Not for the faint-hearted. This 3,180 metre mountain stands tall amongst Japan's Alps and is ranked as one of Japan's 100 most famous mountains. Almost any Japanese hiker will know of the spear-shaped peak, and will be extremely impressed once they hear that you've scaled it. Be well prepared however, just getting to the mountain is long and tiresome, not to mention climbing it.
As with most mountains there are many trails to take to the summit, but here is one of the most common and easy to follow routes. You'll have to begin by making your way to the Kamikochi resort in Gifu prefecture. Private cars cannot access Kamikochi, so you will need to catch a shuttle bus (from ¥1000 one-way) or taxi (¥4000+). It's best to spend the night here (tent/lodge/hotels are all available) and set off on the "Kamikochi Course" trail around 6am the following morning. The trail runs west following the river upstream. The route is well sign-posted but as a responsible hiker a map is a must. There are water stops during the first leg of the hike, but they grow scarcer as the trail begins to ascend. Expect to have to pay ¥100 for the bathroom.
Along the way you will witness beautiful rivers, dense forests, and lots of other hikers. As you get closer to the mountain and begin to climb, these will all give way to rock faces, ice sheets, and if you're lucky, some wild monkeys. As you start to climb you'll pass the last hospitable rest spot before the summit, called Yarisawa lodge. 30 minutes on is a camp site. If you're breaking the hike into 3 days this would be a good place to set camp. If you're aiming for two days then push on.
Several hours later you'll finally spot the spear shaped peak, and another hut and camp site. Another 40 minutes up is a lodge sitting on the ridge, either place is a fine place to set tent or rent a space in the lodge to sleep.
The next morning, weather depending, aim for an early (3 - 4 am) start if you want to see some beautiful stars and the sunrise from the summit. The climb to the summit involves ladders, chains and a little upper body work. By this point you'll probably welcome it. Those scared of heights might find this part a little uncomfortable.
After viewing the sunrise and getting some beautiful pictures from on top of the world (keep and eye out for Mt Fuji), pack your tent and gear, and head down the way you came up. Expect at least a 7 hour descent, so get your mental preparations in order.
All-in-all a fantastic challenge, and a great way to see Japan from a perspective even Mount Fuji can't provide. Good luck!
- Minimum 2 days required
- Bring enough food and water to last (vending machines/cup noodles available at the rest stops during season)
- Tell friends/family where you're going and when to expect you back