly 50 minutes taking it at a slower pace from the lack of energy. I was very impressed with the views – for once the mist had gone and I was able to see those postcard views.



I actually met a lady and her grandfather (I think) up the top. They drove their car past me the night before and came up to say hi and congratulate me on my efforts up the hill.




I wanted to do a large loop to Mount Miune, but it’s much further than I thought. Roughly 30ish km return trip with quite a bit of elevation change as you’re on a ridge. I made it maybe two-thirds of the way before calling it a day and headed back to the car park to sleep on the nice soft tarmac after a nice cold shower from the drinking fountain. Yep, this is life in its most brutal form.

I think it’s time for new shoes

… and yes, this Tsurugi is the same as Kenshin’s Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū (飛天御剣流, Flying Heavenly Sword Style).



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