Posted tagged ‘Mt. Hakken’

Mt. Hakkyō (八経ヶ岳)

April 23, 2008

Last updated: Nov. 4, 2018

Mt. Hakkyō (aka Mt. Hakken) is the highest point of the Omine mountain range, and the tallest peak in the Kansai area. It’s also situated along an ancient Okugakemichi pilgrimage route, offering some of the most unspoiled scenery in western Japan.

 

The hike:

From the trailhead, take the well-marked path on your right just before the route 309 tunnel. The route follows the left bank of the stream before crossing a cute wooden bridge, where the steep climb up the spur to the ridge commences. It’ll take an hour along an easy-to-follow path to reach the Deai (出会) junction on the main pilgrimage route. There’s a stone marker here indicating that it is a World Heritage site, and the flat area makes for a good place to rest and catch your breath. Turn right and follow the gentle slope up a short climb and descent, followed by another climb through an area of trees toppled from the Sept. 2018 typhoon. The track has recently been cleared of debris and at the top of the next rise you’ll reach Benten-no-mori (弁天の森) at an elevation of 1600m. There used to be a lodging here but now there’s nothing more than a flat place to take a break. Follow the signs to Misen (弥山) and lose altitude quickly down a broad track for 30 minutes to a pass placated with a large statue of En-no-gyōja. Rest here if necessary before the long, steep climb up to Misen. The path starts off on a gentle ascent before reaching a series of wooden stairs. It should take about 30 minutes of tough climbing to regain the ridge line, where it’s another 20 minutes on a narrow path and over a metal stair/ladder to arrive at Misen hut (弥山小屋). Most people overnight here by either staying at the large hut or camping in a broad meadow on an unmarked trail just before the hut. A path continues past the hut to a fork. Head straight to Tengawa or turn right for the short climb to the summit of Mt. Misen, which houses the mountain deity and affords stunning views across a col to the summit of Mt. Hakkyō. To get to the high point, retrace your steps back to the hut and veer right on the path at a stone marker reading 八剣山•前鬼 (Hakkenzan, Zenki). Drop steeply on a heavily eroded path to a col and then climb through two deer-proof gates erected to protect the Siebold’s magnolia flowers. It should take about 15 minutes to reach the summit, punctuated by a huge weathered-signpost in Japanese for 八経ヶ岳. Enjoy the splendid panoramic views on the rare occasion the peak isn’t enshrouded in cloud/mist. Retrace your steps back to the trailhead or turn left at Misen hut for an alternative finish at Tenkawa (a 5-hour descent along a steep trail).

When to go: This hike can be done all year round, but be prepared for lots of snow in the winter. Click here to see what you can expect in January. Please note that route 309 closes from mid-December to mid-April because of snow, so winter hikers will need to take the longer trail from Tenkawa village.

Access: From Abenobashi station (阿倍野橋駅)in Tennoji (天王時), take a Kintetsu train bound for Yoshino (吉野) and get off at Shimoichikuchi station (下市口). From there, take a bus bound for Dorogawa Onsen (泥川温泉) and get off at the Tenkawa-kawai (天川川合) bus stop. You have three options. Take a taxi for 30 minutes to the trailhead, hitch there, or start your hike from here. If you want to hitch, make sure you’re on route 309 and ask your ride to let you off just before you enter the tunnel. Click here for the bus schedule. The lack of buses from Shimoichiguchi make this almost  impossible to do as a day trip, but it definitely can be done if you are up to the challenge. If coming by car please note that there is now a 1000-yen parking fee at the western tunnel entrance parking lot.

Level of difficulty: 3.5 out of 5 (elevation change ~900m)

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