Mt. Yari (槍ヶ岳)

This blog post was written back in 2008. For the latest information about this hike (including color photos and maps), please consider purchasing my guidebook to the Japan Alps. 

Mt. Yari is one of the most famous peaks in the Kita Alps, and on the ‘must climb’ list of just about every Japanese hiker. Its remote access means that it’s impossible to do as a day trip, unless you fancy hiking over 40km in one day!

The hike: From Kamikochi bus terminal, take the trail that heads toward Kappabashi, but instead of crossing the bridge, stay on the same side of the river. You can basically follow the signposts toward Yari-ga-take (槍ヶ岳). It’s 22km one way from Kamikochi to the summit of Mt. Yari. Most guidebooks say to allow 2 days to get there, but if you get an early start (around 6am) you can make it in one day. The elevation change is only 1600m, and the first 14km or so is pretty flat. Anyway, your first landmark will be Myoujinkan (明神館), a famous hotel about an hour from the bus terminal. After that, you’ll come to Tokuzawa lodge and campground (徳沢ロッヂ). Continue following the river until you reach Yokoo-sansou (横尾山荘). This is the halfway point distance-wise to Mt. Yari. From here, the trail starts climbing a little, reaching Yarisawa lodge (槍沢ロッヂ) in about an hour. This would be a good place to stay if you’ve gotten a late start, but if you’ve brought a tent then continue for another half hour or so to the campsite. This site is behind a lodge that was destroyed by an avalanche, and there are plenty of places to pitch your tent, lots of water, and toilets. Before deciding whether or not to camp here, consider that you’ve got about 4 more hours of hiking before reaching the hut just below the top of Mt. Yari. The path is easy to follow and will climb up the cirque toward the ridge line. If the weather is good then you should start seeing the spear-like peak of the summit. There are tons of switchbacks and paint marks on the rocks. The climb seems like it takes forever, but eventually you’ll end up on the saddle just below the summit. This is where you’ll find Yari-sanso (槍ヶ岳山荘). You can pay lots of money to stay in the hut, or pitch your tent a short distance away. Please note that the campground is completely exposed on the ridge and you may not be able to pitch a tent if the winds are strong. Drop your pack at the hut, and prepare for the final climb to the summit. There are lots of chains and ladders, but just follow the crowds and arrows and you’ll be on top in no time. The views are exhilarating, so bring your camera if the cloud isn’t in. Descend back to the hut. The next day, you have 4 options. You can either descend the way you came all the way back to Kamikochi, do the daikiretto (大キレット) ridge walk over to Kita-hotaka, continue on the trail next to the hut over to Sugoroku hut (双六小屋), or take the trail away from the campgound down to Yaridaira (槍平小屋) and Shin-hotaka hot spring.

When to go: This hike can be done from early May to early November. The earlier you go, the more snow there will be, so bring crampons if climbing before the rainy season or anytime in late fall.

Access: From either Takayama (高山) or Matusmoto (松本) stations, take a bus bound for Kamikochi (上高地). There are also direct night buses from Tokyo and Osaka, depending on the season. Click here for the bus from Matsumoto to Kamikochi. From Takayama you’ll have to change buses at Hirayu Hot Spring.

Live web cam: Click here

Level of difficulty: 5 out of 5 (elevation change 1675m)

Explore posts in the same categories: Nagano hikes (長野県)

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51 Comments on “Mt. Yari (槍ヶ岳)”

  1. Pete Says:

    First, can I say, this is a great site you’ve put together. It is easily the most comprehensive site on hiking in Japan on the internet (in English at least).

    Second, my girlfriend and I are going to Kamikochi for two days in the first half of June, and we’re wondering whether we’ll have time to get to the top of Yarigatake and back. Also, we’re not sure if we’ll have the right equipment for the hike.

    We do a lot of hiking in Australia and have experience with steeper mountain climbs (eg Glasshouse mountains in SE Queensland) but virtually no experience in snow hiking/climbing (we don’t own crampons).

    If we’re unlikely to be able to do Yarigatake, can you recommend any other decent (but relatively challenging) walks from Kamikochi? I did the walk up to Dakesawa last year, which was great but we wouldn’t mind something a bit more challenging.

  2. wesu Says:


    Thanks for the kind words about the site. It’s taken a lot of work, but I do something useful with all the research I’ve gathered over the years.

    As far as climbing Yari in early June, there will still be a lot of snow on the approach, so crampons are a necessity. The final climb to the summit of Yari (via all the chains and ladders) will be free of snow.

    Click here to see pictures in early June.

    Another option instead of Yari would be to do Yake-dake, an active volcano easily accessible from Kamikochi. It’s a challenging hike through rocky terrain, which will be free of snow.

