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Mount Ibuki: We Found a Secret Mountain Shortcut That Took Us To Incredible Views in Just 20 Minutes

Mount Ibuki: We Found a Secret Mountain Shortcut That Took Us To Incredible Views in Just 20 Minutes

Date published: 19 February 2020
Last updated: 6 October 2020

The tallest mountain in Shiga Prefecture, Mount Ibuki stands at 1,377m tall. Residents cherish it as one of the top 100 mountains in Japan.

Not only can you reach the peak in a minimum of 20 minutes on foot, but you can also get a magnificent view of Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan, which makes it extremely popular for tourists.

Here we’ve taken a look at the walking paths that beginners can use to make the most of Mount Ibuki.

A flower field of alpine plants (photo provided by Maibara Tourism Association)

Reach Mount Ibuki's 9th Station via Ibukiyama Driveway

Mount Ibuki's climbing season starts from spring and ends in summer. Many hikers and tourists visit Mount Ibuki for the good weather, the magnificent view of Lake Biwa, and the various alpine plant flower fields.

Mount Ibuki cherished by Shiga Prefecture citizens

To access Mount Ibuki, there are two major methods. First is to take the hiking path starting in Ueno Maibara City, Shiga Prefecture, which takes about 3 hours one way. Or you can take the toll road Ibukiyama Driveway starting from Sekigahara-cho, Gifu Prefecture, and reaching the 9th station. At the 9th station there is Sky Terrace Ibukiyama, where you can purchase food and gifts, and from there you can climb to the peak.

This time we decided to take the beginner-friendly method to the peak from the 9th station!

From Ibukiyama entrance to Sky Terrace Ibukiyama, it takes about 30 to 40 minutes on the winding mountain road.

First, get off at Meinshin Expressway Sekigahara Interchange and enter Ibukiyama Driveway from Ibukiyama entrance. It is a single road to the 9th station, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost. When we visited in June, we could see vibrant green everywhere. The air feels incredibly clear and refreshing.

You can see the view of the foot of the mountain between the mountains as you go up. You can even see Lake Biwa from here (the view from the parking lot before Sky Terrace)
  • Ibukiyama Driveway
    • Address Starting Point: 1586 Teraya. Sekigahara Oaza, Sekigahara-cho, Fuwa-gun, Gifu/Destination Point: 1632 Nodayama, Okubo, Maihara-shi, Shiga
    • Phone Number 0584-43-1155
    • Operation Period: 3rd Sunday of April - last Sunday of November (planned)
      Hours: 3:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. (3rd Saturday of July - August), 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. (3rd Saturday of April - the day before the 3rd Saturday of July, and September), 8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. (October - last Sunday of November)
      *schedule may vary due to weather
      Closed: will remain open during operation period
      Fee: normal vehicle and light vehicle 3,090 yen (tax included)
      *round trip fee and parking included

20 Minutes on Foot! Two Routes to the Peak

Once you park your car at Sky Terrace Ibukiyama, it is time to head to the peak. There are 3 different routes “West,” “Center,” and “East” and each has different difficulties. You can only use “West” and “Center” to ascend.

Mount Ibuki mountain paths

The West mountain path entrance is located past the parking area of the Sky Terrace Ibukiyama, and the route goes along the west side of the mountain.

The path is well maintained with gravel, which makes it easier to walk along. The West mountain path is the best route to walk along if you want to get a great view while walking and see alpine plants.

The entrance of the West mountain path. This sign shows “40 minutes to the peak”

On the other hand, the Center mountain path is the shortest and only requires about 20 minutes to reach the peak. Since it goes directly to the peak along the bare hillside, there are steep steps along the way.

We recommend taking the Center mountain path, if you wish to reach the peak and then leisurely enjoy the view.

The Center mountain path is well maintained and not too hard to climb (photo provided by Maibara Tourism Association)

The East mountain path is reserved for people going down, and compared to West and Center mountain path, it is left in a more natural state. There are some flowers that can only be seen here, but the path is meant for more experienced people.

We decided to take the scenic climbing route and went up the West mountain path and challenged ourselves with the Center mountain path on the way down!

[West Mountain Path] Soothed by the Flowers Swaying in the Wind and Birds Chirping

[West Mountain Path] Soothed by the Flowers Swaying in the Wind and Birds Chirping
The West mountain path has a gentle slope. Nothing to obscure the view of the sky and mountain!
The path is well maintained, but we still recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes for safety reasons.

When you enter the West mountain path, you will see the blue sky upfront, the mountainside to the left, and other mountains of the Ibukiyama mountain range to the right. You get a nice panoramic view, and it feels great!

The nice occasional breeze, birds chirping, and flowers swaying in the wind, really cleanses your body and soul while walking.

Looking back, you can see the mountains of the Ibukiyama mountain range. Immersed in the great outdoors, it makes you want to breathe in more of that fresh air

Looking down, we found alpine plants such as vincetoxicum acuminatum, sedum subtile, spiraea nervosa, valeriana fauriei, and thistle that were starting to bloom.

Vincetoxicum acuminatum blooms white flowers (best time to see: late May - June)
Sedum subtile grows along the bare hillside (best time to see: June)
Spiraea nervosa that looks like a cute traditional Japanese ball (best time to see: mid-May - mid-June)
The cute valeriana fauriei with vibrant colors (best time to see: June)
There were many insects like butterflies around the flowers

From June to August, there are many flowers that bloom along the mountainside. It looks like a flower field in the sky and charms many climbers.

Colorful flower field from July - August! The vibrant pink filipendula are beautiful (photo provided by Maibara Tourism Association)
A flower field of filipendula near the peak (photo provided by Maibara Tourism Association)
Thistle flowers that color the mountain (best time to see: August - September)

After casually walking for about 50 minutes, we can finally see the peak. Before the peak, there is an observation deck where you can look down on Lake Biwa. Let’s head over to the observation deck first.

