Kita-dake (北岳)

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. 

Kita-dake is the 2nd highest peak in Japan and has one of the best vantage points for viewing Mt. Fuji anywhere around.

The hike: From the huge parking lot at Hirogawara, walk a little back towards the main road and then turn left. You’ll see a pedestrian suspension bridge crossing the river, and this is where the trail starts. Cross the bridge and follow the path for about 20 minutes. You’ll come to a junction and you have 2 choices. Both trails lead to Kita-dake, but I recommend taking the one on the right towards Shiraneoike hut (白根御池小屋). It’ll take about 2-1/2 hours or moderate climbing to reach this hut. There’s a campground here, as well as a water source. Take a break here, because the real climb is about to start. Take the trail that goes past the campground, and begin your steep climb up to the ridge line. Most maps allocate 3 hours for reaching the ridge, but if you’re traveling light or in good shape then you can do it in half the time. Once you hit the ridge, turn left and hike for another half hour until reaching Kita-dake kata-no-koya (北岳肩ノ小屋). This hut is perched on a saddle just below the summit, and there’s a campground and water source here. You’re over 3000m now, so make sure you bring plenty of warm clothing even in the summer. I camped here in August and it definitely hovered around the freezing mark at night. The next day, rise early to watch the sunrise from the second highest peak in Japan. It should take about 45 minutes or so to reach the top. The views pretty much speak for themselves, and you can easily see why this mountain has become so popular for Japanese hikers. Continue down the other side of the rocky peak until reaching a junction. You can continue on to Ai-no-dake if you’d like, or you can take a left at the junction for an alternative route back to Hirogawara. Hike about 45 minutes and then take another left at the next junction. It should take about 2-1/2 hours to descend back to Hirogawara. I must admit that I’ve never done this trail, so I can’t attest to the condition/difficulty, but the maps say that snow remains until early August and that it’s quite rocky.

When to go: This hike can be done from around Golden Week to early November. The road to Hirogawara is closed in the winter, so it’ll be pretty difficult to get here unless you hike a long way to the trailhead. That being said, there are exceptions!

Access: From Kofu station (甲府駅), take a bus bound for Hirogawara (広河原). Click here for the bus schedule in Japanese.

Level of difficulty: 5 out of 5 (elevation change 1673m)

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67 Comments on “Kita-dake (北岳)”

  1. Dan Says:

    Thanks for the great wealth of information here. One question, though. To stay in the huts, do you need to make a reservation of a sort? I’m considering leaving for kofu station from shikoku on sunday evening. Any suggestions?

    Thanks in advance!

    • wesu Says:


      You don’t need to make a reservation at any of the huts unless you’re planning on having meals there. Even so, you can rock up without a reservation and get a meal if you check-in early enough (around 3pm is fine). The huts want to make as much money as possible and will fill up every available space with futons. I’ve never been turned away from one.

      That being said, there might be a ton of people on Kita-dake this weekend, since it’s a national holiday. Try to hike quickly so you can check-in at a decent time.

      • Dan Says:

        Wes, thanks for the expedient reply. I’m trying to figure out of my plan is doable… Can you review this quickly? Im planning on leaving sunday night from my city in shikoku and arriving at 11 on monday morning, then catching the 12:00 bus to hirogawara, which gets in about 2:00. Will there be enough time to reach the hut just under the summit? (I’m considering bringing a tent instead of the hut to save some money…)So, If I stay at the hut on tuesday night, summit wednesday morning and descend wednesday afternoon back to hirogawara (on the alternate path back that you mentioned.) I know the amount of times things take depends on on the shape of the person; I’m in good shape, though I really haven’t done much climbing because I was born and grew up/went to uni. in Illinois. Is the path you mention very technical? What do you recommend I bring as far as equipment, etc.? Sorry for all the questions, and thanks in advance for any that you can answer.


      • wesu Says:


        I think your plan is doable. A 2pm start is kind of late, with the sun setting around 5:45pm nowadays. However, it should give you enough time to reach the 1st hut and campsite at Shirane oike. It might be a bit of a push to reach the campsite at Katagoya, but use your best judgment upon arriving at the 1st hut. If the weather is good you might be able to push it (make sure you bring a headlamp or other type of torch)

        The route itself isn’t very technical, though it is a bit steep down the other side of Kita-dake, but there are chains to help you in the descent. Enjoy your trip and let me know how it goes.

