Mount Ishizuchi: How to Get Around & Hiking Info

mount ishizuchi peak

View from Mount Ishizuchi’s peak — Photo by Athena Lam

This is an informational post on hiking Mount Ishizuchi (石鎚山, 1982m) the tallest mountain in Western Japan, on Shikoku. The “Stone Hammer” mountain is most famous for its sheer cliff face and the three iron chains that climbers can use to get to the peak. Of course, a regular walking route is also available now and the mountain offers a range of hiking routes for campers, day trekkers, and hikers.

Officially, the mountain is open between July 1 and October, but you can follow the routes from the base up yourself as early as Spring, once the snows melt. In the Fall, it is known for koyo (autumn foliage); in the winter, it also offers skiing grounds. Mount Ishizuchi is also one of Japan’s 7 Holy Mountains (Japanese Wiki), along with:

  • Mount Fuji (Shizuoka and Yamanashi Prefectures)
  • Mount Tate (Toyama Prefecture)
  • Hakusan (Ishikawa Prefecture)
  • Mount Omine  (Nara Prefecture)
  • Mount Shakka (Nara Prefecture)
  • Daisen (Tottori Prefecture)

In this post, you’ll find information on:

  • Getting to and from Mount Ishizuchi
  • Local hiking route map
  • Lodging information
  • Basic vocabulary (for map reading mostly)

You’ll find further information in these posts:

Getting In and Out:

The closest major cities to Mount Ishizuchi are Takamatsu (Kagawa Prefecture) and Matsuyama (Ehime Prefecture). Many people who drive across the Shimanami Kaido will also stop at Imabari, which is a small city that’s a few stops from the closest train station.

This guide is only for people taking public transit, which includes trains, a local bus, and a ropeway up the mountain. I’m not familiar with driving routes!

Getting in:

  1. Use Google Maps to search your train route to Japan Rail (JR) Iyo-Saijō Station. Google maps in Japan is very reliable and has exact train times.
  2. Take a bus from outside Iyo-Saijo Station to Ishizuchiyama (JR伊予西条駅 → 石鎚ロープウェイ前). Note: 4 daily buses only.
  3. Get off at Ishizuchiyama (石鎚山) stop.
  4. Walk up a hill to take the ropeway.
  5. Take the Ishizuchi Tōzan Ropeway (石鎚登山ロープウェイ) up the mountain. (¥1000 adult one-way, ¥1950 round trip)

Getting out:

  1. Take the Ishizuchi Tōzan Ropeway (石鎚登山ロープウェイ) back down the mountain.
  2. Take the bus back to Iyo Saijo Station.
  3. Take the train from Iyo-Saijo Station back to where you are staying.

The connections I used is in my Mount Ishizuchi: Overview post.

Train:

shikoku JR yosan line ishizuchi train

Anpanman Train on the JR Shikoku Yosan Line — Photo by Athena Lam

You must note the exact trains that match the 4 scheduled bus times.

For example, to meet the 10:27 morning bus from Iyo-Saijo Station you would have to take:

  • From Takamatsu: Ishizuchi #7, departing at 8:44
  • From Okayama: Shiokaze #3, departing 8:30
  • From Matsuyama: Shiokaze #12 departing at 9:12

I took an early train from Imabari to catch the 7:47 bus from Iyo-Saijo.

You can look up the train prices on Hyperdia, but if you have a JR Pass or All-Shikoku Pass it doesn’t matter.

