Mt. Rebun (礼文岳)
Mt. Rebun is the highest peak on Rebun Island, a long, remote isle located about 50km off the northern coast of Hokkaido. The hike is best known for the plethora of wildflowers, as well as the panoramic views of the entire island.
The hike: The path starts at the far end of the small gravel parking lot. Climb the steel stairs and head towards the right, climbing through bamboo grass. The initial 15 minutes is relatively steep, but it flattens out quite a bit after that. It’s 4km from the start to the summit, and the path is very easy to follow. The views back down to the trailhead and coast are quite nice before the path takes a left turn and heads into the bush. The forest here is outstandingly beautiful. Even though it looks like bear country rest assured: there are no furry brown creatures on the island. After an hour of gentle ups and downs you’ll reach a signpost which marks the halfway point in the hike. There used to be a trail junction here, but the old trail is now closed. (hence the reason for the vinyl cover over the signpost) Continue climbing up towards the summit through more beautiful forest land. About 1km from the summit, you’ll start to pop out above the tree line and will be rewarded with outstanding views if the cloud isn’t in. Soon you’ll reach the summit of a rocky outcrop with views of Mt. Rebun directly in front of you. There’s a short steep drop followed by a long, gentle climb before reaching Rebun’s bald summit. The panoramic views are superb, especially if the clouds over Mt. Rishiri are gone. Mt. Rishiri will be directly behind the path you just came from, while Cape Sukoton is straight ahead. Mt. Rebun is an incredibly shy island, so consider yourself lucky if you can get any view at all. After taking a well-deserved break on the top, retrace your steps all the way back to the trailhead and consider having a bath at the hot spring near the ferry terminal.
When to go: This hike can be done from May to October, when most of the snow is gone and the buses are running. A winter hike is also possible, but be prepared for windy, cloudy, and snowy conditions.
Access: From Wakkanai Ferry Terminal, take a ferry bound for Kafuka (香深) Port on Rebun Island. From there, take a bus bound for Sukoton Cape (スコトン岬) and get off at Nairo (内路). The trailhead is near the post office, so look for the sign that says “Mt. Rebun Climbing Trail”. Click here for the schedule for May and September, and here for the schedule between June and August. Hitching to/from the trailhead is also quite possible, and if you stay on the island, your place of accomodation might be able to give you a lift as well.
Level of difficulty: 2 out of 5 (elevation change 490m)
Distance: 8km (4 to 5 hours)