  2. Jean Says:

    Hi Wes,

    I’ve been in japan for a while and I’m really happy to have found your blog. This is really the kind of information I was looking for to do some good hikes, which up to now where quite difficult to organize for lack of good resources.
    I’m hesitating between kitadake and Mt Tanzawa for this weekend. I suppose from the post that Kitadake is more alpine style, but Tanzawa looks ok and is closer to tokyo.
    You mention maps in your description. Where can you actually find them?

    Thanks for all the good infos here!

    • wesu Says:


      Thanks for the comment. Both mountains are wonderful this time of year, and both of them offer outstanding views of Mt. Fuji. Tanzawa is a lot closer to Tokyo and isn’t as difficult as Kita-dake (at least you wouldn’t have to factor in the altitude)

      Maps are available at any major bookstore near the section on outdoor books/travel. There’s a good series called “Yama to Kogen” which has maps of all the major peaks in Japan. The maps are quite expensive (800 yen a piece) but are very durable and offer sufficient detail. I’ve also included a link in the description above (between ‘access’ and ‘level of difficulty’). This map is not as good because you can’t zoom in to get the level of detail you need.

      Eventually I’d like to make my own maps. If I could only find the time…

      • jean Says:

        thanks for reply Wes, too bad I forgot to tick the Notify Me box, I’m only seeing your post right now!
        I’m just back from Tanzawa. I’ve seen the map you mention, some people had it.
        Seems to be a good map serie, all the trail are indicated in red with timing. With that in hand, the’re many variations you can consider. It’s really best to get yourself one before preparing the trek I think.

        I’m going to had a comment on the Tanzawa post.

        It’s great to find this kind of map on mapple, but too bad you can’t zoom the are just unusable!

        Why would you make your own map when the Yama to Kogen are pretty ok?

  3. Dan Says:

    Hey Wes,
    Got back from the trip last night. The alps were simply magnificent. The strange varieties of flora were eerily beautiful. I arrived in hirogawara from kofu at 2, hiked for a couple hours and got to the first camp at about 4:15, and I stayed there for the night. I was quite surprised at how comfortable and accommodating that place was…It was more like a hotel than a hut (though perhaps they should consider moving the old japanese men who infinitely burp and fart in their sleep to a different room…) I met some english-speaking Japanese people who were in a group ( teachers from a climbing club at a school they taught at, actually), and so we ascended to the summit on tuesday morning. While it was clear on monday, tuesday had clouds move in as we got closer to the summit, and unfortunately had no visibility on the summit. We did see mount fuji from about 2700 m, though ( Despite the lack of visibility on the summit, the flora and gorgeous sights on the way up, plus the reward of simply getting to the top was more than worth it. I descended back down a little bit later to the first camp, stayed the night, and hiked down after breakfast to catch the 8:00 bus to hirogawara.

    Thanks for your help and advice in making my trip a success! If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me. I’m looking forward to more climbs in Japan (and hopefully elsewhere in the world, when time and money permits.)

  4. Wade Says:

    Hi I would like to hike both Kita-dake and Mt Fuji next week, I will be flying in on sat for the week, camping or stay in huts? Where in Tokyo is best to hire the tents ect? And is there any snow up there? Will we need crampons?



    • wesu Says:


      You will definitely need crampons if you climb Mt. Fuji. The snow level is down to about 2400m at the moment. There’s probably over a meter on the summit, and all of the huts will be closed. The buses have also stopped running, so you’ll need to find your own transport to the 5th station (or start much lower on the peak)

      Kita-dake is still accessible, and just got its first dusting of snow the day before yesterday. The ridge looks clear at the moment, but you’ll find pockets of snow in the shaded areas. Crampons are definitely recommended in case any more low pressure systems make their way through the area between now and when you visit. The good news about Kita-dake is that the huts are still open, so it might be better to pay the money to stay in the huts.

      Tent rental is difficult unless you’re a member of the OCJ ( It’s probably not worth your time to join just for one week, as the club is usually for people who live/work in Japan. You’re much better off bringing your own tent if you plan to camp.

      Expect mid-winter temperatures on either peak. Even in the summer the temps drop below zero, so you can expect daytime temps to be hovering around the freezing mark, and possibly minus 15 to 20 degrees Celsius at night.

