- September 22nd, 2015
[Mt. Tarumae in Tomakomai] Lave Dome Tour That Hikers Can Enjoy Superb Views
Mt. Tarumae (樽前山) is an active volcano at an altitude of 1,041 m in the northwestern part of Tomakomai city, and is well-known as a symbol of the Tomakomai. In Shikotsu-Toya National Park, the mountain adjoins Mt. Fushidake in the southwestern part of Lake Shikotsu, and is one of 3 major mountain around the Lake Shikotsu together with the Mt. Fushidake and Mt. Eniwadake. Volcanic activity has begined since about 9,000 years ago, and a lave dome called Tarumae Lave Dome (樽前ドーム) was born on the mountaintop when it erupted in 1909. The lave dome has been designed as the Hokkaido Natural Monument since 1967 because of new lave dome. The mountain is well-known for a triple volcano together with Mt. Hakone and Mt. Asama, too, and it is said that it is a rare volcano in the world. A parking lot is free of charge.
Mt. Tarumae Guide Map in Japanese
This mountain is very popular for easy hiking because of reaching the 7th station by car. Trailheads, Mt. Tarumae 7th Station Hut (樽前山７合目ヒュッテ), a parking lot and a public restroom are built at the 7th station. Because there is not the restroom on the way up mountain, hikers had better go to the restroom before hiking. The hut is a bothie without accommodation. Hiking season is almost from late May to mid November. Except the season, Hokkaido Road 141 is closed to traffic in a winter, and most hikers must go up the mountain from Nishikioka Gate (錦岡ゲート) or Maruyama Gate (丸山ゲート). By the way, a lot of the hikers come on weekends or consecutive holidays, and the hikers have sometimes entrance regulation to the parking lot of the 7th station. In the case, the hikers park their cars on a parking lot of the 5th station, and must go up the mountain from there.
Tarumae means "A high place beside the river shore of Tarumae River" in Ainu language, but there are various theories. Hokko Tarumae (ホッコータルマエ) that became the first horse in the history of the JRA to win 10 Grade 1 (Jpn Grade 1) was named after the Mt. Tarumae. About 80 types of Alpine plants such as Alnus maximowiczii, Weigela middendorffiana (Carrière) K.Koch, Mountain harebell, Tarumaesou (Penstemon Mitch) and Western pearly everlasting grow naturally, and the Tarumaesou that was named after the Mt. tarumae is in full bloom from July to August. Shikotsuko Onsen (支笏湖温泉), Tarumae Garo (樽前ガロー), Moss Cave (苔の洞門) and Moss Corridor (苔の回廊) are relatively near here.
Lake Shikotsu (支笏湖) in Chitose city is the 2nd largest caldera lake after Lake Kussharo in Japan, and was born by large-scale eruptions 40,000 years ago. In Shikotsu-Toya National Park, the perimeter of the lake is about 40 km, and the maximum depth is 360 m, and is the 2nd deepest lake after Lake Tazawa in Akita prefecture in Japan. It is said that the Lake Shikotsu is an unfrozen lake in the northernmost of Japan, but it sometimes is frozen actually. It is famous for clear water of the lake, too, and has transparency as well as Lake Mashu and Lake Baikal. Because the lake is close to New Chitose Airport, Sapporo city and Tomakomai city, it is a popular tourist attraction that a lot of tourists visit. Around the Lake Shikotsu, there are Shikotsuko Onsen Resort (支笏湖温泉街), Marukoma Onsen (丸駒温泉), Former Poropinai Camping Ground (ポロピナイ元キャンプ場), Bifue Camping Ground (美笛キャンプ場), Okotan Camping Ground (オコタン野営場), Lake Okotanpe (オコタンペ湖), Morappu Camping Ground (モラップキャンプ場), Mt Eniwadake (恵庭岳), Mt. Fushidake (風不死岳), Mt. Tarumae (樽前山) and Mt. Monbetsudake (紋別岳). Read More
Shikotsuko Onsen (支笏湖温泉) is a hot-spring resort surrounded by forests and the lake in the east side of Lake Shikotsu (支笏湖) located in the western part of Chitose city. It succeeded in drilling hot springs in 1974, and is close to New Chitose Airport, Sapporo and Tomakomai, and 0.95 million people visit here annually. It features a few large buildings due to building restrictions. The hot-spring resort is not large, and there are 7 accommodations, a ferry port, Shikotsuko Visitor Center (支笏湖ビジターセンター), restaurants and souvenir shops. Sweets Shop Patissier Labo (スイーツショップ パティシエ・ラボ), Healthy Buffet Amamu (ヘルシービュッフェ アマム), Shokujidokoro Kotobuki (食事処 寿), Shikotsuko Daiichihotel Suizantei Taian (支笏湖第一寶亭留 翠山亭 苔庵) and azzurro (アズーロ) are popular in particular. Unfortunately, there is not a convenience store. Read More
Tarumae Garo Gorge
Tarumae Garo Gorge (樽前ガロー) is a gorge in the western part of Tomakomai city. Garo means "A river flows between steep cliffs" in Tohoku dialect. The cliff face of volcanic ash deposition erupted by Mt. Tarumae (樽前山) was eroded by snowmelt, and banks turned into the steep cliffs with about 5-6 m in height because of a flowing river. This place is one of few moss gorge with fantastic views together with Moss Cave (苔の洞門) and Moss Corridor (苔の回廊), and different atmospheres such as fresh green, fall foliage and snow scenery can be enjoyed depending on seasons. A conbination of the flowing river and mossy rocks is very beautiful, and a lor of photographers come. Admission free. A parking lot is free of charge. But there is no facility, and is only nature. Read More
Express Tomakomai-go (高速とまこまい号) or Hascup-go (ハスカップ号), express buses, run between Sapporo and the Tomakomai. Besides, Rent-a-car can be rented around Tomakomai Station.