    Or, you could consider the trek over the Karasawa, at the base of Oku-hotaka. The campsite there is spectacular, and you wouldn’t need any crampons to get there (you’d still have to trek through the snow, but it’s not too steep)

    • Pete Says:


      Thanks for that info. Yake-dake looks like a good alternative, but we’d still like to try Yari if we can get our hands on some crampons. Do you know of anywhere (preferably in Tokyo) where we could hire some? I know my way around Tokyo well so no need for in-depth directions.

      Also, if we decide to do Yake-dake instead, will we need any additional equipment such as ropes?


      • wesu Says:


        I’m not sure about crampon rental in Tokyo, since I’m based in Osaka. I’ll ask a few of my friends who do live in Tokyo and get back to you.

        Yake-dake does not require any ropes. There are a few places with built-in chains and ladders on the approach from Kamikochi, but if you take the back route from Naka-no-yu hot spring (outside of kamikochi) then you can bypass them. Yake is an active volcano, so be careful of poisonous gases and stay clear of the steam vents. Other than that it’s a pretty straightforward (and exciting) hike.


    • Paolo Says:

      Hello Wes –

      I have to agree with Pete – your site is extremely helpful for English-speakers trying to plan treks in Japan. I’ve been warned that I will experience a language barrier in Japan and if my research on trekking in Japan is any gauge, this certainly appears to be true (your site being the exception to the rule of course!)

      A friend and I are planning to hike the kamikochi-yari-hotaka circuit in late July (3 days). We’re both in decent shape and have undertaken a couple of serious hikes in the past, most notably two summers ago in Peru (reaching 6,000m on one occasion). Having said that, the k-y-h circuit appears to be very challenging – some sites describe it as hike for professionals only. A few questions:

      1) How difficult is the hike for recreational hikers? How many hours of daily hiking is required to complete the circuit in 3 days?

      2) I’ve also read that the trek is not for the faint hearted (many steep ridgelines, most notably the daikretto, and lots of ladders and chains). Is it doable for someone who has mild vertigo?

      3) Do accomodations in mountain huts need to be reserved in advance or can one just show up and find space (keeping in mind we’re hiking in high season)?

      4) How far is Kamikochi from Tokyo taking public transit (i.e. train / bus)?

      Thanks in advance for your responses – they will be invaluable in helping us determine whether we should move ahead as planned with the hike.



      • wesu Says:


        Sorry for the late reply.

        1) the k-y-h circuit is pretty tough, but not impossible. To do it in 3 days you’ll be averaging about 8 hours a day.

        2) Every year people fall to their deaths in the Daikiretto. I’m not sure of the extent of your vertigo, but it’s not a place where you’d want to get dizzy. Nor is it a place to be in a rain storm.

        3) Even in the high season, the huts will make space for anyone who shows up. They’re trying to make as much money as possible and never turn away guests. It’s best to show up and check in by around 3pm or so if you’re eating meals there. Otherwise, you can get there anytime.

        4) I’m not sure how long it takes from Tokyo, because I’m based in Osaka. The night bus would probably be the best option. Otherwise, the train from Shinjuku to Matsumoto takes about 3 hours.

  3. Paolo Says:

    Wes – Thanks for the helpful reply.

    From the sounds of it, we may want to avoid returning via the Daikiretto.

    If we returned via the arrival route outlined in your description above, would it feasible to complete the hike in 2 days instead of 3? Also, when you describe there being lots of chains and ladders, are these doable without a harness or are we talking about ladders sticking out of cliff faces (again, want to get a sense for whether the vertigo will be an issue)?

    • wesu Says:

      You could feasibly do the hike in 2 days. I did it in two, climbing from Kamikochi on day 1 and descending to Shin-hotaka hot spring on day 2, but the days are really long. If you break it up into 3 days then you can enjoy the scenery more. As far as climbing up to the hut just below Mt. Yari, there are no chains or ladders to speak of – it’s quite an enjoyable hike. The final push to the summit, however, is short but very steep. No harnesses are necessary – just confidence on climbing steep stuff. The chains and ladders make things much easier. I don’t think you’ll have any problem climbing, but may have problems on the descent. You could always just climb up to the hut and make your decision once you get there. Even if you don’t climb to the true summit you can ejoy spectacular views from the hut.

      Here is the blog for the Yari hut. Even though it’s written in Japanese only, you can get an idea of the area by looking at the photos.

  4. Paolo Says:

    Wes –

    Thanks for pointing me to the blog. The chains and ladders seen in the pictures are similar to those I encountered in the Italian Dolomites and thus should be doable!

    Alright, if we went with your suggestion of a three day journey can you layout where we should aim to get to by the end of each day (i.e. location of hut) and roughly how much hiking is required each day? Also, if the end point is not Kamikochi can you provide some guidance on how to get back to Kamikochi in order to catch a bus back to Tokyo?

    Thanks for your continued help – I promise this is the last of my questions!

