As being called the “Last Undiscovered Region”, one cannot virtually find any record before Showa Era (1926-1989) pertaining to Kumo-no-daira (kumo means plain and daira means plain) when researching its history. The origin of its name is unknown but possibly means “When overseeing the place from surrounding ridgelines, sometime, it literally looks like plain of clouds as clouds cover gently-sloping topography of Kumonodaira” or “When snow melts, the surface of the ground takes on the shape of a spider (spider also means kumo in Japanese)”.

Before the age of modern mountaineering, the region of the Kurobe Riverheads (including Kumonodaira) had been managed as forest owned by Kaga Han (one of feudal clans in Edo Era (1603-1867)). Since this area borders the Kaga Han and the Matsumoto Han on Shinshu side, a post called “Okuyama Mawari (Patrol for Deep Mountain)” was created, and once a year, a patrol in conjunction with local woodcutter(s) was undertaken. For forest resource management, for the forest resource management, Kumonodaira, however, was not subject to this patrol.
『新川郡奥山絵圖』古写図、脇坂長右衛門筆 1836年、富山県立図書館蔵
During the Meiji Era (1868-1912), professional huntsmen ventured into every small stream of Kurobe Gorge seeking their prizes, and mining of molybdenum began in Daito Mine at Takamagahara (Iwagoke Plain) in neighboring Kumonodaira. Modern alpinism was beginning popular in the Japan North Alps, but Kumonodaira remained unnoticed. The vicinity of Kurobe Riverheads maintained an image of “Last Undiscovered Region” where the resident population continued old practices of utilizing natural resources for their livelihood, with little appreciation of nature. On another front, Matsujiro Kanmuri, an alpinist known as “Master of Kurobe”, did not show particular interest in Kumonodaira, noting, “Nothing particular to see”, and in early alpine literature, priority focused on exploration of peaks and ravines that stimulate the adventurous mind.

Shoichi Ito, founder of the Kumonodaira Mountain Hut, first called attention to the Kurobe Riverheads, describing it as unique and beautiful. Shoichi’s first career as Aeronautic Engineer abruptly ended in the aftermath of World War II. After learning from an acquaintance that Mitsumata-Goya Hut’s owner has been killed in the war, Shoichi bought management rights. He first encountered with Kumonodaira while exploring regions adjacent to his mountain hut with the aim of pioneering trail routes in the for Kurobe Riverheads region, the last unexplored territory in Japan North Alps (this episode is described in details in “Kurobe no Sanzoku (Bandits of Kurobe)” written by him).

In Shoichi’s eyes, beautiful scenery, such as the small marshland ponds scattered around the meadow, exquisitely placed stones, Haimatsu (the dwarf pines), and alpine flowers blooming in profusion, appeared as if Nature’s Gardner has created a paradise. Kumpnodaira had “Wabi Sabi” that Japanese special feeling of place that invokes deep feelings. The small hill where the lodge is located is the focus of the area’s energy and became a welcoming place for humans venturing into the wilderness. We continue to honor Shoichi’s legacy here at Kumonodaira.

For eyes of Shoichi, beautiful scenery such as small marshland ponds scattered around grassy plain, exquisitely placed volcanic rocks and Haimatsu (dwarf pines) and alpine flora blooming in profusion that was as if a gardener methodologically created might have been one sort of utopia.

He decided to build the mountain hut there. At that moment, new alpine culture, that was not just the use of resources nor exploring peaks and ravines, sprouted in Kurobe Riverheads, the remotest region in Japan North Alps.

