Perched on the Northern side of the Yatsugatake Mountains at over 2,000m, the Moss Forest looks like it just came out of Hayao Miyazaki’s anime world.
Here, all around the quiet pool of Shirakoma Pond, a fluffy carpet of moss envelopes everything in sight, from the gnarly roots of the conifer trees to the scattered igneous rocks, as an almost sacred atmosphere pervades the woods.
In summer, the forest is dominated by deep green, but in autumn, the patch of land surrounding the pond is streaked with vivid hues of reds. The juxtaposition of red on green mirrored in the water surface is strikingly beautiful and makes for some great photography.
The Moss Forest is the perfect spot for a light hike immersed in nature. The flat trail which runs around the pond is easily accessible from the nearby parking lot and it only takes about 45min to complete.
If you have the time and energy, you could make a little detour and hike up the mountain to the Takami-ishi observation spot (40min to go and 30min to come back), where you can enjoy a stunning view of the forest from above.
*The dates below are approximate and may slightly vary depending on the weather.
Green season_ From the end of May to the middle of November
Autumn color season_ From late September to early October
Winter season_ From December to the end of March
*The winter season is great for snow hikes, but the road to the moss forest is closed approximately from mid-November to mid-April.
You can reach it on foot from Yatsugatake International Nature School, but it is a long walk on snow.
(Some mountain hut owners offer lifts with snowmobiles to guests staying at the hut or people participating in hiking tours)
Course 1- Shirakoma-ike parking lot 15min → Shirakoma Pond (one round- 45min) → 10min Shirakoma-ike Parking lot
Time required: about 1h
Course 2- Shirakoma-ike parking lot 25min → Shirakoma Pond 1h → Takami-ishi Observation Spot 40min → Shirakoma Pond 40min → Shirakoma-ike parking lot
Time required: about 2h30min
Moss Forest Hiking Map