The pride of Mie’s autumn! Autumn leaves at Mt. Gozaisho-dake

The pride of Mie’s autumn! Autumn leaves at Mt. Gozaisho-dake

Mt. Gozaisho-dake in the northern part of Mie Prefecture straddles the area between Komono Town and Shiga Prefecture. It is a part of the Suzuka mountain range and has an elevation of 1,212 meters. I am lucky to live at the base of Mt. Gozaisho-dake, so I had chances to hike its trails and ride the ropeway on many occasions. I love this place because of the spectacular views, waterfalls, camping, hiking, and hot spring baths around the foot of the mountain.

Written by Pete Leong

Mt. Gozaisho-dake is wonderful year-round, but especially beautiful in autumn when the leaves change color. The high altitude of Mt. Gozaisho-dake makes the autumn leaves start to change a little earlier than in the city. The leaves around the top of the mountain begin to change color in mid to late October, and gradually change color all the way down to the bottom of the mountain through November.
In the hot spring resort area at the foot of the mountain, the best time to see the autumn leaves is from mid to late November, but near the top of the mountain, the leaves have already fallen by this time. If you want to enjoy the autumn colors of the mountain, it would be better to visit in late October or early November.

There are five main hiking trails that lead up to the summit of Mt. Gozaisho-dake, but you can also take the ropeway if you’re not up for the climb. Keep in mind, though, that during peak autumn season and especially on weekends, the line to ride the ropeway can be very long and take over an hour before you can board it.

From the top of the ropeway, I usually first like to visit the Mt. Fuji viewing spot. Although it’s only on rare occasions that conditions are good enough to see all the way to Mt. Fuji, it does still offer fantastic views down over the ropeway and out over Yokkaichi City and the Ise Bay area.

If you take the smaller chair lift across to the other side of the mountain, there are lovely walking trails and even a hilltop shrine to visit. Depending on the time of the ropeway closing in the afternoons, you may get to see the sun setting over mountains on the Shiga Prefecture side of Mt. Gozaisho-dake.

On some occasions, the ropeway runs until later in the evening, allowing visitors to take in the sunset and amazing views of the city lights illuminated below. For the more adventurous, you can enjoy the night views as long as you like, but you will have to make the hike down in the dark. A minimum of two flashlights is an absolute must for this as there is no lighting along the trails.
For up-to-date times for ropeway operation please check the Gozaisho website. (English:

When the autumn colors make their way lower on the mountain around mid-November, one of my favorite places to see them and take photos is at Oishi-koen Park. It’s a beautiful little park alongside a small river with waterfalls and an old Japanese-style bridge that spans the river. This area in particular offers a lot of colorful maple trees, I have found.

On your adventures, you may even have a lucky sighting of one of the wildlife locals. In the area, mainly deer, boar, and monkeys can be seen, but on rare occasions, the elusive Japanese Serow might even show up. As for the monkeys, most pose little threat to humans but occasionally they have been known to get a little feisty. Don’t try to approach them too closely, especially if there is one alone, as they tend to be the most aggressive and have been known to attack people.

All these adventures are bound to get you hungry. I’d like to tell you a couple of my favorite spots to eat at in the Gozaisho area. One is the Mt. Gozaisho-dake restaurant at the top of the mountain. Here you can sit and enjoy the views out over the surrounding mountains while enjoying ramen or curry udon. Both are great options.

Another is Kitanosachi, a few minutes down the mountain road from the start of the ropeway. There you will find all kinds of amazing “teishoku” (set meal) options. My favorite is the squid ring set!
Both of these places are great to reenergize and warm up from the chilly temperatures.

Speaking of chilly temperatures, be sure to take or wear warm clothes when going up Mt. Gozaisho-dake. The temperatures higher up on Mt. Gozaisho-dake in autumn are around 10 degrees cooler than in the town, plus the wind can sometimes be quite unforgiving.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a couple of tips to help make your Gozaisho autumn trip more enjoyable. The weekends can see traffic backed up down the mountain roads, which can lead to long frustrating waits just to get to the car park area – and then find it all full. So if at all possible, try to visit on a weekday or at least aim to arrive by 9 a.m. to avoid the large crowds during the peak season.
Another option to avoid the traffic jams of a weekend is to park at an AQUAIGNIS’s special parking lot for the autumn season, down at the base of the mountains. They have regular busses running to and from the ropeway from there.

Enjoy the beauty of Gozaisho’s autumn colors, and don’t forget to take a lot of photos!

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