Chronological table

  • 1905
    Usui Kojima and others established the first mountaineering group in Japan (later named the “Japan Alpine Club”).
  • 1906
    Teiitsu Matsuzawa built the Hakuba Sanso, the first mountain hut in Japan open for business.
  • 1921
    Chihiro Akanuma built the Tsubame-no-Koya Hut (current Enzanso).
    First successful climb of East Ridge of the Eiger by Aritsune Maki. The Age of Alpinism had arrived in Japan.
  • 1922
    Kisaku Kobayashi built the Sessho-Goya Hut (current Sessho Hutte).
  • 1923
    Shoichi Ito was born in Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture.
  • 1924
    Former Kama Tunnel opened using hand rock cutting work.
    Fumikazu Kamijo built the Eboshi-Goya Hut.
    George Leigh Mallory went missing while climbing Mt. Everest.
  • 1925
    Matsujiro Kanmuri, known as “Father of Kurobe”, successfully navigated the Kurobe River Shimonorouka Gorge and discovered Jujikyo Ravine.
    Jutaro Imada built the Hodaka-Goya Hut (current Hodakadake Sanso).
    Shintaro Momose built the Osawa-Goya Hut.
  • 1926
    Misuo Hokari built the Kata-no-Koya Hut (current Yarigatake-Sanso Hut).
  • 1930
    The first issue of “Yama-to-Keikoku”, mountaineering magazine, was published.
  • 1933
    Tetsuichi Kamijo built the Suisho-Goya Hut.
  • 1934
    Chūbu-Sangaku National Park was designated by the national government.
  • 1937
    Vibram Company was established, providing grip soles for shoes, and hiking boots.
  • 1939
    Tokyo Alpine Photographers Club (current Japan Alpine Photographers Association) was established.
  • 1943
    Shoichi Ito joined the Army Aeronautic Technology Research Center after recognition of his design proposal for the aircraft engine which he conceptualized during his school years. During this time, he commuted between his home in Matsumoto, and the research center in Tokyo. Also, at this time, he occasionally visited deserted Kamikochi and befriended with the local people from the area surrounding the mountain huts.
  • 1944
    Shoichi trekked the length of the Uraginza Trail to Kamikochi and visited Mitsumata for the first time.
  • 1945
    With ending of the World War II, the Aeronautic Technology Research Center was closed and Shoichi Ito’s research on the aircraft engines came to an end.
In September, Shoichi Ito bought management rights to Mitsumatarenge-Goya Hut after his friend Hideo Okuhara of the Nishiitoya Inn informed him it was available for purchase.
  • 1945
    Chojiro Uji, renowned guide for the Mt. Tsurugi-dake and Kurobe Gorge, passed away at age 73.
  • 1946
    Shoichi Ito visited the Mitsumatarenge-Goya Hut and met the “Bandits(*)”.
    He bought the management rights to the Suisho-Goya Hut.
    He embarked on selection of route for developing the Ito-Shindo Trail.
    (*) The “Bandits” were basically four huntsmen who made their livelihood in the wilderness of Kurobe Riverheads, and later came to assist Shoichi Ito pioneer the Kurobe Riverheads. They are Fujiya Tooyama (1887-1968), Rinpei Toyama (1901-1974), Zenichiro Onikubo (1914-1996) and Katsurtaro Kurashige (1887-1953). At first, they were misunderstood as outlaws who made the Kurobe Riverheads as their territory until Shoichi Ito cleared it up.
  • 1947
    Shoichi Ito started the Mitsumatarenge-Goya Hut business.
    After visiting the Kumonodaira for the first time, committed himself to opening the regions to visitors.
  • 1947
    The first issue of “Gakujin”, a mountaineering magazine, was published.
  • 1948
    Shoichi Ito rebuilt the Mitsumatarenge-Goya Hut with remaining materials from the former Suishogoya-Hut.
    Yoshiharu Koyama built the Kitaho-Goya Hut.
  • 1951
    The Hobundo Co., Ltd. built the Karasawa Hutte.
  • 1952
    Shoichi Ito, Misuo Hokari, Chihiro Akanuma, Yoshichika Nakamura and others established the first mountain huts union in Japan North Alps.
Shoichi Ito began building the Ito-Shindo Trail.
- Construction began on the temporary bridge at the Dai-San Suspension Bridge location on the Ito-Shindo Trail.
First attempted flight of a cargo shipment
by a Cessna plane in Japan North Alps.
This delivery method was eventually halted in following year after the Cessna plane, that was on covering news on training of the Antarctic Expedition Team, crashed on Mt. Norikura.
  • 1953
    Katsurao Kurashige passed away at age 66.
    *refer to “Bandits"