Veer to the right from the West mountain path

You will reach the observation deck in about a minute. The observation deck is just an area with a simple fence. However, if you watch your footing and lookout, you can get the full view of Lake Biwa! It’s a magnificent panoramic view. This view is only possible at Mount Ibuki, the largest mountain in the prefecture. A rare sight that is only available unless you climb this far.

Overwhelmed by the spectacular view of Lake Biwa!

Finally Arriving at the Peak! A Well Deserved Break

It’s finally time to reach the peak after leaving the observation area! Even though we started at the 9th station, it’s quite a workout. You get such a rush once you reach the peak.

Found the official mountain peak sign. The feeling of accomplishment settles in
The statue of Yamato Takeru no Mikoto next to the sign. The statue was placed there due to the legend of Yamato Takeru no Mikoto being mortally wounded after trying to defeat a powerful deity

Since there aren’t any mountains taller than Mount Ibuki in the area, you can get a full 360-degree view from the peak. On a clear sky day you can see Lake Biwa and Hieizan to the west, the cityscape of Gifu Prefecture to the east, Suzuka Mountain range, and Ise Bay to the south and Mount Ontake, Japanese Alps and even Mount Fuji!

You can’t fully see Lake Biwa from the peak because it’s so big! Even if it’s cloudy and hard to see, with some time the cloud might float away (Photo provided by Maibara Tourism Association)
A monument that shows what is located in each direction. We recommend enjoying the view of all directions. Or you can sit at a bench and catch your breath

Let’s stop by the resting area at the peak. They have coffee, soft cream, light meals such as curry and soba, and even sake. Meals at the peak taste much better than usual.

Once you see the cafe and lodge at the peak, a sense of ease settles in. The friendly staff are there to help you relax
Eating soft ice cream (400 yen) looking at the view from the bench on the peak is exquisite It blows away all your fatigue
The peak is relatively flat and easy to walk around.

Descending Mount Ibuki via the Center Path takes about 20 Minutes to the 9th Station

Descending Mount Ibuki via the Center Path takes about 20 Minutes to the 9th Station
If you look down the Center mountain path from the peak, you can see the steep stairs going down. For people who have weak legs or a bad back, you should go back down the West mountain path

Once we caught our breath, we went down the Center mountain path, the shortest route to Sky Terrace Ibukiyama. You can see various alpine plants and beautiful scenery from this route too. Since the route goes straight, we arrived at the 9th station in no time.

Meals and Gifts at Sky Terrace Ibukiyama

Once you returned to the 9th station, lets head over to the Sky Terrace Ibukiyama, which sells gifts and also has a dining area. The front of the store is the gift area, and the back part is the dining area.

Sky Terrace at the very back of the parking area. On the left side of the store, there is a three-story tall observation space

In the gift section, there are many local specialty items. We strongly recommend the Ibuki Hyakka Mitsu, honey made from flowers that only bloom between May and July on Mount Ibuki. It has a deep unique flavor that is quite addicting.

When a honey bee gathers nectar from various flowers, it brings out a deeper flavor from the honey. Ibuki Hyakka Mitsu (150g, 1,100 yen)

According to a theory, the first area soba was introduced in Japan was around the base of Mount Ibuki, and since then Mount Ibuki has been called the “place of origin for soba.” Also the mountain has unique medicinal herbs and also called the “treasure chest of medicinal herbs.” For that reason bath additives blended with herbal medicine and soba are popular at the store. Taking a bath with herbal medicine bath additives and eating a bowl of soba after your hike might be a good way to finish your day.

The soba has a nice texture, and the soup is slightly sweet. Also the fresh sansai (mountain vegetables) matches the perfectly. Ibuki Soba (Sansai) (870 yen)

The dining area in the back has a nice menu with soba, udon, and curry. Since it’s the place of origin for soba, their popular menu is Ibuki Soba with either sansai or kakiage (type of tempura with various ingredients) toppings.

At the cafe corner, they server “Ibuki Meisui Cofee” (300 yen) and “Herb Tea” (350 yen) made with spring water from the base of Mount Ibuki. How about a relaxing moment at the terrace looking at the Ibuki Mountains?

If the weather conditions are right, you can even see unkai (sea of clouds) from the Sky Terrace parking lot. Summer is the best opportunity to view the unkai since the driveway is open from 3:00 a.m. (photo provided by Maibara Tourism Association)

From July 14th - end of August, there is the very convenient Ibukiyama Tozan Bus that operates every day from Maibara Station to Sky Terrace Ibukiyama (1,400 yen one way).

  • Sky Terrace Ibukiyama
    • Address Nodayama, Okubo, Maibara-shi, Shiga
    • Phone Number 0584-43-1155
    • Operation Period: 3rd Sunday of April - last Sunday of November (planned)
      Hours: 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (3rd Saturday of July - August), 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
      *Food corner 10:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m all days
      *May change due to weather conditions
      Closed: open during operation period

We also recommend the autumn leaves season. From early October to mid-October, the peak area starts to color, and from mid-November to the end of the month the midslope of the mountain enters the best viewing period. The mountain turns red and yellow and provides us a wonderful view.

Mount Ibuki covered in vibrant colors (Photo provided by Ibukiyama Driveway)

Mount Ibuki is a famous mountain with an altitude of more than 1,300m; however it is still a place where beginners can casually climb. How about escaping to the great outdoors and refreshing yourself?

  • Mount Ibuki
    • Address Ueno, Maibara-shi, Shiga
    • You may walk about freely
      0749-58-2227 (Maibara Tourism Association)

* All prices mentioned include tax.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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