Location: Zenibako, Otaru (Shiribeshi)
Type: Hike Altitude: 537m (~400m elevation gain)
Length: Half-day (3km; 2 hour return)
Hiked on: May 7th, 2015
“Tengu” is a generic given name to many many mountains in Japan, usually with a steep rocky cliff face. The more famous “Tengu Mountain” in Otaru is probably the Tengudake you can see from the centre of the city with a ropeway and a ski hill on it, but this one is also fairly visible when you are driving from Sapporo to Otaru on the Number 5 National Road (国道５号線.)
Access to the trailhead is a bit tricky to explain so you might be best off trying to find it on Google Maps. The trailhead starts at the gate next to the gravel parking lot. Go past the gate up the gravel road, and you’ll see a bear warning sign and a small dam. Go across the dam to the left and you’ll enter the hiking trail. After about 5~10 minutes, you’ll get to Zeniten Hut (銭天山荘) which is run by the Sapporo Mountain Club. The hut is closed to the general public, but to be honest no one needs a hut in a place this close to civilization.. Go past the hut to the left and the trail runs along a gully until it suddenly climbs steeply onto the ridge. The rest of the hike is quite steep as well, and the loose dirt underfoot can make it rather slippery. There are ropes to help you up the really steep sections. Eventually you’ll hit an opening where you can see the rocky face of the mountain. The trail snakes around to the right to reach the summit. There are great views of Sapporo and the neighbouring Mount Teine (and the ski area,) but you can’t really see much to the west. The summit has some nice rocks to sit on and is a good place to chill out for a bit.
In the past, I’ve always climbed Shioya Maruyama (also in Otaru but on the other side closer to Yoichi) as the first dry hike of the year, but this one I believe is free of snow even earlier. A good hike if you want some cheap views of the city without too much work, and a nice one to do with friends (unless they do not appreciate falling on their butt on the way down.)