    Heiji Saeki built the Kenzanso Hut.
    Sir Edmund P. Hillary from the UK and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay became first humans to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
  • 1956
    The Ito-Shindo Trail opened and transportation of the building materials for Mitsumata and Kumonodaira huts began using the trail.
  • 1956
    First ever ascent of Mt. Manaslu by the Japanese Team, and beginning of the first mountaineering boom.
  • 1958
    Increasing interest in trekking after the opening of the Ito-Shindo Trail leads to shortage of lodging, so two additional temporary huts were built adjacent to the existing Mitsumatarenge-Goya Hut.
    The Yumata-Sanso Lodge was completed in the same year.
  • 1958
    The Kurobegoro-Goya Hut was built.
    Yoshichika Nakamura built the Chogatake Hutte.
    The first issue of “ALP”, a mountain literature magazine, was published.
  • 1959
    Five suspension bridges for the Ito-Shindo Trail were completed.
    The radio telephone station in the Mitsumatarenge-Goya Hut was installed.
    Construction of the Kumonodaira Mountain Hut began.
    Construction of the Suisho-Goya Hut began, but just prior to completion, the hut was completely demolished by the Isewan Typhoon.
  • 1960
    The Japan Workers’ Alpine Federation was established.
  • 1960
    Completion of the Arimine Dam.
the Kumonodaira Mountain Hut, begun in 1959, was nearly complete.
  • 1955
    Scene of Kumonodaira without the hut
  • 1959
    Construction of the Kumonodaira Mountain Hut begins.
  • 1961
    Construction of the Mitsumata-Sanso was completed.
  • 1962
    Efforts to rebuild the Suisho-Goya Hut came to a halt after typhoon damage.
The Kumonodaira Mountain Hut was completed.
  • 1963
    Cargo shipment by helicopter started.
  • 1963
    Winter climb on Mt. Yakushi-Dake by the Alpine Club of the Aichi University ends in disaster.
  • 1964
    “Kurobe no Sanzoku Alps no Kai (Bandits of Kurobe: Mystery in Alps)” (Jitsugyo-no-Nihonsha), a book by Shoichi Ito was published.
    The Mitsumata Clinic opened (during summer season).
  • 1964
    “Nihon Hyaku Meizan (One Hundred Mountains in Japan)” by Kyuya Fukada was published.
    Completion of the Kurobe Dam
  • 1965
    The Suisho-Goya Hut was completed after the third attempt.
  • 1965
    The Alpine Patrol Team of the Toyama Prefectural Police was organized.
  • 1968
    Fujiya Toyama passed away at age 81.
    *refer to “Bandits"
  • 1969
    Torrential rainfall in August caused a great flood in vicinity of Kurobe River and various places.
    In Takase River, the Kuzu Hot Springs was wiped away and in Kurobe River, the power facilities and cableways received extensive damage.
  • 1971
    Kyuuya Fukada passed away during climbing Mt. Kayagatake due to cerebral stroke.
  • 1974
    Rinpei Toyama passed away at age 73.
    *refer to “Bandits"
Observation Restaurant in the Mitsumata-Sanso Hut was completed.
  • 1976
    Introduction of Gore-Tex material for the tent construction.
  • 1979
    Completion of the Takase Dam.
  • 1983
    The Ito-Shindo Trail was no longer possible as regular trail due to lack of maintenance, a decrease in number of users caused by the construction work on the Takase Dam, and by multiple washouts in the steep terrain.
  • 1986
    Reinhold Messner completed first-ever ascent of all 14 peaks over altitude of 8,000 meters.
  • 1987
    Collection of land rent of the mountain huts by the Forestry Agency became the profit based system. In 1989, the Forestry Agency issued removal order of the mountain hut to Shoichi Ito, who protested this new system for its unconstitutionality. In 1991, this issue developed into court battle.
  • 1990年代
    “One Hundred Mountains Boom” (The Second Mountaineering Boom) began.
  • 1996
    Zenichiro Onikubo passed away at age 83.
    *refer to “Bandits"
  • 2003
    Shoichi Ito lost his case of “land rent litigation vs Forestry Agency” at Kanazawa Bureau of the High Court. Following year, final appeal of pertinent litigation was turned down by the Supreme Court and a 13 year court battle came to an end. Later, the Forestry Agency and Shoichi come to reach an out of court settlement.
  • 2005
    The New Kama Tunnel was opened.
  • 2007
    The Suisho-Goya Hut was rebuilt at the initiative of Kei Ito, the eldest son of Shoichi Ito.
  • 2008
    Revegetation Project of Kumonodaira begins in conjunction with the Kumonodaira Mountain Hut and the Tokyo University of Agriculture.
  • 2009
    A large scale alpine accident occurred on Mt. Tomuraushi and Mt. Bieidake of Mt. Daisetsu Mountain Range in Hokkaido and 10 trekkers lost their lives from hypothermia.
The Kumonodaira Mountain Hut was rebuilt
at the initiative of Jiro Ito, the second son of Shoichi Ito.
  • 2011
    Shoichi Ito effectively retired from the business.
  • 2014
    “Teihon Kurobe no Sanzoku (Authentic Edition Bandits of Kurobe)” (Yama-kei Publishers Co., Ltd.) by Shoichi Ito was published.
  • 2014
    Mt. Ontake in Nagano Prefecture erupts and over 50 trekkers are dead or missing.
  • 2015
    “Genryu no Kioku (Memory of Riverheads)” by Yama-kei Publishers Co., Ltd. was published.
  • 2016
    Shoichi Ito passed away at age 93.
  • 2018
    Kei Ito completed the Suisho-Goya Hut.