    • wesu Says:


      Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. You have lots of options as far as huts go. If you don’t fancy hiking 22km the first day, you can break it up and stay at Yokoo-sanso, which marks the halfway point. Another option would be to stay at the Yarisawa lodge.

      As far as huts near Mt. Yari, there are 2, but Yari-sanso is much closer to the peak.

      If you drop down to Shin-hotaka, then there are also two huts. The first one is called Yari-daira and it’s about a 3-hour descent from the summit of Yari. Another hour later and you’ll find an emergency hut which doesn’t have any bedding or food. Another 2-1/2 hours beyond that you’ll reach your final hut before arriving at Shin-hotaka hot spring.

      If you traverse through the dai-kiretto, then you can either stay at the Kita-hotaka hut, descend into Karasawa (the safer route), or stay on the rocky ridgeline and stay at Hotaka-dake hut. The route between the 2 huts is just as trecherous as the dai-kiretto, so take care. If you descend down to Karasawa, then you’ve got an easier time on the 3rd day getting back to Kamikochi.

      My advice would be to make decisions based on the weather and your physical ability. You can always ask other guests at the hut or the hut staff themselves. The hut staff are all experienced hikers who know the routes very well.

  5. James Thompson Says:

    Please let me also congratulate you on a very useful site. My wife and I are planning to head to Kamikochi and based on the information here intend to hike to yarasawa hut on day one, then to yari hut and summit on day 2 then descend to shin hodaka on day 3.

    will we then be able to get back to kamikochi or do we need to overnight in Shin hodaka? (we are planning on leaving some stuff in kamikotchi so need to get back there before heading on to Mount Fuji)

    Do you know if the huts provide any bedding or will we need to hire sleeping bags in kamikochi?

    Sorry for the questions.. your time and effort responding is much appreciated.


  6. wesu Says:

    If you’re a fast hiker then you can make the last bus back from Shin-hotaka to Kamikochi (you’ll have to change buses at Shirahone hot spring). The hut staff should have bus schedules. When I hiked down to Shin-hotaka my wife and I ended up staying in a really nice (but expensive hotel) but I’ve heard there are cheaper accomodations around.

    All of the huts do provide bedding. If you want to save a little money then you can bring a stove and food. Huts usually run about 8000 yen per person for 2 meals, but if you don’t order meals the price drops to 5000 yen.

    Kamikochi is a really expensive place to stay, but up in the mountains all of the huts generally charge the same prices. Everything is brought in by helicopter, so it doesn’t really feel like you’re on the mountains until you look outside.

    Let me know if you have any other questions and I’ll try to answer them

  7. pammi Says:

    What a great informative site you have created. Very useful. My friends and i are planning to hike from Mudoro to Yari ga Take then Kamikochi on September 26.
    Could you tell me what the weather would be like on the mountain during that time. What kind of cloth/jacket we should bring? The bedding in the mountain hut is warm enough or we have to bring our sleeping bag?
    The plan is to do this hike in 6 days, is it Ok.
    Do you have any recommended hut we should stay.

  8. wesu Says:

    Thanks for your recent comment. Sorry it took me a while to respond. I’ve been in the mountains.

    Late September is a great time to be in the Japan Alps, barring any typhoons. The weather will be cold at night, with temperatures hovering around freezing. In the daytime it’ll be cool but nice if the sun is shining. Each year is different, but the high peaks usually get their first snowfall around that time of year, so you need to be wary and watch the weather forecasts carefully just before you set off.

    All of the huts are open until the end of September and will have sufficiently warm bedding, so a sleeping bag is not necessary. If you plan on eating your meals at the hut as well, then you can get away with carrying a relatively light backpack. You’ll still need warm weather clothing (think winter), as well as a flashlight/headlamp, map, compass, first-aid kit, etc.

    As far as which huts you will stay at, it really depends on your speed, fitness, and the weather. You should be able to do the traverse in 6 days, but it might take longer. It took me 10 days to do it, but I was carrying all of my gear and had 5 days of terrible weather, so I took it slow. The great thing about the traverse is that there are several escape points should the weather turn foul or your physical condition deterioriate. The first one is just after coming down Yakushi-dake. There’s a trail leading from Tarobei hut to Oritate, which has bus connections to civilization. Additionally, just after Sugoroku-dake, there’s a trail leading from Sugoroku hut to Shin-hotaka hot spring if you want to cut the traverse short and bypass Kamikochi. You can also bypass the daikiretto if you descend to Kamikochi from Yari-sawa. It’s a 22km hike but very easy and relatively flat once you get down into the valley.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

  9. Felix Says:

    Dear Wes,

    My girlfriend and I are intending to climb Yari-gatake on 30 October 2009 to 1 November 2009. We intend to stay the night of 31 October 2009 at Yari-gatake sanso and hike back to Kamikochi on 1 November 2009. Would you know what time the last bus leaves Kamikochi on 1 November 2009, as we would like to try to make it to Matsumoto by the end of the day (also please let me know if you think that making it from Yarigatake-sanso to Kamikochi in time for the last bus is wishful thinking)?

