Of the many gifts of Gifu Prefecture, nature itself is its greatest. Gifu, fondly called the “heartland of Japan,” sits in the geographic center of the country, among the towering peaks that make up the Northern Japan Alps. This string of mountains contains some of the country’s most famous, including the picturesque Mt. Norikura.
Mt. Norikura is the third-highest peak of the Northern Japan Alps, standing at 3,026 meters, on the border of Takayama City in Gifu Prefecture and Matsumoto City in Nagano Prefecture. Highly popular as a site for outdoor activities, Mt. Norikura’s terrain draws in hikers for its spring and autumn foliage, and skiers for its vast foothills that get covered in deep snow — even in the height of summer, in August!
Full of precious wildlife and lush vegetation, Mt. Norikura exemplifies natural beauty preserved by dedicated environmental stewardship. It’s protected by strict regulations: in addition to having rules against leaving trash behind and picking plants, the mountain is closed to private vehicles all year round. That doesn’t mean you can’t go up entirely, though. Every summer, a special bus takes visitors up to the 2,702-meter-high viewpoint of Mt. Norikura!
From mid-July to mid-September, this bus makes it possible to view the sunrise from Mt. Norikura. It affords you not only the space to relax and perhaps catch a bit of shut-eye, but also peace of mind. Forget about figuring out how to get to Mt. Norikura or even hiking up the mountain. Just travel in comfort and admire the magnificent views!
Leaving before dawn, the bus departs from Hirayu Bus Terminal, but you may also board at the next stop, at Honokidaira Parking Lot. From there, you’ll be taken along Japan’s highest road — the Norikura Skyline.
The Norikura Skyline is a fully paved road that winds through and along the edge of Mt. Norikura. As it’s situated on the mountain, this road offers extraordinary bird’s-eye-view sights, as it takes you from 1,684 meters to 2,702 meters high above sea level. The ride up takes about an hour, during which you’ll witness the world slowly rousing from its sleep. Marvel as dawn breaks, and the light changes from hues of blue to tones of gold — the first stirrings of sunrise.
At the end of the winding road, you’ll get off at the highest bus stop in Japan: Mt. Norikura’s “Tatamidaira,” a 4-hectare mountaintop plateau that gives you sky-high vantage points, literally above the clouds!
Stand to the east of the plateau, and look out into the horizon as you begin your watch for the day’s glorious sunrise. Witness the spectacular golden lights that signal the sun’s rising. You’ll be awed by the grand, luminous entrance of the sun, as it slowly rises above a sea of clouds and illuminates faraway peaks. While you’re high up above admiring the view, greet the sun as it rises over the beautiful land of Japan!
Shortly after the sun has risen, the fiery sky turns soft, infusing a magical, dream-like glow to the world — the golden hour! Don’t forget to take pictures and capture yourself in the glow.
After sunrise, you can immediately board the earliest bus back to Hirayu Bus Terminal, or stay at the plateau for a while — there will be several buses on this route, so don’t worry. Your return will take the same route in reverse, passing along the Norikura Skyline to stop by Honokidaira Parking Lot for a drop-off, before ending at Hirayu Bus Terminal. From there, a new day awaits!
Sunrises may happen every day, but they never lose their otherworldly beauty. Full of light and wonder, a panoramic sunrise view near the top of Mt. Norikura is a sight that you simply won’t want to miss or forget. Take this bus ride for a memory that lasts a lifetime!
July 22–August 31
Mt. Norikura Sunrise-viewing Bus In Gifu
Adult: 13 years old and above
Child: 6 to 12 years old
Upon purchase of the ticket, you will receive an email confirmation with e-ticket/e-voucher within two days. Tours and tickets are subjected to availability and are not confirmed until a second confirmation email is received.
Boarding points: Hirayu Bus Terminal or Honokidaira Parking Lot