Exploring the Source of the Kiryu River, Aiming for the Sacred Mountain of Nemotoyama in Kiryu City


“Nemotoyama” has been revered as a sacred mountain in the tradition of mountain worship since ancient times.

Its history dates back to the first year of the Tenshō era (1573), when the remnants of the Kiryu clan initiated the worship of Nemotoyama.

During the Edo period, it gained popularity to the extent that guidebooks were published specifically for visitors to Nemotoyama.

The Nemotosawa Trail appears to be an original course with numerous historical sites to explore. What particularly caught my interest was the uniquely constructed “Nemotoyama Shrine Main Hall.” From the photos, it seems as if it could collapse at any moment, so I felt compelled to see it with my own eyes.

I took photographs of the items installed along the hiking trail, which appear to be part of a brochure or pamphlet issued in July of the 35th year of the Meiji era (1902).

“Panoramic View of Konponzan Shrine” July 1902
I also noticed a description of “Chiyogafuchi” in the document.

According to the illustration, the top is indicated as south. When comparing it with the current map from the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan, the approximate spatial relationships seem to align.

Proceed to the Nemotosawa Course.

After crossing the 不死熊橋 (Fujikuma Bridge), immediately turn left to find the path leading to the Nemotosawa Course.

The presence of ropes gives an advanced impression, making it seem unlikely that this is a regular path. When I first saw it, I couldn’t believe this was actually the way.

As you continue climbing a bit higher, the path extends towards the direction of the ravine.

It’s a river crossing. The water depth is about ankle-deep. The deepest part of the river crossing was around calf level. The water is cold but refreshing.

The stone markers indicate the distance to the Kago Hall, with each marker representing approximately 109 meters. The next stone marker reads ‘Nijūchō’ (Twenty Stone). So, it’s about 2.1 kilometers to the Kago Hall.

I continue along the slope of the path.

There was a fork leading to Nakone Ridge. If you feel overwhelmed or tired at this point, you can take refuge on Nakone Ridge.

After advancing through what seemed like a somewhat path-like area, I reached a dead end. Upon looking around, I spotted a bridge below. It appears that the correct way is to traverse this stone wall and proceed.

A path follows along the easily walkable stream.

The scenery is so beautiful that every spot is picture-perfect.

This stone masonry is likely a remnant of a historical structure.

I proceed along the path beside the stream, which is equipped with ropes for assistance.

And another river crossing begins. You’ve likely crossed rivers nearly 10 times during this mountain excursion.


This section was quite challenging. I carefully traverse the slippery rocks using a three-point support technique. The drop below is about 8 meters, and there are no spots along the way where one could get caught in the stream. One wrong step could result in a serious injury.

The Suikyō, which is said to have been carried downstream from upstream, is an interesting feature. In the center stands the “Tengu’s Hauchiwa,” the symbol of the Nemotoyama Shrine. It bears the inscription “Tenpō * (year) August * (day),” indicating that it dates back to around 1841. This platform was used to temporarily place the ritual implements carried during worship.

籠堂 Komori-do

There are stone steps that are believed to be from that time. The lower part has collapsed, but considering the angle of the steps, it seems that the terrain was more walkable in the past. It’s interesting to imagine what the landscape might have been like back then.

The stone steps below the [鳥居] in the image below, perhaps.

“Panoramic View of Konponzan Shrine” July 1902

I can imagine the old road somehow. Back then, there should have been a two-story basket house in the back left.

It seems to be the foundation of the torii gate.

It is said that the basket house and the surrounding facilities were washed away by the typhoon in 1902.

It looks like the stone masonry is still there.

Otokozaka (Omotezaka) and Onnazaka (Urazaka)

The fork in the road between Otokozaka (Omotezaka) and Onnazaka (Urazaka)

I went up the Onnazaka side because I heard that the Otokozaka side was dangerous.

There is a safety rope on a wet rock with moss. You can slip and get injured if you don’t think about where to put your feet.

The ladder on Onnazaka. It was installed with the ladder on Otokozaka around 1841. I climbed the 182-year-old ladder. The ladder is corroded, but it is quite sturdy.


After the ladder is the chain section. It’s quite thrilling.

根本山神社本社 Nemotoyama Shrine


I found a wooden mallet and hit it. It made a nice sound that echoed well.


This is the main shrine of Motoyama Shrine, which I have always wanted to see!


Through the peephole, there is a splendid shrine. It is a very splendid sculpture.

It looks like it’s about to collapse, so I don’t know if it will be around in 10 years. I think it is a valuable asset with historical and cultural value, so I hope the city or a fund of volunteers will protect it somehow.

獅子岩 Shishi iwa

After climbing the chain section, the Lion Rock appeared.

There are the remains of a shrine on top of the Lion Rock. It is probably the [獅子岩山神].

From here, we will climb up the chains for a while.

根本山神社奥社 Nemotoyama Shrine Okusha

After carefully climbing the chain section with three-point support, I finally reached the Okumiya.

This is the location of the [奥社] in the diagram below.

I am relieved that there are no more vertical chain sections like before.

行者山 Gyousha yama


A chain that is thought to be from the Edo period.

The place is known as one of the “Eight Scenic Spots of Nemotoyama” for its beautiful autumn leaves. It is also said to be the site of a traditional hunting method called “kasumi ryō” for thrush.

I joined the Nakaomine course and headed for the summit of Motoyama.

根本山山頂 Nemotoyama summit

I arrived at the summit of Motoyama. It is 1,199 meters above sea level and is one of the Gunma Hyakumeizan. There is no view, and I didn’t understand why it was chosen as one of the Hyakumeizan, but I was convinced after walking the Motozawa course.

I will walk along the ridge and head towards Juuniyama and Kumatakayama.


There is a fork in the road leading to Hyumuroyama. It seems to be possible to go to Jizogatake in Ashio.

熊鷹山 Kumataka yama

I arrived at Kumatakayama. I climbed the yagura and looked at the scenery.


The torii gate is leaning more and more every year. Is it about to reach its limit?

林道 Forest road

I descended to the forest road. From here, I will run to the Fushiguma Bridge.

I fell. I was completely caught off guard… I was able to catch myself, but I hit my waist a little bit.

I returned to the Fushiguma Bridge. お疲れ様でした。

Is that a bear hawk?

I first climbed Motoyama in 2018 and have been climbing it every year since then. At the time, I was satisfied with the route of Kumatakayama, Jyuusanyama, Motoyama, and Nakaomine, but I had always wanted to go to the Motoyama Shrine main shrine, which is located on the Motozawa course. I had tried the Motozawa course in the past, but I had no mountaineering experience at the time, so I was discouraged by the steep road and turned back. However, I thought I could do it now that I had some experience, so I finally got my revenge on this day. There are various historical sites in the mountains, and I was able to reminisce about the past while referring to the materials, which made it a very enjoyable mountain trip.


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