    Alternatively, would you recommend ending day 1 at Yarisawa, then spending day 2 summiting Yarigatake and descending back to Yarisawa by the end of day 2 (might also solve any altitude sickness issues)?

    Also, is it a tough climb? I’m a little unfit at the moment after sitting on my butt for the last couple of months (last hike was the Milford Track in April, which is not exactly alpine conditions).

    Also as we are carrying quite a bit of luggage, is there a place we can leave some luggage in Kamikochi, while we are climbing Yari-gatake?

    Thank you for your help!

    • wesu Says:

      Thanks for the comment. The last bus from Kamikochi to Matsumoto leaves at 6:05pm (according to the bus schedule on the web site). You should reconfirm that time when you arrive at the Kamikochi bus terminal (and perhaps buy a reserved ticket)

      It’s 22km one way from Kamikochi to Yarigatake-sanso, which will probably take you about 10 hours or so with the current climbing conditions. I’m not exactly sure the snow line is, but I wouldn’t be surprised if 3/4 of Yarisawa is covered, which will make climbing through the boulder fields a bit tricky (unless the snow is compacted enough, that is). The best thing to do is to call the hut directly (in Japanese) at 090-2641-1911. They’ll be able to tell you the most current conditions.

      If you haven’t got the equipment or are scared off by the snow, then don’t worry because the hike through Kamikochi valley is wonderful this time of year.

      Are you planning to camp or stay in the huts?

      The hike is quite tough to do in one day, so most people break it up into 2 days (especially during this time of year when the daylight hours are so short)

      You should be able to leave some luggage at the bus terminal in Kamikochi, but I’m not 100% sure since I’ve never been in that predicament. Another alternative might be to stash your luggage in some coin lockers in Matsumoto (if they fit). Also, most hotels will allow you to leave luggage after you have checked-out.

      Good luck with the planning and let me know if you have any other questions.

      • Felix Says:


        Thanks so much for your help.

        Seeing as it’s such a long hike down, I think we might think about staying at Kamikochi the third night and not try to rush for Matsumoto that night (we’re quite slow walkers).

        When you mention to not worry about snow or lack of equipment because the hike through the valley is wonderful this time of year, could I check if you mean not to worry about the walk all the way up to Yarigatake? We are a bit concerned about this as we haven’t trekked in the snow before.

        In terms of equipment, we have gore-tex boots, gaiters and hiking poles but don’t have crampons. Do you think it would be okay for us to attempt the climb without crampons?

        Thanks again for your help, it is really very kind of you. A lot of the guidebooks provide very general descriptions of the walk, but talking to someone who has actual experience on the ground is a hundred times better.

  10. wesu Says:


    Sorry to confuse you about the lack of equipment. If you climb Yari you will definitely need crampons and an ice-axe (the axe will help you to stop in case you fall – there’s no ice climbing involved except for the last 50 meters to the true summit if the chains are frozen)

    However, you can make it up to the snow line without any special equipment. Mt. Yari is not a mountain to be taken lightly – people lose their lives every year, especially when the weather turns bad. If you’ve never done any winter mountaineering then I don’t suggest Yari as a place to learn.

    This is what Yari looks like in May, after a long, hard winter

    If you think Yari is going to be too tough, then I’d suggest trying to climb Mt. Yake. It’s easily accessible from Kamikochi and shouldn’t have any snow on it now (but that may all change with the low pressure system moving through this weekend)

    This is what Mt. Yake looks like this time of year

    Or you can trek over to Yarisawa lodge and stay there. That route is currently free of snow and is relatively flat.

    If you want to get a taste of the Alps but don’t have crampons, then you can consider climbing up to Karasawa Lodge (涸沢) which is base camp for climbing Mt. Oku-hotaka, Japan’s 3rd highest peak. You won’t be able to climb to the summit, but you’ll be able to stare straight up at the towering peaks.

    Let me know what you’re thinking. A lot of your choices may depend on the weather of course.

  11. Felix Says:


    We’re from Singapore which is 30 degrees C all year round so trying to find crampons here is like shopping for a bikini in an eskimo village.

    I reckon we’ll walk towards yarisawa, and see where the snowline is.

    Maybe I will ask my cousin from Osaka to give the mountain hut a call to see how conditions are (we would really like to make yarigatake sanso at least).

    This is starting to sound downright depressing. We initially intended to cross the Daikiretto, spurred on by Lonely Planet’s Hiking in Japan’s “doesn’t require specialist skills” until we read half a dozen blogs full of people saying that they nearly died, so we decided to head up to Yarigatake and back down instead without doing the Daikiretto. Now we’ll have to see if we can even do that.

