Mount Bishamon (1385m) – Ski Mountaineering

As Hinamatsuri (Doll’s Festival) passes, the gradual sprouting of grasses and flowers marks the onset of spring. This winter, not just in the Kansai region but nationwide, we’ve seen less snow than usual. However, in February, I ventured to Fukui and Gifu for ski mountaineering. The saying goes, “February flees,” and indeed it passed quickly. Although this post comes a bit late, I want to write my experience climbing Mount Bishamon in Fukui and Gifu on February 17th.

Mount Bishamon is often associated with Uesugi Kenshin, a figure known for his deep faith in Bishamonten, one of the Seven Lucky Gods, particularly revered by the warrior class for victory in battle. Kenshin, famed for his principle of engaging in just and righteous warfare, deeply devoted himself to the Buddhist path, symbolizing his allegiance by bearing the character “Bi” (for Bishamonten) on his war banners. With thoughts of such historical reverence, I embarked on my first journey to Mount Bishamon.

Departing from Osaka early in the morning, we arrived at the parking lot of Snow Wave Park Shiratori Highlands by 9:30 a.m. The upper parking lot was almost full, but fortunately, we managed to find a spot. The lower parking lot still had spaces available.

We started our climb from the top of the ski slope, but the clear skies we arrived to soon became obscured by thin clouds. While being cautious of the holes around the trees, we began ascending with skins attached to our skis. Looking ahead with some apprehension at the forested slope full of visible holes, wondering if it was really possible to climb with skis on, we struggled through bushy areas, steep descents, and ascents, sweating profusely enough to steam (^^;).

Reaching the summit with a triumphant “Hee-ha,” we found three climbers already enjoying their lunch. Like us, they had departed from Osaka early in the morning. It was a curious coincidence that the summit of Mt. Bishamon, located on the border between Fukui and Gifu—a peak not considered a major destination—was occupied exclusively by people from Osaka. It felt like an odd coincidence.

While chatting in the Osaka dialect and digging out the snow-buried summit marker, the occasional thin sunlight began to break through, illuminating the mountains and allowing us to enjoy the beautiful views.


The descent involved navigating through bushes and forests, with ups and downs that had us sweating heavily again before we finally reached the ski slope, where the thin clouds had cleared to reveal a beautiful blue sky. Despite the short distance, the ski mountaineering trip up Mount Bishamon was by no means easy.

Snow Wave Park Shiratori is spacious and less crowded, offering a relaxed atmosphere where we could enjoy skiing with a sense of relief after the descent. Now, the question remains: how long will the snow last this year?

The following day, we moved to Fukui’s Ono, where we climbed Ono Castle and Inuyama. Ono Castle, built by Kanamori Nagachika on Kameyama (249m), is famous for becoming a “castle in the sky” when surrounded by a sea of clouds. It’s a popular spot for locals to visit while out walking. There’s even a triangulation point on Kameyama, and the views of the town below from the castle, along with Fukui’s mountains including Mt. Arashima, offer a truly pleasant experience at this castle.

Gazing at the moving clouds above Mt. Arashima or watching hawks soar in the sky, it was an ideal spot for some serene birdwatching. A local recommended climbing Inuyama to get a good view of Ono Castle in the sky. It seems that many photographers visit during morning mists to capture this stunning scene. Following this advice, we headed to Inuyama.

Before Ono Castle was built on Kameyama, Inuyama Castle played a crucial role as a strategic point between the Echizen and Mino provinces. Today, only the castle ruins remain, but it’s said that the view of Ono Castle emerging from the sea of clouds is breathtaking from here. From Inuyama, you get a clear sense of Ono’s geographical layout, and if time allows, visiting both mountains in one trip would be quite enjoyable.

See you in the next blog post!

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