Bus Times:

shikoku henro nojuku 四国お遍路 野宿 伊予西条駅

JR Iyo Saijo Station Bus stop for Mount Ishizuchi (look for the timetable) — Photo by Athena Lam

Buses in Japan are pretty punctual. Surprisingly, mine at 7:47 was not that day. The tip is, definitely be on time because buses will leave on time, but don’t panic if it’s not on the dot! The bus stop has several different bus routes, so make sure you look at the bus sign before getting on. Don’t just get on any bus that arrives at 7:47. The bus you’re looking for has the route name blow

The route for the bus is: JR伊予西条駅 → 石鎚ロープウェイ前

The return route for the bus is:  石鎚ロープウェイ前 → JR伊予西条駅

JR Iyo-Saijo Station to Mt. Ishizuchi Ropeway Timetable(※2017 Version)
※Weekends, Weekdays, Holidays
Iyo-Saijo Station 07:47 10:27 13:37 16:23
Kawaguchi 08:33 11:13 14:23 17:09
Ropeway 08:41 11:21 14:31 14:33
Nishinogawa 08:43 11:23 14:33 17:19
Check the latest times on the Setouchi Bus (Japanese Only)
ishizuchi ropeway bus stop

Where you get off to take the ropeway up to Ishizuchi.

ishizuchi ropeway bus stop

The bus stop for the return ride to JR Iyo-Saijo Station is on the opposite side of the street.

Mt. Ishizuchi Ropeway to JR Iyo-Saijo Station(2017 Version)
Nishinogawa 06:54 09:10 12:00 15:15 17:20
Ropeway 06:56 09:12 12:02 15:17 17:23
Kawaguchi 7:04 9:20 12:10 15:25 17:31
Iyo-Saijo Station 07:50 10:06 12:56 16:11 18:17
◆:Not running on Sundays or Holidays
Check the latest times on the Setouchi Bus (Japanese Only)
ishizuchi ropeway bus ticket

An old school bus ticket that the little souvenir shop beside the bus stop sells (bus takes cash too). 

Ishizuchi Tōzan Ropeway Times

ishizuchi ropeway cable car

Mount Ishizuchi Ropeway cablecar — Photo by Athena Lam

Translation of the Japanese Ropeway Timetable

Departures are every 20 minutes, so at 0:00, 0:20, and 0:40.

Price: ¥1950 Adults, ¥980 Children

I went in the summer and the ropeway opens at 9:00am. This means that if you take the 7:47am bus, you will probably have a little bit of extra time.

New Years (Jan 1) 4:00 ~ 18:00

Jan 2~ Apr
Daily

8:40 ~ 17:00

※Ski ground is open from late December to early March (skii ground hours (Japanese).

May~ Jun 8:40 ~ 17:00 (Weekdays)
7:40 ~ 18:00 (Weekends & Holidays)
Ishizuchi Festival
Jul 1-10

4:20 ~ 18:20 (Weekdays)
3:00 ~ 18:20 (Weekend)

Jul 11~ Aug

8:00 ~ 18:00 (Weekdays)
7:20 ~ 18:20 (Weekends, Holidays, Obon 8/13-16)
Sep 8:40 ~ 17:00 (Weedays)
7:40 ~ 18:00 (Weekends & Holidays)

Oct~ Nov 3

8:20 ~ 17:00 (Weekdays)
7:40 ~ 18:00 (Weekends & Holidays)
Nov 4~ Dec
Daily

8:40 ~ 17:00

※Late December – Early March the skii grounds are open Japanese ski ground schedule (Japanese).

Closures

April 10-14 (Full day)

Mount Ishizuchi Climbing Route

Mount Ishizuchi is famous for three sets of iron chains that climbers traditionally used to get to the peak. These days, a walking route is also available. I would recommend printing the English map for climbing Mount Ishizuchi as I found the information and route estimations quite accurate and helpful.

Mount ishizuchi english route map

Mount Ishizuchi English hiking route map from Iyo-Saijo (PDF link here)

The most popular route, from the Ishizuchi Ropeway (cable car) is also the shortest. The recommended time for the route is 3 hours up, and 3 hours down, which probably factors in plenty of time to enjoy the scenery. I did the route in 2:26 going up (moving time 1:53) and 1:29 going down.

I have a separate hiking diary entry with photos to give a sense of the route and the 3 sets of chains that people would be climbing.