    • wesu Says:


      I understand your situation about getting proper equipment. I went to Singapore in December and couldn’t believe the humidity (and the mosquitos!)

      Don’t get too depressed – it’s just the timing, that’s all. You’re visiting at the very end of the climbing season. Kamikochi is usually an extremely popular place for tourists, but you might be rewarded with far less crowds. I hope you have some warm clothing for the frigid nights. Expect temperatures to be below zero even during the day in the higher elevations.

      Even if you don’t make it to the top of Mt. Yari, I think you can still have a wonderful time. Clean air, a beautiful river, pristine scenery, and maybe even a bear or two. Plus, if the weather is good then you’ll be staring up at massive snow-capped peaks.

      My advice would be to hike up as far as you feel comfortable with. Always have a back-up plan and set a turnaround time if you don’t think you can make it up before dark (it gets dark around 5:30pm nowadays)
      Try to pack some emergency supplies in case you get caught in bad weather. (extra clothing, an emergency survival blanket, and a flashlight are essential)

      • Felix Says:


        Thanks for the very sensible tips. We’re flying off tomorrow night, and should be in Kamikochi by the day after. We’re very grateful for your advice (we’re now more wary and careful than we would otherwise have been).

    • Sam Says:

      Hi Felix, how was your hike to the Kita Alps? I’m from Singapore too and climbed Yarigatake in Sep 2005. Since then I haven’t come across anyone here who has done the climb, so it would be great to get to know a fellow hiker and swap travel stories!

      • Felix Says:

        Hi Sam, the hike was awesome and the alps were beautiful. Sad thing is that we didn’t make it to the top. When we got to Kamikochi, we were told that the that the peak of Yari-gatake were covered in deep snow. So we decided to hike through the valley and part way up Oku-hotaka-dake instead. The autumn colours were striking, and the flanking mountains were a majestic presence as we hiked in the valley between them. I was really slow so I was still hiking after the sun had set on a particular day, and there was an instant when I sat down for a breather where I experienced utter silence under a totally clear moonlit sky (the kind of quiet where there is no sound at all, not even the wind or insects) which is one of the best experiences I have ever had. This trip, aside from Kamikochi, we also hiked up to the Jomon Sugi in Yakushima. I can’t recommend either enough.

  12. Hui xin Says:

    Hi there!! Thanks for all the useful information above:)
    Here are 2 more questions:
    1. How is the weather and conditions on the mountain now (from 10th June till end of June)?
    2. For transport to and out of the mountain, is there a direct bus from Osaka city to kamichochi? And from kamichochi to tokyo directly? We would like skip Matsumoto train station:)

    We want to prepare the clothings and equipment needed:) thanks for ur help in advance:)

    • wes Says:

      Hui xin,

      Right now in Japan it’s the rainy season. It’s not the best time to hike, but there might be a few days of good weather if you’re lucky.

      There’s no direct bus from Osaka to Kamikochi. There used to be one, but it’s been discontinued. You could take a train from Osaka to Takayama, and then a bus from there. Takayama is a wonderful town with lots of old buildings. There are plenty of buses from Kamikochi to Tokyo however. Ask the tourist information center about them when you get here. They should be able to help you out.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.


    • Sam Says:

      Hi Huixin,

      Weather is hard to predict in June, best to constantly check forecasts and plan your trip in a flexible manner such that you can take advantage of any windows of good weather. I learnt this the hard way – had to spend one and a half days cold and miserable in a hut near Yari while waiting out a typhoon in Sep 2005. Jul & Aug are the months with the most settled weather.

      This website ( provides some details of the bus schedule from Osaka to Takayama.

      Happy travelling! Oh and where are you guys from? I’m looking around for a group to join as I really miss those hiking days in the Kita Alps… can reach me at

  13. Mark Says:

    Hi there, this is by far the best site Ive come across for hiking in Japan! Thankyou for all your hard work.

    Just a quick question, After finding out the hard way that hiking on snow in the middle of summer can be quite difficult I was wondering if this will still be the case now (mid july) on the hike up to Yari. The photos on the site show alot of patches still remaining.

    Would you recommend getting some crampons just in case?

    • wes Says:


      A light pair of crampons might be good to bring. Get the 4-point crampons. I have a pair made by snow peak. Only costs about 2000 yen. Most of the snow should have melted by now, but you might find some patches in Yari sawa. The summit is definitely free of snow.


      • Mark Says:

        Hi Wes, thanks for getting back to me.

        I actually did the hike before I read your reply so went without crampons. I was surprised by the amount of snow still in Yarisawa but it was only patches and not too steep. I think I’ll take some 4point crampons next time just to avoid all the time consuming slipping about, especially on the way back down.

        Thanks for your advice and keep up the good work.


