Hakusan (NationalPark) Mountain Climing Information

Hakusan Murodo

Hakusan Raicho-so


Outline of Hakusan

“Hakusan,” literally translated as the “White Mountains,” is one of Japan's oldest “Sacred Natural Sites.” Its history dates back to the year 717, when it was founded by a Buddhist priest. It has been considered one of Japan's Three Great Sacred Mountains, along with Mt. Fuji and Mt. Tateyama located in Chubu Sangaku National Park.


Shirayama-Hime Shrine

Shirayama-Hime Shrine

Hakusan Shurine at Heisenji Temple

Hakusan Shurine at Heisenji Temple

Nagataki Hakusan Shrine

Nagataki Hakusan Shrine

Three trails for mountain-climbing worshippers opened in 9th century

History of “Hakusan” :
  • 8thC
  • Hakusan founded by Buddhist priest Taicho, according to legend
  • 9thC
  • Three worshipping trails opened, followed by the establishment of many inns and temples which flanked the trails.
  • 1868
  • Separation of Shintoism and Buddhism
  • 20thC
  • Modern mountain-climbing and recreation sites developed
  • 1962
  • Designated as Hakusan National Park
  • 1982
  • Designated a MAB Biosphere Reserve
    Access to the top of the mountain

    In the ninth century, trails were opened from three different directions for Buddhist worshipers to approach Hakusan. Kagazenjodo is the route from today's Ishikawa Prefecture. Echizenzenjodo approaches the area from Fukui Prefecture, and Minozenjodo, from Gifu Prefecture. Each mountain trail has a shrine at the starting point, where many people still come to worship today to pray to the gods of Hakusan from the foot of the mountain,

    Hakusan Jinja (Shrine)

    A Hakusan Jinja was built at the beginning of each of the mountain trails. Shirayama-Hime Shrine marks the beginning of the Kagazemjodo. It is located in Tsurugi Town in the midstream area of Tetorigawa River, one the four large rivers running down from Hakusan. Heisenji Temple is located at the entrance of the Echizenzenjodo, which approaches Hakusan from its southwest side. Nagataki Hakusan Shrine marks the entrance of the Minojozendo, which is the trail that comes up to Hakusan from the inland area to its southeast.

    With approximately 2,700 Hakusan branch shrines throughout Japan, Hakusan has been respected nationwide as the head shrine of HAKUSAN Worship and mountain-climbing worship..


    The Hakusan mountain system is known worldwide to have heavier snowfall than other regions of the same latitude. Shiramine Village at the foot of Hakusan records six meters of snow ever year, and ten meters fall at higher latitudes. The snow in the mountain provides huge amounts of ecosystem services to areas at the foot of Hakusan.

    Mountain-climbing, agriculture and forestry being very difficult tasks during the wintertime, the mountain has very few visitors coming to pray.

    Hakusan worship is popular even today, and many traditional ceremonies are held at the shrines at the foot of the mountain. For Hatsumode (the first visit of the year), one of the largest annual Shinto rites at the beginning of January, Hakusan welcomes the most visitors of all the shrines in the entire region. People come to thank the gods of Hakusan for good health and to pray for a bountiful harvest.

    The mountain is open to visitors from May to October. It receives many mountain–climbing visitors during the peak season of July and August. Many of the 50000 people who climb Hakusan every year visit the shrine at the mountain top to admire the sunrise.

    Sunrise at top of the mountaim

    Prayers to HAKUSAN at foot of a the mountain

    Life of local people and ecosystem services provided by Hakusan

    DEDUKURI(Small-scale fire agriculture)
    Blessed with abundant alpine flora

    A primitive natural ecosystem has been preserved in Hakusan and various ecosystem services are indispensible to maintain the spiritual wealth, as well as the livelihood of the local people.

    In terms of biodiversity, the area is home to typical central Honshu fauna and flora.The beech forests and vast natural forest at the foot of the mountains are home to mammals, such as the Japanese monkey, the Japanese serow – a mountain goat – and the black bear. It is also famous for the golden eagle and other birds.

    Many wild flora are edible, and nuts, such as the horse chestnut, ferns, such as the fiddlehead fern, bamboo shoots, and green shoots of many other plants are still served in meals and sometimes sold as local product.

    The four main rivers of the Hakusan moutain system are Tedorigawa River, Shogawa River, Nagaragawa River and Kuzuryu River. These rivers are home to freshwater species, including the iwana mountain trout and the Japanese trout.

    The rich water from melted snow, of course, has enriched the vast area of farmland spread out at the foot of the mountain, therefore making the downstream area of each river a grain-belt.

    Although water can cause flood-related disaster, it is also a source of natural energy. Many hydropower plants have been built, providing many people from the Hokuriku to Kansai area with electricity. Hakusan is a dormant volcano with many hot springs along the mountainside which have been used for medical treatment as well as for recreation.

    In this region, there was a traditional self-sufficient lifestyle called DEDUKURI, in which people entered the mountain only in summertime when they left their home village to conduct small-scale fire agriculture and produce charcoal at altitudes of 800 meters. This lifestyle was continued in some areas of the national park but has completely disappeared today, now that there is very little demand for charcoal and the forestry sector has shrunk.

    Hakusan National Park and the Facilities for Visitors

    The Hakusan National Park now covers an area of 49,900 hectares, with a few small additions to the originally designated area. The entire area has been designated a Special Area, 17,857 hectares (35.8%) of which is Special Protection Zone.

    Murodo, which is located in the center of the national park at 2,400 meters above sea level is the largest mountain-climbing facility in the park. Located on the premises of Hakusanhime Shrine, it has been a mountain-climbing base for over 1000 years. Today, the Hakusan Tourism Association operates the facility, providing various services to mountain-climbers and conducting nature guides.

    Other Protected Area

    Traditional hunting used to be conducted in the Hakusan mountain system, where mountain villages had hunting teams which went bear-hunting in order to sell bear bile and meat.

    In 1969, the hunting and capturing of animals became prohibited in an area covering 359 square meters in central Hakusan, which was named the National Hakusan Wildlife Sanctuary under the Wildlife Protection and Hunting Law.

    The Japanese serow, also known by its scientific name, Caoricornis crispus, lives only in the deep precipitous mountains. In 1955, it was designated a “national special monument,” as one of the most important endangered species that should be most strictly protected in Japan . In 1982, fifteen sites nationwide became “Japanese serow protected area,” areas conserved just for this particular species. In Hakusan, the Japanese serow population is largely increasing.

    Hakusan Tedorigawa Geopark was established in 2011 as a Japanese Geopark. It comprises three areas including the summit of Mt.Hakusan and the basin of Tedorigawa River. With a beautiful gorge and fossils from the age of dinosaurs, the area continues to be a field for research studies in pursuit of World Geopark status.

    Collaborative National Park Management with Stakeholders

    Collaborative National Park Management with Stakeholders

    In order to share the Hakusan's richness with many people and to achieve living in harmony with nature through local initiative to protect its beauty, the Hakusan Tourism Association and the Pan-Hakusan Protected Use and Management Association cooperates with national park managers, relevant organizations and local people to maintain and manage mountain huts and mountain trails, provide information about Hakusan, conduct nature guides and ecotours for its visitors and protect its biodiversity and its ecosystem through the eradication of alien species.