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near Shōbugahama, Tochigi (Japan)
The trail starts relatively steep after a short stretch of stairs. It then connects with a maintenance road which one has to take for a few hundred meters if not even a kilometer, this is the only part of the hike with a moderate slope. After the road the trail becomes even steeper with increasingly more rocks, the overall majority of which is very stable. There are only a few vantage points among the large deciduous trees which also block most of the sun.
After reaching about the fifth station there are more openings in the trees and towards the 8th station it improves further, the trail becomes less steep and the volcanic character of the mountain reveals itself: the ground turns red with much smaller rocks and gravel, the trail becomes much wider and trees disappear from it.
The contrast between the dark green mountains around, the lighter green of the side forest and Senjogahara, the blue sky and reddish rocks is quite interesting.
We got back to the car via the same route, it got incredibly crowded with people who started their hike after 10 AM, some still starting at noon when we got back to the temple. The long and steep part on rocks is not at all tricky during the ascent but it is quite narrow and requires more attention when hundreds of people are lining up to go up while one wants to go back down.
Due to the proximity with Nyoho-san (cf. http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=4596815 ), only 3 meters lower in altitude, the comparison can hardly be avoided. On the one hand Nantai-san has a better view towards Chuzenji lake and Senjo gahara, but on the other hand Nyoho-san is much less crowded and the trail is much less in the forest (more views from lower altitude) there is less rocky parts but the last stretch is also more delicate than Nantai-san. Overall Nyoho-san wins the contest (never mind the 100 famous mountain list which favors Nantai-san) but both mountains are worth the trip to Nikko.
More pictures here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/zc6s3qfzhu2ni1r/4F9_zr-v2y