  14. Nadine Says:

    Hi Wes,

    Thanks for The wealth of info on this site. Originally we were planning to do the 3 day kamikochi-yari-hotaka circuit but the daikiretto sounds pretty hair raising. My husband though extremely fit has blind spots in his vision and this may prove fatal it seems.

    I thought another option was to climb yari-dame and on the second day head to an onsen – where can I find info on this? The hiking in Japan book suggested nakabusa onsen but although I can’t find any guided info I hear u can finish at shirahone or shinhotaka onsen. Which one is best to end at and where can I get more info on the trail from yari-dake?

    Thanks very much! Nadine

    • wes Says:


      I’ve done a 2-day traverse starting at Kamikochi and ending at Shin-hotaka hot spring (going up and over Mt. Yari). This can easily be broken up into 3 or 4 days, since the distance from Kamikochi to Yari is 22km (it’ll take about 9 to 10 hour). There’s a hut and campsite before you enter Yari-sawa if you wish to break up the really long day.

      The route is clearly marked and not too difficult, I don’t recommend camping at the campsite near Yari hut. It’s exposed and really windy.

      Let me know if you have any other questions


  15. owen maskiell Says:

    Is it possible to attempt the Yari-Hotaka circuit trek in mid june? And if so do I need crampons and an Ice Axe, or are crampons alone enough? Also, could I expect many people to be attempting that track or others this time of the year.. As I was going alone and hoping just to bump into people along the way… Any advice would be great.. Owen

    • wes Says:


      I’d definitely bring both. This year has been a really heavy year for snowfall. Mt. Yari just got two fresh snowstorms in the past 2 days, and now has 30cm of fresh snowcover in late May!

      The ridge between Yari and Hotaka is rugged and dangerous even without snow. You’re better off bring rope and a harness just in case. A lot can happen between now and mid-June temperature-wise, which should melt most of the snow off the ridge lines, but you can never be too sure.

      My advice would be to start by climbing Mt. Yari. The hut is now open and you can ask the staff about current conditions in the Daikiretto. They really know their stuff and will be able to tell you what kind of equipment you will need.

      Also, mid-June is traditionally the start of the rainy season, so keep an eye on the weather. My guess is that you won’t run into very many people doing that circuit this time of year, especially if you’re hiking during the week. I did a hike in the Kita Alps in mid-June about 5 years ago and didn’t run into a single other hiker the entire time.

      I hope that answers your questions. Keep an eye on the weather and hope for the best.

      Let me know if you have additional questions.


      • owen maskiell Says:

        Thanks Wes, So it sounds like it will be quite challenging. The Daikiretto would probably be beyond my skill level and not worth attempting unless I had a guide and the said equipment. I’ll try and get my hands on some crampons and and Ice axe though… I’m gathering they will be necessary even to get to the top of mt. Yari. Is there anywhere good to pick up equipment in Osaka? Otherwise I’ll keep looking here in sydney, it’s just surprisingly sparse and a little expensive. I have trekked in snow before but you make it sound like it’s pretty fresh up there!

        let me know if you have any more advice, At least there are other options if it all sounds a bit risky!

        Also, I’m gathering the huts will supply some food and I can just pack for snacks/light meals throughout the day…
        If I camp (and I probably won’t) are you still able to eat at the huts?

        Thanks Again

        I’ll be in and out of Osaka on this trip and probably in the future, so perhaps you could give me advice in person one day, great site anyway.


  16. wes Says:


    I’m not sure about being able to eat meals in the huts if you camp. I’m sure you probably can, but they’ll probably cost over 2000 yen I would guess.

    The campsite at Yari sits directly on the ridge and it quite exposed. If you decide to camp make sure you bring a tent that can withstand strong winds!

    Osaka has a few good outdoor shops in Umeda. They’re probably on par with what you would pay in Australia, but I usually order gear from the US when I need to buy because it’s so much cheaper.

    The blog at Yari hut has just updated the recent climbing conditions to Mt. Yari. Check this link. Even though the information is in Japanese, you can get a good idea of what you’ll need to climb through just by looking at the pictures


  17. Jose Says:

    Hello Wes,
    Thanks for your advise on Zao, walking around Okama is amazing, I had great time there last autumn!
    I need once more your advise please. I want to climb Yari san next august. The website gives 4 or 5 routes but translation is hard for me. Which is the best route to hike 3 in days? I want to avoid Dai kiretto. I am planning to stay in huts. I hike slow but hard.

    Thanks in advance!


    • wes Says:


      I’m glad you had a great time at Zao. It’s a great place to visit.

