The 3067 meters high Mount Ontake is one of the highest mountains of Japan located in the Nagano prefecture. It is also one of the most active volcanoes of the country. On September 27th 2014, the volcano of Mt. Ontake erupted unexpectedly which took away the lives of many mountain hikers. The fumes of that eruption still create a mushroom like umbrella over the mountain ranges that could be viewed from many kilometers away.
Mount Ontake is a place where people came for visit as part of religious beliefs. Many pilgrims are taking part of the Ontake hiking every year. The Mountain priests named the Yamabushi in white kimono dressings came to this mountain by foot in large numbers. The mountain is worshipped from the ancient times. As it has an active volcano, to prevent it from erupting and causing danger to the lives of people Japanese used to worship it as a God. There are a lot of monuments, and some shrines located all over the ay to the mountain top.
There are 10 destinations from the foot of the mountain to the extreme top. Ropeway is available upto the 7th station so that those with difficulties in climbing the mountain can access upto here. There are many small and large hiking trails available to reach the top of the mountain. Some of such trails will not be crowded while some have lot of hikers coming in large numbers continuously.
Automobiles could reach upto the famous station names Tanohara from where the hiking could be start crossing a shrine gate. Ropeway is located at the Kurosawa guchi. Another gateway named the Otaki guchi could be used to access upto the sixth station. There is a rest station at the sixth station.
The most important among the sights of the hiking pathway are the fuming volcano and the five crater lakes located on the way to the top of the mountains. The greenish blue coloured clear water in these five lakes increases the beauty of the mountain region filled ith greenery on all sides. Even various seasons decorates these mountain ranges with various flowers and colours. The lakes are named as Ichi no Ike, Ni no Ike, San no Ike, Shi no Ike and Go no Ike. The pilgrims believes that the San no Ike is the most sacred one while the Ni no Ike is the biggest among these five lakes. These two have the most beautiful appearances when compared with the other ones. Rest stations are located near the Ni no Ike also.
The presence of a lot of statues and small shrines gives a feeling of a pilgrimage site to the entire trip. The topmost point of the mountain is called the Ken ga Mine. At this point there are a lot of shrine gates(Torii). Crossing these gates is located the shrine of the mountain to here the pilgrims are coming in large numbers.
From this very top of the Mount Ontake, the view of the surrounding mountain ranges and the valleys is really breathtaking. From there we could see the pilgrims and hikers walking up in lines in large numbers to the mountain top. The rotten smell of the volcanic fumes could be felt once we passes the volcano. The blowing wind takes with it the smell upto the top of the mountain also. The destination at the top has some souvenir shops and other small stalls. Even though it is difficult to carry water an food all the ay up to the mountain while climbing, the price of the same products at the top is slightly higher than at the foot.
A journey to the top if these ranges fills our mind with the satisfaction of a small adventurous hiking as well as an experience of a great pilgrimage. It is the after the winter and during the summer seasons that hiking and pilgrimage is most active in this region. During the month of September, special rest places will be opened along the mountain pathways for the visitors who came tired from the hot and powerful sunrays.