Posted tagged ‘Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park’

Mt. Kinpu (金峰山)

April 22, 2008

Mt. Kinpu, straddling the Nagano-Yamanashi prefectural border, is a majestic peak with superb panoramic views of the surrounding countryside (including Mt. Fuji) and a quaint shrine on the rocky summit.

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). This is the branch off to Mt. Mizugaki, so drop your pack off for the 2 hour detour, or keep plodding along toward Mt. Kinpu. You should reach Dainichi hut (大日小屋) in about an hour. There’s another water source here, as well as a few campsites nearby. Keep climbing up until you reach Dainichi boulder (大日岩), a huge rock formation. You’ll see a trail branching off to the left, but ignore it and head for the summit. The trail will become considerably rockier and steeper from this point onwards. The ridgeline should be reached in about 45 minutes, where you’ve got a somewhat precarious traverse over to the top. If there’s any snow on the ground then be very careful about breaking through unstable layers and watch out for the huge drops on the right. If you look over to the left the Mt. Kinpu hut should come into view. There’s a spur trail off to the left, and also another one at the summit, so I’d recommend going to the top first if you plan on staying there. The views from the top are brilliant, with lots of huge rock formations to climb around or hide in. You have 3 options from the summit. You can descend to the left for 10 minutes to Mt. Kinpu hut (金峰小屋), take the trail on the right for about an hour to Omuro hut (御室小屋), or head on the trail in front of you for 2 hours to Oodarumi hut (大弛小屋). If doing the 3-day traverse over to Mt. Kobushi, then I’d recommend staying or camping at Oodarumi, but if you’re climbing only this peak then I’d stay at the Mt. Kinpu hut and head back to Mizugaki the following day. There is no public transport at Oodarumi, so you’d have to gamble with hitchhiking on a seldom traveled road.

When to go: This hike can be all year round if you’ve got the right equipment in winter. Otherwise, aim to go between late April and late November. I did this hike in late November and was hiking through snow most of the way. Click here for some wonderful New Year’s photos from a Japanese hiker.

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 bus schedule. A much closer (and easier approach would be from Oodarumitouge (大弛峠). Thanks to the yama girl boom there is now a bus running from Enzan station. Click here for the bus schedule. The bus is by reservation only and runs on the weekends. Please book at least one day in advance.

Level of difficulty: 3 out of 5 (elevation change 1089m)

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Mt. Mizugaki (瑞牆山)

March 11, 2008

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.

Mt. Mizugaki

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)

Mt. Ryokami (両神山)

February 17, 2008

Mt. Ryokami is an ancient, rocky peak sitting on the border of Gunma and Saitama Prefectures. The top offers wonderful panoramic views of the surrounding mountainous landscape and is a part of Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park.

Mt. Ryokami

The hike: From the bus stop, climb the stairs across the street to Ryokami Hut (両神山荘). This hut features a real kotatsu (the heater is a fire pit in the floor) and is a great place to rest after the hike while waiting for the bus. The trail goes to the left of the hut and climbs steeply past vegetable fields and enters a dense forest. During the first half an hour or so keep your eyes peeled for Kamoshika (Japanese Mountain Serow), as there are a few in this area. I saw one on the way back to the bus stop after completing the hike. Soon you’ll come to a trail junction. Both trails meet up after a few hours, but the one on your right isn’t well used, so stay on the main, well-trodden path. From this junction, it’s a gradual climb for the next 90 minutes or so in a shaded valley following a stream. The trail starts to get steeper and steeper, but you’ll have a nice big hut (清滝小屋) staring you in the face in next to no time. This hut has water and is a lovely place to stay, costing 5000 for 2 meals, or 3000 yen for a place to sleep only. (the hut is only open from April to November) Alternatively, you can camp nearby. Take a break here, as things are about to get rocky. The trail continues past the hut and then gets really steep. Some of the rock formations have chains embedded for ease of climbing. In about an hour of sweating it out you’ll reach a shrine and the trail will start to get much easier. From here to the top it’s just a matter of traversing a few “false summits”. There’s quite a bit of up and down, but a piece of cake compared to what you’ve been through. Eventually you’ll reach the true summit, marked by a signpost and a huge rock formation. Enjoy the panoramic views, with Mt. Asama staring you in the eyes, the Minami Alps and Yatsu-ga-dake to the Northeast, and Mt. Fuji poking its shy head up above Mt. Kumotori. Take a well deserved lunch break and head back the way you came. If you’d like to turn this into a 2-day hike then consider staying at the hut along the way or at the hut at the bus stop.

When to go: This hike can be done year round, but bring crampons in the winter because it can get quite icy and the main trail sits in a shaded valley.

Access: From Ikebukuro station, take a train on the Seibu Line to Chichibu Station. From there, transfer to a bus bound for Hinata Ooya (日向大谷). You’ll more than likely have to change buses at Oganomachi Yakubamae (小鹿野役場前). The bus takes a little over an hour (about 15 minutes on the first bus, and then around 50 on the second). Click here for the bus schedule.

Map:

Level of difficulty: 3 out of 5 (elevation change: 1053m)