Mt. Ibuki

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Mt. Ibuki. More photos here.
Sitting on the border between Shiga and Gifu Prefectures, Mt. Ibuki or Ibukiyama is Shiga's highest mountain at 1377 meters (4,386 ft). It is a major landmark in northern Shiga in the city of Maibara, visible from Nagahama, Hikone, Imazu, and even from Gifu and Nagoya in east. It is one of Japan's 100 famous mountains (Nihon Hyakumeizan 日本百名山) and part of the Lake Biwa Quasi-National Park.

Although its shape is not as beautiful as Mt. Fuji, it is instantly recognizable from among Shiga's numerous mountains. The mountain unfortunately has a large, white scar defacing one shoulder, caused by decades of limestone mining for cement. Most people traveling by train between Kyoto and Tokyo pass by Mt. Ibuki without ever noticing it.

Even though it is not famous for its form, Ibukiyama is well-known for exotic alpine flowers. In summer, bus-loads of tourists arrive on the summit to hike on short, flowery trails. The cooler temperature is also a relief from the summer heat. From the summit, views of Lake Biwa and beyond are grand. The summit is easily accessible by car or bus via the Ibukiyama Driveway toll road (open April-Nov.) carved out along the mountain range. Buses run from Sekigahara and Ogaki Stations on the JR Tokaido Line. For passenger cars, the toll is 3,000 yen. You can also reach the summit in the traditional way by hiking a few hours from the foot. The nearest train station is Omi-Nagaoka on the JR Tokaido Line.

The mountain also used to be busy during winter, but the lack of snow has closed the Ibukiyama Ski Resort (renamed Piste Japon Ibuki Ski Area) for good in March 2008. The Oku-Ibuki Ski Resort further north still operates, but they too are seeing less snow.

As one attraction melts, another is starting bloom. The latest is paragliding. The Ibukiyama Paragliding School (0749-58-1382) offers day-long paragliding lessons for anyone to try. They use the slopes of the former ski resort.

Ibukiyama is well-known in legend and history, being mentioned in both the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters) and Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan). The most famous is of the legendary Prince Yamato Takeru, an Emperor's son who sought to slay the pesty god of Ibukiyama which in turn created a storm on the mountain and made him fall ill. He healed his wounds at a spring near the mountain foot (near the Sekigahara Stalactite Cavern) and went on to Ise.

More Ibukiyama photos here.

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Municipalities of Shiga Prefecture 滋賀県
Cities & Towns: Aisho-cho | Higashi-Omi | Hikone | Hino-cho | Koka | Konan | Kora-cho | Kusatsu | Maibara | Moriyama | Nagahama | Omi-Hachiman | Otsu | Ritto | Ryuo-cho | Taga-cho | Takashima | Toyosato-cho | Yasu
愛荘町 | 東近江市 | 彦根市 | 日野町 | 甲賀市 | 湖南市 | 甲良町 | 草津市 | 米原市 | 守山市 | 長浜市 | 近江八幡市 | 大津市 | 栗東市 | 竜王町 | 多賀町 | 高島市 | 豊郷町 | 野洲市