Tomakomai (苫小牧) that 170,000 people live along Pacific Ocean is the fourth largest industrial city in Hokkaido, and is located in the central part of the Hokkaido. There are Oji Paper factory (王子製紙), petrochemical complexes and Tomato-Atsuma Thermal Power Plant, the largest thermal power plant in the Hokkaido. As for a climate, it is warmer than other places in Hokkaido in a summer or in a winter, and it features that the Tomakomai has less snow than other placess in the Hokkaido. Therefore skating as one of famous winter sports is prosperous, so ASIA LEAGUE ICE HOCKEY Team "Oji Eagles" is based in the Tomakomai. Because the Tomakomai is close to New Chitose Airport, and Tomakomai Ferry terminal is built, so the Tomakomai has traffic convenience. Read More
Mt. Tarumae Hiking
The 7th station has 2 trailheads to Higashiyama Course (東山コース) and Northeast flower Garden Course (北東お花畑コース), and a lot of the hikers go up through the Higashiyama Course. Unfortunately, the hiker is banned to close lave dome because toxic volcanic gases come around the lave dome. 3 trails, Nishiyama Course (西山コース), Gairinzan-kita Course (外輪山北コース) and Gairinzan-nishi Course (外輪山西コース), are set around the outer rim of a crater, and the hikers can go around the somma. There are Mt. Higashiyama (東山) with 1,022 m in height and Mt. Nishiyama (西山) with 993 m in height along the somma, and marvelous views can be seen from both mountains. Because it takes about 60 minutes from the 7th station at about 660 m above sea level to the mountaintop of the Mt. Higashiyama on foot, I am glad that I can enjoy splendid views easily. It is popular mountain to see a superb view with beginning hikers.
I, a beginning hiker, left the trailhead to the Higashiyama Course at the 7th station around 09:00, and I had a hard time with a rough trail on the way, but I reached the Gairinzan Toritsuke (外輪山取付) for about 30 minutes. The trail is hard to walk through because of a difference of elevation. But great views of the Lake Shikotsu and the Pacific Ocean made me feel good while taking a rest. I went through forest limit on the way, and nothing obstructed my view, so the views were very good.
I went to the mountaintop of the Mt. Higashiyama from the Gairinzan-Toritsuke. It took about 10 minutes to walk on pebbles or rocks strewed the Gairinzan-kita Course while shivering with strange shapes of the lave dome, and the slope was steep, but there is nothing on the slope that the hikers can not go up.
Small rocks are pilled up around the mountaintop, and it is a very common sight in mountains of Japan. The stone tower is called "Cairn", too, and seems to show characterizing mountaintop, sight indication or praying for the soul of the dead. It makes me feel sacred somthing. Views from here are very good, and the lake Shikotsu from a high place is refreshing, and a conbination of the Mt. Nishiyama and the lave dome does not look like this world, and non-daily life can be enjoyed. When I took photos here, a group of running men went up at quite a pace. From what they were saying, they were training Self-Defense Forces personnel, and it took only 20 minutes from the 7th station to here. Incredible!
I would not head for the Gairinzan-nishi Course, and turned back the way I had come, and I headed for the Nishiyama Course. I stood talking with a hiker on the way, and he said "I used to go up the mountaintop of the lave dome". At present, around the lave dome is banned to enter, but I do not know why here is banned to enter. A hiker might possibly dead by the gas. After all, I am scared of walking through toxic volcanic gas zone.
The Nishiyama Course was easy to walk because the trail was not steep, and there were few large rocks. I headed for the mountaintop of the Mt. Nishiyama while taking a side glance at the lave dome. Tarumae Shirne was built on the way, and it was surrounded by rocks as if the rocks fly out from the volcano. I thought of a concrete roof as something mysterious, and I was worried about the rocks flying out of the volcano. After I prayed for hiking safety, the comforatble Pacific Ocean came into sight. Hikers having lunch looked comfortable. Small alpine plants looked lovely, too.
The time it takes to walk from the Gairinzan-Toritsuke to the mountaintop of the Mt. Nishiyama is about 30 minutes. The lava domes took my breath away, too, and it was just like walking on Mars in the movies, and just admired the scenery including the paths, too. Views from the mountaintop were good, too, and I favorited the Lake Shikotsu or a conbination of the lave dome and trails. Monitoring equipments were built on the mountaintop, too, and the appearances made me evoke solar panel in space. After all, this place might be the Mars. I would not head for the Gairinzan-nishi Course, and turned back the way I had come, and went down the mountain after I had a lunch, and took a rest here. I reached the 7th station around 13:00, and allocation was about 4 hours. If I went around the somma, it will take another 60 minutes.
Atmosphere of Mt. Tarumae Can Be Watched on Youtube
|Admission fee||Free of charge|
|Parking lot||Free parking is provided (70 Cars)|
|Business hours||Open 24 hours|
|Regular closing day||From mid November to late May|
|Home page||Home page is here|
|Mapcode||545 707 576*70|
List of Accommodations
Refer to following websites for the accommodations in the Tomakomai. You can get information regarding online reviews and photos.
A page of Tomakomai is here
A page of Shikotsu-Toya National Park is here
Shikotsu-Toya National Park
By the way, Club Tourism (クラブツーリズム), a Japanese tour travel agency, provides various types of tours such as day trip tours or ordinary tours. In the case of bus tours, tourists do not drive their cars themselves, so they can savor alcohol. Choosen tourist attractions are national parks such as Rishiri and Rebun, Shiretoko, and popular tourist places such as Furano and Biei, and some activities such as hiking and fruit picking are also enjoyed depending on seasons. If you are interested in tour trips, you should visit the club tourism's website for details.
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