Mt. Rishiri (利尻山)

Mt. Rishiri is a spear-like, volcanic peak towering off the coast of Northern Hokkaido. It’s one of the few mountains in the world that offers an unobstructed panoramic view of the ocean on all sides.

The hike: From the campground, follow the paved path towards Kanrosen (甘露泉) spring, an underground spring with refreshing water. It should take about 10 minutes or so to reach the spring. Fill up your water bottles here, as it’s the last water source on the hike. Just beyond the spring there’s a sheltered rest area with a picnic table, as well as a trail junction. Turn right at the junction and follow the well-worn path through the forest. You’ll reach the 4th stage (四合目) in about 15 minutes or so. It’s a gradual climb for about an hour or so before reaching the 6th stage (六合目), where the real climb begins. There’s a toilet box here for those needing to use the facilities. Pick up a toilet bag at the trailhead to use for poop (there are no toilets on the mountain, and you’ve literally got to pack your shit out!). From here until the 8th stage (八合目), it’s a tough slog through brush pine and rocks, but eventually you’ll hit the ridge line, and your first real view of the summit. There’s still a lot of climbing to do, and the peak looks so close yet so far away. From the 8th stage, the trail flattens out before dropping down to the emergency hut, situated on a saddle. If there’s any morning dew then you’ll get completely soaked with all the overgrown vegetation, so consider bringing a pair of rain pants to help soak up the moisture. The emergency hut is in really good condition, bu t there’s no water source here, so bring a ton of water, sleeping and cooking gear if planning to stay here. From the hut, you’re faced with a 500m vertical climb through loose scree and red boulders. It gets quite steep and slippery in places, but there are ropes to help you along. At the time of writing they were in the process of building steps in some of the trickier sections, which will definitely make things easier if they don’t get washed away by erosion. Eventually you’ll reach the small summit of Mt. Rishiri, which has a colorful shrine and room for about 10 people. The panoramic views are absolutely amazing if you’re lucky enough to climb when the weather is good. From the summit, retrace your steps all the way back to the parking lot. Alternatively, you could take the seldom used Kutsugata (沓形) track to descend down to Kutsugata port. The trail junction is relatively hidden, branching off to the left shortly after descending the steep section with lots of red rocks. The trail is quite precarious in places, and not for the inexperienced or acrophobic.

When to go: This hike can be done from late June to early October, when most of the snow is gone. A spring hike is also possible with an ice axe and crampons, but keep an eye on the changeable weather.

Access: From Wakkanai (稚内) station, take a ferry bound for Oshidomari (鴛泊) on Rishiri Island. There are only 4 ferries a day, so plan your time accordingly. Click here for the schedule. From Oshidomari port, you can either hike uphill for about an hour to the trailhead, or catch a taxi for 1490 yen. There’s a nice campground at the trailhead that costs 300 yen per person.

Live web cam: Click here (from Rebun Island)


Level of difficulty: 5 out of 5 (elevation change ~1500m).

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12 Comments on “Mt. Rishiri (利尻山)”

  1. Kirt Cathey Says:

    Another great informative introduction. Thanks for all the info. Now I have to find my way up to the very north of Japan!!

  2. Ernest Says:

    I just wen upt to Mount Rishiri & stay overnight in Oshidomari Mountain Hut back 4 days ago. I just to update status the junction between Oshidomari & Kutsugata Trail toward to summit are doing some trail maintenance on going. So be careful for loose stone or rocks.

    • wes Says:

      Thanks for the update Ernest. I checked out your blog. I hope your foot will be ok.

      I’m in Hokkaido myself, but down at Lake Akan at the moment. I’ll be here another week or so, depending on the weather.


      • Ernest Says:

        yeah my right foot recovered. So I also went to Daisetsuzan National Park for 8 Days Mountain Trekking with NZ Kiwi Guide Leon Roode.

  3. peytin Says:

    does this volcanoe erupt?

  4. Michelle Roe Says:

    Hi Wes

    Carl and I climbed Mt Rishiri via Oshidimiri last week. The notes are still accurate – although now there are three boats per day and the campsite fee is 500 yen per person.

    The steps that have been built in places do make it easier. The views were amazing. Thanks heaps for the inspiration.

    On the Port access road in Wakkanki there is an awesome Port Facility for travellers which provides coin washing machines, coin showers and a relaxation area. It is really clean and great value.



  5. Joe Jacobs Says:

    I run long distances up mountains and am planning to run up Rishirizan. Any advice?

    • wes Says:

      Don’t fall down! It’s steep with some sections of very loose scree. You shouldn’t have any problems on the way up, but use extra care on the descent.

  6. Ty Says:

    I’m going back to Rebun Island this year and am planning to do this hike as I was disappointed I didn’t get to do it last time.
    How long does the hike take Up and Down? Can you get up to the top and back down in a day if you start early enough? And if staying overnight at the shrine at the top, is a sleeping bag enough to keep you warm?

  7. Mathias Says:

    How long does the ascent and the descent? Thanks for the Info.

    • wes Says:


      It depends on your speed. It’s a 1500 meter vertical elevation change spread out over 5km, so it’ll probably take you about 5 hours one-way if you’re slow (3 hours one-way if you’re fast). It’s an all-day affair, so get an early start

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