      Don’t let that deter you from a journey into the mountains – it’s just helpful to know what you’re in for so you can properly prepare for it.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.


  5. Abhay Says:

    Hello Wes,

    First, thanks for the blog — it is truly a fine source of information about Japan’s mountain hikes.

    I’m visiting Japan from San Francisco for a few weeks and I’m planning to go up Kita-dake next week, Nov 2-3. I looked around but couldn’t find much information on the current conditions, such as what the weather is like right now, how much snow there is, and whether the huts are open. What about the buses? are they still running? Seems like there’s a bit more info available online about the northern alps regions.

    I sure hope this is still climbable. So far, I’m not planning on taking crampons – getting ahold of gear in japan is a bit tricky for me. any information you might have would be a great help, thanks.

    • wesu Says:


      Thanks for checking out the blog.

      The buses are running until November 9th, so you won’t have to worry about transport. November 3rd is a National Holiday in Japan, so you might run into some crowds around Hirogawara.

      The hut at Kata-no-goya is still open for business. I have no idea about current snow depth, but if you cal find a Japanese speaker, then you can call 055288-2421 or 090-4606-0068 to find out.

      The last time I checked there was only a trace of snow on the summit, BUT a low pressure system is moving through Japan tomorrow and could dump a ton of snow on the peak. The Kita Alps already have close to 2 feet of snow! If there is any snow then it’s nearly impossible to do without crampons.

      Make sure you bring warm clothes, because the temperatures will be below zero even in the daytime at the higher elevations.

      Good luck with the hike.


      • Abhay Says:

        Hey Wes, thanks for getting back to me. just got some information from the folks at the hut that might be useful for your readers as well –

        as of 10/29, there is 20cm of snow on the summit (the north face is snowed in). crampons are required.

        the hut has a website, with a weather report; it’s only in japanese though.

        I think I’ll go to mt. kumotori instead, unless I can do a last-minute crampon rental (should have brought my gear with me:)). any ideas on rentals?

  6. julian Says:

    I am very interested in doing this hike in late July. I was wondering if there is a bus from Tokyo to Hirogawara or an intermediate station East of Hirogawara where I can change and catch a bus to there. Kofu is west of Hirogawara, right?

    • wesu Says:


      Thanks for your comment and question. Kofu is actually northeast of Hirogawara. If you don’t fancy going through Kofu, there’s an alternative bus via Minobu station (身延) on the JR Minobu line. If coming from Tokyo, it makes more sense to catch the bus from Kofu, since Minobu station lies on a small train line with infrequent trains. There’s only 1 bus a day leaving from Minobu, arriving at Hirogawara at 8:50am. The bus costs 2300 yen and runs everyday between July 17th and August 22nd.

      Unfortunately, there are no direct overnight buses into Hirogawara. The area is off limits to regular sightseeing buses at the moment, but plans are in the making to turn Hirogawara into another “Kamikochi” type tourist trap, which is a real shame. Your best bet is probably to approach via Kofu. It’s only a 90-minute train ride from Shinjuku via Limited Express train.

  7. David Says:


    I’m planning of taking my hiking group to the top of Kitadake on September 11th/12th. Possibly camp at Kata-no-koya and watch the sunrise the following morning from the summit. Have you any idea of the nighttime temperatures at 3000 meters on Kitadake mid-September?


  8. steve meyers Says:

    Hi. I am planning on climbing Kitadake next week and am going by car. However, I have heard that the road is closed to personal cars at some point… any idea where that point might be?

    Cheers, Steve

    • wesu Says:


      The road from Yashahintouge to Hirogawara is permanently closed to private vehicles. Hell, you aren’t even allowed to ride a bicycle there! There was a time in the past when it was opened to cars, but those days are long gone.

      Unfortunately, you have no choice to get to the trailhead except for the bus. I know it sucks, but the road is owned by a private company, and they’ll do their best to fleece money out of you.

  9. Kaminari Says:


    I’ve just started using this blog as my first call for information about possible hikes and have to say it’s excellent!

    So far I’ve ventured up Kinpu San and Daibosatsu with my most recent effort being Kita Dake. I made this trip traveling fairly light so I managed to hit the ridge well within the times posted, but and this is my reason for posting, the alternative route down is a pretty nasty rock strewn corridor that was signposted as taking 3hrs and took me just over that.

