Yatsu-ga-take (八ヶ岳)

Yatsu-ga-take, or ‘8 peaks’, is a volcanic mountain range nestled on the border of Nagano & Yamanashi prefectures.  The area is teeming with hikers all year round, and is one of the premier winter climbing destinations in Japan.

The hike: From the bus stop, hike up the forest road for about an hour until you reach Minoto-sanso (美濃戸山荘).  You can try hitching a ride if any cars come along the gravel road.  The trailhead starts at the end of the forest road, and you’ve got two options.  Take the right fork toward Gyoja Hut (行者小屋).  It’ll take about 2 hours or so of hiking on a well-marked path to reach the busy hut.  Drop your pack off here unless you plan on staying at the hut on top of Aka-dake (which doesn’t allow camping).   Take the trail that goes behind the hut and follow the signs to Aka-dake (赤岳).  Again, the trail is well-used and easy to follow.  You should reach the rocky ridge line in about 90 minutes or so.  Once you hit the ridge, turn right to reach Aka-dake.  There are two huts along the way, one just a short distance from the summit.  On a clear day the views are exhilirating, and you’ll probably be sharing the summit with dozens & dozens of other folk.  Traverse over the summit and take a right at the first junction, toward Amida-dake (阿弥陀岳).  The trail drops to a saddle, climbs briefly over Naka-dake (中岳), and drops again to another junction.  Amida-dake will be directly in front of you.  It’s about a 30-minute climb to the summit, if you’re feeling energetic.  Otherwise, take a right to descend back down to Gyoja Hut.  You can either camp or stay at the hut here, but I recommend hiking an extra 40 minutes on an easy trail over to Akadake-kosen (赤岳鉱泉).  This is a much nicer area to pitch a tent.  Plus, the hut has its own hot spring bath!  The next day you can either head back to Minodoguchi via a trail that leads away from the hut, or you could do a different loop hike, taking in Yoko-dake (横岳) and Iou-dake (硫黄岳) before heading back to civilization.

When to go: This hike can be done year round if you’ve got an ice axe and crampons.  Despite it’s easy access, the peak does claim its fair share of fatalities, so use caution when climbing up and around the rocky ridge line.

Access: From Chino station (茅野駅), take a bus bound for Minotoguchi (美濃戸口) and get off at the last stop.  Click here for the bus schedule.

Level of difficulty: 4 out of 5 (elevation change ~1419m)

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8 Comments on “Yatsu-ga-take (八ヶ岳)”

  1. chris ward Says:

    Hows it going? I’m hoping to climb aka-dake this or next weekend. I usually work on Saturdays so only have Sundays free. I have a car and was planning to head to Chino or somewhere close by on Sat evening. Do you think its possible to climb Aka-dake and loop over to Amida dake and get back down again within a day with an early start?

    cheers for any info,

    • wesu Says:

      hey Chris. Aka-dake can certainly be done as a day trip, though it’s not easy. You’ve got a 1400m vertical elevation change and around 18km of hiking, so it certainly pays to get an early start.

      You should be able to drive all the way to the trailhead, though sometimes the forest road is closed to private cars, and you’ll have to park at Minotoguchi and walk. I think it depends on how crowded the mountain is.

      The peak is extremely popular with families coming from Tokyo – definitely the most number of children I’ve seen on any peak in Japan (but the scenery makes it all worthwhile)

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

  2. Paul Mundt Says:

    I just did Aka-dake over the weekend, and it’s definitely a fun snow climb. The only nuisance is the general inconsistency of the snow. In some places it is chest high, in others it is barely covering the ground, so plunge stepping with crampons down from the ridge in the steeper parts needs a bit more care. The routes up from the Gyoja hut to Aka-dake and Naka-dake are fairly well trodden, but if heading up to Yoko-dake from Akadake-kosen, bring snowshoes.

    It’s worth noting that the Gyoja hut while currently closed will be open across Shogatsu (12/29 -> 1/2). Akadake-kosen on the other hand is open, and has just opened up its ice wall for the ice climbing season. The wall itself is just 12m, so a 30m rope ought to do it for top-roping. It’s a pretty uninspiring flat Daibosatsurei-esque walk up to Akadake-kosen, so going heavier is also an option, too. Beyond that, there is also an ice wall below Amida-dake, but there is no easy way up to it. If you rappel from the ridge, be prepared for a multi-pitch on a 60m rope.

    • wesu Says:


      Thanks so much for the helpful tips on winter climbing on Yatsu. I checked out your flickr photos and it appears that you’ve also been up Tsubakuro, Tanigawa, and the Chuo Alps recently.

      Keep me posted on trail conditions if you make it up other peaks this winter.

  3. Alastair Bourne Says:

    First I want to say what an excellent site this is. I dicovered it recently and am hooked.
    The only disappointment I have is that Yatsugatake near where I live is reduced to one item. As the name suggests, there are a number of peaks, many of which are excellent one-day hikes. In addition to Amida and Aka that you write about, I recommend Tengu-dake, Gongen-dake, and my little-known favorite, Kita-Yoko-dake ‘best climbed from Ogawara pass not the Pilatus ropeway). Nearby Tateshina-yama is also a fun climb if you only have half a day. and there are any number of good hikes around the Mugikusa pass. .

    • wes Says:


      Thanks for checking out the site. Yes, I admit that the Yatsu section is a bit lacking. I’ve only been there one time and only climbed the main peaks of Aka, Amida, and Yoko.

      I hope to one day make it back there to check out some of the other peaks. using your brilliant suggestions of course.

      I have climbed Tateshina twice and there’s a description on the site (though not linked anywhere). Eventually I’ll get around to making a section specifically devoted to Yatsu.



  4. Daniel Says:


    I’m looking to hike Mt. Aka-dake in early November, was just checking if you would know typical weather conditions to expect.



    • wes Says:

      Early November I would prepare for winter conditions. There will probably be a dusting of snow on the summit itself and temperatures below freezing at night.

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