Mt. Daibosatsu (大菩薩岳）
Mt. Daibosatsu is a pleasant day hike through virgin forest, with magnificent views of Mt. Fuji and the Minami Alps. Its easy access from Tokyo makes it quite popular on weekends.
The hike: From the bus stop, start hiking up the paved forest road and you’ll soon reach a trail junction at a place called Marukawatouge Bunki (丸川峠分岐). You can take either trail, as this is a loop hike, but it’s an easier hike if you climb the trail to the right and descend via the left trail. Anyway, the trail to the right basically follows the forest road, but goes through a beautiful beech forest, with nice views of the Minami Alps opening up between the foliage. It should take about 90 minutes or so to reach the first hut at Kamihikawatouge (上日川峠). From here it’s a very gentle hike along a forest road to 2 more huts. If you’ve got a car you can drive all the way to this point, but not during the winter season. Also, I’ve been told that only customers staying in the two huts are allowed vehicle access this far. Anyway, at Fujimisansou (富士見山荘) the trail splits and you’ve got 2 options. The trail on the left climbs directly to the peak, but take the one on the right so you can reach historic Daibosatsutouge (大菩薩峠). This used to be a famous mountain pass on the old Tokaido road, a path leading from Tokyo to Osaka. There’s another hut here. The trail splits in several directions , but stay left and climb toward Daibosatsurei (大菩薩嶺). It should take about an hour to reach the peak. Along the way, enjoy the awesome view of Mt. Fuji stretching out behind you. This place can get jam-packed on weekends, so choose your rock of choice to eat your lunch on. Just before reaching the true high point, the trail enters a forest. There’s no view from the actual peak, so make sure you take a break before getting there. After taking your obligatory photo, continue on the same trail and you’ll pass over to the other side of the mountain and start decending. In about an hour you’ll reach another hut by the name of Marukawasou (丸川荘). This is another good place for a snack break. The trail splits in 3, but head toward the left and in about an hour, you’ll be exactly where you started, at good ole Marukawatouge. When you get back to the bus stop, consider walking down the main road about a half a kilometer and you’ll reach a lovely hot spring appropriately called Daibosatsunoyu (大菩薩の湯). You probably spied it on the bus ride up. The only disadvantage of walking down here is that you’ll probably won’t be able to get a seat on the return bus because everyone got on at the trailhead bus stop!
When to go: The bus runs all year round, and the peak doesn’t get so much snow in the winter, so this one can be done any time of year.
Access: From Shinjuku station, take the JR Limited Express “Kaiji” train and get off at Enzan Station (塩山駅). The train takes about 90 minutes and costs around 3500 yen. There are lots of slower but cheaper options, so choose according to budget/start time. From Enzan Station, take a bus bound for Daibosatsutouge-tozanguchi (大菩薩峠登山口). The bus takes about a half an hour and costs the ridiculously low price of 300 yen, making it the one of the cheapest public bus in all of Japan. Click here for the schedule. Likewise, Enzan station is only 20 minutes from Kofu station by local train, so Kansai-based hikers can do the hike in a weekend by taking a Kofu-bound overnight bus from Osaka.
Level of difficulty: 3.5 out of 5 (elevation change 1167m)