    On the plus side If you needed a quicker route up the mountain I think this trail would be pretty interesting, it’s got some fairly exposed ridges near the top covered in ladders and stuff that make for nice variety.

    Another bonus is that Shiraneoike hut (白根御池小屋) will rent you a tent which might be useful for anyone traveling from abroad.

    All in all I love this Blog and I’m really buzzing for my next trip to the mountains!

  10. Rahul Says:

    the blog has instilled in me the urge to climb the mount. I plan to do it in the next weekend that 9th oct -10th oct 2010. I stay about half and hour away from shinjuku. I would like to know if i can take a bus from shinjuku and reach kofu by 0930 hours on the same day. That apart the most important querry is that some blogs mention the need to carry special mountaineering kits for the climb. Do you recommend the same. please let me know

    • wesu Says:


      I’m not sure about a Shinjuku to Kofu bus. I’m sure they exist, but I’ve never taken it. The train, though more expensive, will definitely be faster. Kofu is 90 minutes by train from Shinjuku. If you catch the first ‘Azusa’ Limited Express train at 7am, you’ll arrive at Kofu station at 8:28AM. If you want to arrive around 9:30am, then take the 8am train.

      No special equipment is needed for the hike, though a hiking stick will come in handy on the descent. You might need some crampons if it snows between now and next weekend, but usually the first snow doesn’t hit the Minami Alps until late October or early November.

      Let me know if you have any other questions


      • Rahul Says:

        thanks a lot for the info. I do not plan to climb the mountain if it snows anyways as i am not an experienced hiker. My only experience being Mt fuji which i climbed abuot a month ago and the semitropical forest mountains of south india. Is it required to book the hotels and the train tickets before. The lack of communication skills in Japanese is a major hurdle for me though. I am really thankful that i have a person who speaks in english to ask for help.

  11. wes Says:


    If you take the limited express train then you’ll have to buy a special ticket before getting on the train. You can get them from the ticket machine or go to the counter. If you want a reserved seat then you have to buy in advance as they might sell out, but I recommend buying a non-reserved seat. That way you can get on any train that you like. Non-reserved seat in Japanese is “jiyuu seki”.

    If you’re going to stay in a mountain hut then you don’t need to make a reservation. They always find room for anyone who wants to stay. If you’re going to stay in a hotel in the city then you might need a reservation depending on the time of year. Weekends are usually more crowded than weekends. I recommend going to the tourist information counter in the places you visit. They all speak English there and can help you find accommodation.

    • Rahul Says:

      Thanks a lot for the info.. If the weather permits I shall be climbing the mountain day after tomorrow. I shall surely update my experience on my return. It has been very kind of you in helping me out in this trek. I express my heartfelt thanks for all the respondents of this blog for all the information they have put on here.. bye

  12. Rahul Says:

    Hi Wesu and others
    I am happy to inform you that I completed the hike on last saturday and sunday. It was raining on saturday and cloudy on sunday morning hence we could not get to see Mt. fuji but as we walked down the clouds cleared up and gave us a view of Mt. Fuji. It was bright and sunny all the way down. Nevertheless the hike was worth the effort for the sheer beauty of the colours the mountain slope presents.. Wonderful experience.. Thanks everybody and especially wesu for timely and expedient suggestions.. Can i try Yariga take this weeekend or the next.. any suggestions

    • wes Says:


      I’m glad you had a good trip. Sorry about the weather. Autumn usually brings a lot of rain.

      There’s no snow on Mt. Yari yet so I say you should go for it! The hut near the summit is still open.


  13. John Says:

    I don’t think I need to comment on your website and how great it is. Thanks for all the information!

    Just a quick question. I’m planning on heading out to Kitadake next weekend and was wondering if you know how crowded it might be this time of year.


    • Rahul Says:

      @wesu thanks for the info, but i am not very sure of the climb as i have developed some infection and am on anitibiotics.. hopefully i make it..also I am finding non companion for the hike..
      I climbed the mount about 10 days ago on the weekend. I met about 20-25 people on route.. so don’t expect any crowd up there.. Its almost end of the climbing season i think.. U will have a wonderful time as the mt slopes are presenting some beautiful colours.. enjoy all the best for the trip..

  14. Erin Says:

    Are you based in Tokyo? I just wanted to post some info about how to get to this hike in the summer from Tokyo.