      Mt. Yari is also wonderful. I recommend climbing via the Yari-sawa route. It starts at Kamikochi and winds through a long valley before the steep climb to the ridge line. Since it is 22km from Kamikochi to Mt. Yari, it’s better to break up the trip into two days (you can do it in one but it’ll take about 12 hours). On day 1 get yourself to Kamikochi and hike as far up the valley as you can. Depending on where you start, you can stay at either Tokusawa (7km from Kamikochi), Yokoo (11km from Kamikochi) or Yarisawa lodge (16km from Kamikochi). I assume that you want to stay at the huts? If not, then there are only 2 options to camp (Tokusawa or Yarisawa campsite, another kilometer past Yarisawa lodge).

      Day 2 you can climb to Mt. Yari and either stay in the hut or camp near the top. The campsite is terrible – there’s no cover from the wind, rain or lightning.

      Day 3 I recommend heading down the other side of the ridge down to Yari-daira and out to Shinhotaka hot spring. It’s a little shorter than heading all the way back to Kamikochi, and you’ll be able to catch a bus from there to Takayama or to Hirayu, where you can change for a bus to Matsumoto.

      You could also do this in reverse, starting at Shin-hotaka and ending at Kamikochi.

      Try NOT to go during the Obon holiday if you can. The trails will be really crowded and so will the huts. Try to go at either the first week of August or the last week, as there will be less people.

      I hope this helps. Good luck with the planning and let me know what other questions you might have.

      All the best,


      • Jose Says:

        Hi Wes,
        It helps a lot, thanks. It is more or less like my original plan, just two more things. My partner cancelled so I’m going solo, then I want to avoid Daikiretto, which of this routes is out Daikiretto?
        And the other, I went to Montbell and some other libraries to get a map but it’s becoming hard to get the right one (I can’t read Kanji, only hiragana & katakana) any advise?

        Man, thanks again, I can’t belive you do this just from your heart and not for money!
        By the way I’ll order a t shirt!

        May I contact you in a personal e mail? I have a few picturesI’d like to share with you that I guess you’ll enjoy.

        Take care


  18. wes Says:


    Both routes are out of the Daikiretto. The Daikiretto runs from Yari to Kita-hotaka, which is a different direction from these routes.

    Sure, you can send me a personal message. I’d love to see some of your photos. We can talk about which shirt you would like!

    All the best,


    • Jose Says:

      Hi again Wes,
      I understand about Daikiretto, actually I just bought the Hiking in Japan LP guide. Thanks a lot.
      My everyday job is to fly airplanes, and sometimes my eyes can see amzing stuff that I want to share. My images are not as amazing as the real view but I want to share them with you, and if you like them and if you want to use them feel free to do it. Your website has inspired me more than you can imagine.
      I have a trip to Osaka at end of this month, I’ll contact you to buy the Tshirts then.
      Here’s a link to some of my pictures.

      Minami Alps & Fuji san

      Thanks again and take care.


  19. Brandon Says:

    So how much snow should I expect to see during golden week on here and the daikiretto? Should I bring an Ice axe with me or is a pair of 10 point crampons enough? This will be my first timer climbing in snow.

  20. Brandon Says:

    I just have one quick question. I would like to climb Yari This weekend but as of now it is supposed to rain all weekend. Is it okay to limb Yari in the rain or would it be too dangerous.

    • wes Says:


      While there are chains and ladders on the route, plenty of people do climb it in the rain. It’s not the most exciting of hikes in bad weather but it is doable. Are you camping or staying in the hut? The campground is exposed to the wind and elements. Make sure you bring proper anchors unless you want your tent to blow away.


  21. Pavel Says:

    Did this hike on August 27th-29th. Since there was no 4:30 bus option from Shinshimashima we got a late start. Stayed at the Yarisaw lodge for the night and finished off the hike to Yari-sanso in the early afternoon of the second day. We were lucky to have good weather after the terrible weather of 2014 =(. The climb to Yari’s summit was very fun, and not as scary as I imagined it would be. The room at the summit is pretty limited, only enough for about 20 people. We weren’t going to make it in time for the bus from Kamikochi so we stayed the night at Yari-sanso (which sadly doesnt have an onsen like Yarisaw did). All in all a great hike! Thank you very much for the information you’ve gathered here.

  22. Will Says:

    Hi All,

    Not sure if the forum is still active. Hope to get hear back.
    Looking to hiking the north Alps sometime in late month of May.
    1. How cold does it get up in the ridges? planning to tent camp instead of staying in the huts
    2. Do Huts sell meal/food to hikers who are not staying overnight?
    3. Do I need to bring crampons? and/or ice axe? If so, will these items be sufficient for the hike? I don’t any ice climbing technical skill. Have only watched Youtube on backpacking using crampons and axe.
    4. Last anybody planning and interested in hiking together? My wife and her Japanese family will likely not join me.. we are visiting from USA

    Thank you all for the information given so far in this forum.


  23. Travis Says:

    Hi Wes,

    Thanks for all the resources for hiking in Japan, it’s very helpful. My wife and I are planning to do a 3-day hike to Mt. Yari starting at Kamikochi, ending at Shin-Hotaka Onsen in early July. Overnights at Yokoo-sanso/Yarisawa and Yari-sanso. Had a couple questions about Mt. Yari that I was hoping that you could help us with.

