Mt. Tanzawa (丹沢山)
Mt. Tanzawa is a wonderful series of rolling hills located just west of Yokohama. The night views of Tokyo are incredible, as is the unobstructed view of Mt. Fuji.
The hike: From the bus stop, hike up the road past some houses and Japanese inns. The road will split after about 10 minutes or so. Take the left fork. Initially a forest road, the path will eventually turn into a proper hiking trail. During the first 90 minutes or so, you’ll pass by a number of ‘teahouses’ which sell basic refreshments during the summer hiking season. Horiyama-no-ie (堀山の家), is the first actual mountain hut in which you can stay. Click here to access the hut website. There’s also a trail junction at this hut, but keep going straight, towards Tou-no-dake (塔ノ岳). After 20 more minutes another trail will come in on the right, but ignore it and keep going up and up. There’s a seemingly endless array of wooden stairs along this point, and you’ll keep seeing them all the way to the top of the ridge line. Mt. Fuji should start coming into view just behind you if the weather is clear. Around 90 minutes from the hut at Horiyama you should be sitting on top of Tou-no-dake. Take a well deserved break and check into the hut if you’ve lost your energy or if it’s late. You’ve got about 2 hours of up & down ridge hiking in order to reach the high point of the mountain range. Please note that no camping is allowed anywhere on the mountain, so be prepared to fork over some money to stay in the huts. The hut on top of Tou-no-dake, named Sonbutsu-sansou (尊仏山荘) costs 5000 yen with dinner or 4000 yen without meals. Anyway, regardless of whether you stay here or not, you’ve got to traverse the entire Tanzawa ridge in order to say you’ve truly done it. Continue on the path that goes behind the hut, which leads to the true summit of Mt. Tanzawa （丹沢山). It’ll take about an hour or so to reach the top, where you’ll be greeted with another hut. This one is called Miyama-sansou (みやま山荘) and their website can be found here. If you’re a sucker for punishment (like I was) and want to traverse to the highest peak in the range all in one day, then take the trail to the left of the hut towards Hiru-ga-take (蛭ケ岳). It should take another hour or so from Mt. Tanzawa. I timed my arrival perfectly, as the sun was sinking just behind Mt. Fuji when I arrived on the doorstep of the hut. There are also tons of deer in this area who are looking for free handouts of food. The website for Hiru-ga-take Sansou (蛭ケ岳山荘) is here. The night views of Tokyo from here are out-of-this-world, especially on a clear winter night. If you stay at this hut, then you’ve got a much shorter 2nd day compared with staying at the other huts. Continue on the trail that leads past the hut. Your goal for the day is Tono (東野), where there’s a bus back to civilization. It should take about 3 hours from Hiru-ga-take. Just follow the signposts and turn left at the 2nd trail junction you come to. The entire mountain is lacking in water, so make sure that you bring plenty. Even in the huts there isn’t any fresh water and you have to buy overpriced bottled water! Check the bus schedule at any of the huts before departing on the 2nd day.
When to go: This hike can be done year round, but bring some light crampons during the winter because of lingering ice in shady areas.
Access: From the northern exit of Shibusawa station (渋沢駅), take a bus bound for Ookura (大倉). The bus takes only 15 minutes and costs only 200 yen. Alternatively, you can grab a taxi to the trailhead for around 1500 yen. Click here for the bus schedule.
Map: Click here
Live web cam: Click here
Level of difficulty: 3 out of 5 (elevation change 1383m)