    Access from Tokyo:

    According to the timetable you posted, the first bus from Kofu to Hirogawara is at 4am. Many people take the last train from Shinjuku to Kofu, which arrives around midnight, on the night before they want to start thier hike. They sleep for a couple of hours at the station and then get up early to wait in line for the 4am bus, which arrives at Hirogawara at 6:11. If you want to do this hike over a weekend, I think this is probably the best way to go if you want to make it to the Kata-no-koya hut early. I’m going to do the same thing this Friday. I’ll post details about our experience if you like.

    Thanks for the great hiking blog!


    • wes Says:

      thanks for the info about access from Tokyo. I’m actually based in Osaka, so some of the access info might be a bit kansai-centric

      I hope you enjoyed your hike


  15. Jeff Says:

    Thanks for this website. I’ve found it to be a very helpful resource. I’m planning on going up to Kita-dake around Oct 1st.

    Before that I might try climbing Fuji around September 18th. I’ve heard that this right around the time that Fuji begins to get snow. Do you recommend crampons? How about an ice axe? Above you said they were necessary for late October, but how much snow can we expect in mid to late Sept?

    Thanks for any advice you can provide.

    • wes Says:


      Thanks for the comment. Mt. Fuji snow level varies from year to year. If you’re based in Japan then I think you’ll need to make the crampon decision based on the conditions just before you set off on your trip.

      If you’re coming from abroad then it might be a good idea to pack the ice axe and crampons. Worse case scenario is that you won’t need them and can leave them at a hotel.

      My rule of thumb is that I always carry a pair of 6-point crampons on any hike that I do in October. I’ve been caught in snowstorms above 2000m in mid-October, but have also been in the Minami Alps in mid-October without any snow.

      Check the webcams regularly in the days leading up to your trip. Weather will be vital to watch. Any typhoons or rain storms could easily bring snow or ice to peaks above 3000m during September and October

      Good luck planning your trip and let me know if you have other questions


  16. Gideon Lasco Says:

    Hi this is Gideon from the Philippines. Thanks so much for this website! It helped me a lot on my first hiking trip to Japan in 2008.

    This October I’m going back to try Kita-dake. Is it possible to include Ai-no-dake in a two-day itinerary from Hirogawara? I plan to stay at the Kata-no-koya.

    More power to your blog!


    • wes Says:


      I’m glad you find the site useful. The reason I created it was to offer information to fellow hikers, so I’m happy you continue to use it.

      To answer your question, yes it’s possible to climb Ai-no-dake but make sure you get an early start because it’s a long way from there back to Hirogawara. I’m not sure how fast you hike, but the maps say it’ll take about 3 hours from the summit of Kita-dake to the top of Ai-no-dake. It’s about a 45 minute climb from Kata-no-koya to the top of Kita. From Ai–no-dake to Hirogawara the maps say to allow 5 to 6 hours, but the path is really rocky, so it might take more.

      My advice would be to stay the first night at Kata-no-koya and then stay at the hut at Hirogawara (if you get off the mountain late). In October the sun usually sets around 5:30pm so keep this in mind.

      Let me know if you have any other questions


      • Gideon Lasco Says:

        Hello Wes,

        Thank you for your reply! It certainly looks exciting to do Kita and Ai in one go! But, my staging off point is Osaka, and am having a hard time sorting out the night buses, so am having second thoughts,if Kita-dake is worth the travel. Your articles on Mt. Shiraga and other Kansai hikes look tempting as well, so I’m weighing between Kita-dake and doing three dayhikes in a row!

  17. Pascal Says:

    Hi Wes, are you still maintaining this site? I plan to do the hike somewhere in July. Going by car, how much time you think is needed to go from Tokyo (center) to Hirogawara? What time would you suggest to leave to get to the Kita-dake kata-no-koya hut in time without booking? regards. Pascal

    • wes Says:

      thanks for the comment Pascal. Yep, I’m still maintaining the site.

      Not sure how long it’ll take by car, but during this season you can’t drive all the way into Hirogawara. You’ll need to take a shuttle bus from Yashajintouge. Private cars are not allowed to the trailhead, so you’ll need to factor in the extra time it takes to park your car and change to a shuttle bus. You could also take a taxi if you want.

