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Mt. Tanigawa-dake (#30 of the 100 Famous Mountains in Japan)

What is one hundred mountains in Japan?:

The Tanigawa peaks stand on the prefectural border of Gunma and Niigata. Rain that falls on the Niigata side rushes away to the Sea of Japan, while on the Gunma side the water flows out to the Pacific Ocean. The side closest to the Sea of Japan receives much heavier snowfalls in winter, and there is an abundance of ski areas. The Gunma side of the peaks is known for its gnarly, precipitous valleys that catch and keep snow until late in the season. It is popular, even in summer, with skiers who are willing to walk and with rock climbers.
Tanigawa-dake is one of the 100 Famous Mountains with its high-points at Oki-no-mimi (1977m) and Toma-no-mimi (1963m). The whole range is surrounded by deep glacially eroded valleys that have subsequently been modified over thousands of years by the high precipitation that this natural barrier creates.
These craggy peakshelped keep Niigata and places north relatively isolated - that is until a total of five tunnels were built beneath them, starting in the late 1950s. Parallel train tunnels were built first. Someone with a sense of humour must have been in charge because if you take the train to Doai for this hike, you actually get off at a station in the middle of a 13.5km tunnel and have to hike up a flight of 462 steps, plus a bit more, before you see the light of day! You might think that's a long tunnel but it's a baby compared to the shinkansen (bullet train) tunnel that came next. It's 22.2km long, and the bullet train which runs through it connects Tokyo and Niigata in just over two hours. Being the age of the motor car, twin parallel vehicle tunnels came next, completed in 1986. In fact, the last stage of this hike is directly over the tunnel for Tokyo-bound traffic and the track comes out right next to a huge rest area for drivers. It all sounds a bit high-tech but when you're hiking on the peaks you have absolutely no idea of the vehicular hullabaloo below.




Tsuchitaru Yuzawa, Minamiuonuma District, Niigata