Lodgings

ishizuchi ryokan 日の出山旅館

Ryokan by the Ishizuchi Chugu Joju Shrine — Photo by Athena Lam

Note that most places on Shikoku only speak Japanese, and a phone reservation prior is recommended. If you walk in, you will want to ask if there is room that day by noon, although the room may not be prepared until after 3pm. Most places come with a dinner prepared, and maybe a breakfast as well. The prices differ based on how many meals you want.

Below is a list of lodgings at Mount Ishizuchi. There is one lodge at the peak, and a cluster of places to stay at the top of the ropeway.

Shimotani (Base of the Ropeway)

Onsen Ryokan Kyoya (京屋旅館)  0897-59-0335
106 Nishinokawako, Saijo, Ehime Prefecture 793-0215, Japan

To be honest, from the outside, it doens’t look the greatest. Assuming the price is around the same as the ryokans at the top of the ropeway, I would suggest staying in one of those instead. Of course, if you want an onsen, then this is the one to stay at after a long day.

In Ishizuchi Komatsucho

*30 mins walk after the top of the Ishizuchi Ropeway, where the Ishizuchi Chugu Jojusha Shrine and entrance to the Ishizuchi trail is。

Hinodeya Ryokan (日の出山旅館)  0897-59-0143

Tamaya Ryokan (玉屋旅館)  0897-59-0415

Shiraishi Ryokan (白石旅館)  0897-59-0032

The three ryokan are the only buildings on the mountain that you will definitely pass when walking from the ropeway station to the Mount Ishizuchi trail. Together with the Joju Shrine.

At Mount Ishizuchi Peak

ishizuchi Chōjō-sansō 頂上山荘

Chōjō-sansō (頂上山荘) at the peak requires you to take rubbish down yourself — Photo by Athena Lam

Chōjō-sansō (頂上山荘),  0897-55-4168, The name actually means summit lodge description of this mountain hut run by the temple. It’s open from early May to early November. The lodging is pretty basic, but still costs ¥8500 with two meals, so budget yourself before deciding to just show up!

Useful Vocabulary (especially for map reading)

Note that all vowels are pronounced in consistently in Japanese. This means:

  • a = short a (as in ‘bat, at’)
  • i = ee (as in ‘tree’)
  • u = oo (as in ‘too’)
  • e = short e (as in ‘get’)
  • o = long o (as in ‘role, sole, coal’)
  • ai = long i (as in ‘I‘)
  • ei = long a (as in ‘Say’)
  • yu = long u (as in ‘shoe’)
  • oe = long o + short e (oh + eh?), two sounds
Map:
  • Peak – (Sanchō) 山頂
  • Information – annai (案内)
  • Bus – basu (バス)
  • Bus stop – basu tei (バス停)
  • Station – eki (駅)
  • Toilet – toire (トイレ) or tearai (手洗い )

Places

  • Iyo-Saijo JR Station – Iyo Saijo Eki (伊予西条駅)
  • Ishizuchi Cable Car – Ishizuchi ropuwei mae (石鎚ロープウェイ前)
  • Mount Tengu Peak – Tengudake 天狗岳

Accommodation / Bookings

  • Inns – ryokan (旅館), Minshuku (民宿) , Shukubo (宿坊)
  • Reservation – yoyaku onegai shimasu (予約お願いします)
  • Stay 1 night – ippaku (一泊)
  • Stay 2 nights – nipakku (2泊)
  • One person – hitoride (一人で)
  • Two / three / four people – ninin / sannin / yonin (2人、3人、4人)
  • Meals – shokuji (食事)
  • Stay without meals – sudomari (素泊まり) * otherwise usually at least one meal is assumed.
If you have a pocket wi-fi or SIM, you can check out my list of apps for local travel. I had a pocket wi-fi on me and the reception was good.
Check out my information on hiking the Dewa Sanzan in Yamagata if you want to go somewhere else local!

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