Mt. Mizugaki (瑞牆山）
Mt. Mizugaki wins the auspicious distinction of having the most difficult kanji of all the Hyakumeizan. The peak features unique rock formations and superb views of the surrounding mountainous landscape.
The hike: From the bus stop, head into the forest across from the hut. The trail is very clearly marked and well trodden. After climbing for about 45 minutes or so, you’ll reach a hut and junction. This hut is called Fujimidairakoya (富士見平小屋). There’s a water source just below the hut (you should have seen it on your way up to the hut). Fill up here because there’s no water on Mt. Mizugaki. Take the trail running to the left of the hut. The signs should be marked in Hiragana (みずがき) because very few Japanese people can even read the kanji for Mizugaki. The trail initally loses altitude before coming to a small ravine. You’ll see the rock formations directly in front of you. Take a break at this flat spot, because it’s your last chance to rest. From here to the top of Mt. Mizugaki, the trail climbs rather steeply straight up the mountain. There aren’t too many switchbacks on this hamstring workout of a hike. Just look for the paint marks & colored tape hanging on the trees. It should take an hour or so to reach the summit plateau. I climbed in late November and there was some ice up here, so be careful. Anyway, the views from the top are phenomenal. You see Mt. Kinpu directly in front of you, followed by Mt. Fuji, the entire Minami Alps, and Yatsu-ga-take. There’ s trail junction somewhere on the peak leading to Kuromori (黒森), but it’s better to retrace your steps to Fujimi hut. You have several options once you return. Head back down the mountain, camp here, or continue to traverse over to neighboring Mt. Kinpu. Both can be done in one day if you get an early start. I did a 3-day trek climbing Mt. Mizugaki, Mt. Kinpu and Mt. Kobushi all in one go. I highly recommend it.
When to go: This hike can be done year round, but watch out for ice & snow in the winter.
Access: From Nirasaki station (韮崎駅), take a bus bound for Masutomi Hot Spring (増富温泉). From there, change to a bus bound for Mizugakisansou (瑞牆山荘) and get off at the last stop. There may be a direct bus to the trailhead, depending on the season. Please check at Nirasaki station. Click here for the schedule. Alternatively, you can take a taxi directly to the trailhead, but it’ll run you about 9000 yen or so.
Level of difficulty: 2 out of 5 (elevation change 720m)