    1. Are huts gender-separated? Basically, can I sleep next to my wife or do huts have small private rooms?
    2. Do we need crampons for early July?
    3. We’re going to stay at Kamikochi for a day before starting the hike. Any idea if we can send luggage from Kamikochi to an onsen in Shin-Hotaka?
    4. Do we have to reserve the huts (Yokoo-sanso/Yarisawa/Yari-sanso)? I saw something on the Yokoo-sanso’s website that said a reservation is required (

    We decided to avoid the Dai-kiretto, based on safety, though we are experienced hikers. Thanks!

    • wes Says:


      Thanks for checking out my website.

      To answer your questions:
      1) Huts are not gender separated and usually involve everyone sleeping in communal rooms. Some huts do have semi-private rooms at an additional cost, but most of them entail cramming as many hikers as they can a couple of big open rooms.

      2) Light crampons (4 or 6-point) are advisable for climbing through Yarisawa. The ridges should be completely free of snow, depending on the amount of rainfall.
      3) I’m not sure about luggage forwarding from Kamikochi. There are two main transport companies in Japan (Yamato and Sagawa). I haven’t be able to confirm whether either of these have offices or do pick-up in Kamikochi itself. Usually you can send you luggage from any convenience store in Japan. There is a post office in Kamikochi that allows you to send packages. Shipping suitcases from a post office is usually triple the price of what the private transport companies offer. Do you need your suitcase in Kamikochi? If not, then you could forward it directly from the place you stay before arriving at Kamikochi (say Matsumoto) directly to the hotel at Shin-hotaka. They will hold it for you if you have an advanced booking. Sorry I can’t be more helpful. To be honest I’ve never done any luggage forwarding in Japan except to send a snowboard from a ski resort to my home. Usually when I go hiking I bring everything on my pack and don’t need to forward any luggage.
      4) Yes, bookings are required at the huts around Kamikochi if you are planning on having meals. Huts will generally not turn anyone away but may not have enough food prepared for you if they don’t know you are coming. This is especially true from early July since it is not the peak hiking season.

      Another issue to consider in early July is that it is still the rainy season in Japan. The rainy season usually lasts from early June to mid-July. While it does not rain every day, it is usually very wet in the Japan Alps and you can have several days of heavy rain depending on the conditions. It can be a very rewarding time to visit the mountains as they will be less crowded and if you happen to time your trip during a period of clear weather between rain storms. The weather is notoriously difficult to predict however, so it’s good to have a back-up plan if possible.

      I hope that helps. Good luck with the planning.



      • Travis Says:

        Great, thanks for the info Wes! Much appreciated. Have some more questions, hope you don’t mind.

        We’ll make sure to bring some crampons with us, just in case. I think we’ve figured out the luggage forwarding. We’re staying in Kamikochi at Nishi Itoya Mountain Lodge before the Yari hike, and it looks like they can forward our luggage via Yamato.

        For the hut bookings, we were planning on staying at Yarisawa the first night, and Yari-Sanso the second. I’m assuming we can get the Kamikochi Information Center to call the huts for us a day prior to doing the hike?

        Yes, the rain is a bit of a concern. We’ll have rain gear, just in case, but we’re crossing our fingers here. Our inclination is to do the hike no matter the weather, but we’ll see how we feel if it does end up raining when we’re there.

        Once we get to Shinhotaka Onsen, we’ll stay at a ryokan for a night. The next day we plan to take a bus from Shinhotaka Ropeway to Toyama via Nohi ( Do you know how do these buses typically work? Do we need a reservation, or can we just hop on? If we need a reservation, what’s the best way for a non-Japanese speaker to get one?

  24. Melody Says:

    dear Wes:
    I’m planning a 2 or 3 days hiking from Kamikochi to shinhotaka Onsen by the end of April. First day, i’ll try to get to Yokoo Tent site and camp there. Do I really need to stay in the Yari summit (tent or hut) at the second night? And then go down to Shinhotaka. Is it possible to clime up to the summit and then go down to Shinhotaka in a day?

    • wes Says:


      Late April is pretty early to be climbing Mt. Yari, as there will still be a lot of remaining snow. You would need an ice axe and crampons for sure. Yes, the huts will be open from late April but it’s the very beginning of the season.
      Here’s a blog post detailing the conditions you can expect. (Scroll down to the bottom to see photos).

      I hope that helps.

  25. Matt Morley Says:

    Hi Wes,

    Thanks so much for your really useful site. I’m coming to Kamikochi with a couple of friends on 1st June. We would absolutely love to climb Mt Yari but we won’t have any crampons with us – do you think this will be possible, weather-dependent? We are all in good shape.



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