      I think alot of it would depend on how fast you walk and how quickly you can acclimatize to the altitude. I think you’ll need at least 4 hours of tough hiking to reach the hut. If you want meals then I’d aim to arrive there sometime in the afternoon (try to get there before 3pm if you can). Of course you could always book ahead and then you can pretty much show up anytime.

      Which part of July are you going? I can imagine that the holiday weekend (July 14-16) will be particularly busy.

      I hope this helps.


  18. Pascal Says:

    Thank you Wes! Yes I understand July 14-16 will be very busy, I will wait another week-end or so. And your response confirmed my decision to drop the car and take the public transport instead. I also left a comment and 2 questions on your blog page “about this site”, I hope you can also find the time to answer me : )
    Cheers and thanks again.

  19. Richard Says:

    My regular climbing partner just left Japan. I want to climb Kita Dake in September but would much prefer not to do it alone. Given all of the logistics and scheduling involved, finding someone can be tough. Does any one know a good source of climbing buddies?

    Any advice would be helpful.
    Either English or Japanese speakers, or anything in between is fine.



  20. Eleanor Says:

    Hi, I’m currently trying to find a good multi-day hike (ideally 3-4 days), ideally in Kyushu (so I am primarily looking anywhere in the Alps). We won’t be bringing our own camping gear so need decent huts where we can pay for accomodation/food, experienced with long and tiring hikes but not so keen on super-steep terrain involving ladders and chains (ie. not an amazing head for heights). And we would like to leave most of our luggage somewhere and travel relatively light, so a loop would be ideal or at least a hike where it is relatively easy to get back to the starting point (or nearest JR station to the starting point) from the finish. I’m looking through the LP hiking guide and almost every single hike doesn’t quite work out for one of the above reasons (most likely candidate is the four day trip Kita-dake to Hijiri-dake but looks like that will involve epic travel at the end and we’d probably have to leave our stuff in Tokyo, which is annoying as we’ll ultimately be going on to Osaka/Kyoto so it involves backtracking). Do you have any recommendations?

  21. Marco Says:

    Hi Wesu,

    firstly thank you for the useful blog.
    I have gone through all the comments and I could not find any info about climbing Kita san on may.

    I am planning to go to Kita on the Golden week without proper equipment… What are the chances that there will be snow? Can I make it?

    Many thanks in advance man,

    • wes Says:


      I’d say that you’d still need an ice axe and crampons during Golden Week. I’m not sure if the bus to Hirogawara is running that early in the season. I found a trip report from 2005 and during that time you needed to walk in from Yashijin-toge.

      Here is the trip report. I have to idea about current snow conditions as I don’t live in Yamanashi but I’m sure you could call the city office in Kofu city and find out.

      Let me know if you have other questions,

  22. Fan Says:

    Hi wes, i was just wondering if theres any bus or any other form of transportation to hirogawara trail head around early june. If no, what other ways are there to get to hirogawara?


  23. saarikowski Says:

    Thank you very much for your great blog. I found that the bus to Hirogawara has a schedule which makes it difficult to do hikes as day-trips from Tokyo. That said, I started today with an early train from Shinjuku and did a trail run from Hirogawara to Kita-dake hut and back and enjoyed the trail, scenery and the good weather (finally!) very much. Total time 5:20. Unfortunately I had to skip the last summit section to catch the last bus to Kofu.

  24. Sandeep Says:

    Hi, Thanks for great blog. I am planning to do Mt Kita & Mt Aino starting from Hirogawara. I want help for finding the good hiking map. Can you or anybody in this forum help?

  25. Logan Says:


    I was wondering if the bus stops anywhere else on the way to Hirogawara. I’ll be driving, and if it stops at the 2 other locations that’s listed then that works perfect for me to be more flexible with the times.

    Thanks in advance! I was planning on going this weekend thanks to the guide

    • wes Says:

      The bus stops at Ashiyasu parking lot, which is the closest parking lot to Hirogawara. Private cars aren’t allowed into the trailhead, so you’ll have to catch this bus from Ashiyasu. The bus stops at Yashajin-toge, which is the starting point for the Mt. Houo hike, but there isn’t any parking at this pass.

  26. Zuza Says:

    Dear Wes, first of all thank you for this blog and updates – it is a great source of information! :) … We plan to do ca 4 days long trek in Minami Alps next week. Do you have any info on the weather conditions? Do you think there is still going to be snow on the trail?
    Dont you know when the bus starts to operate again in 2016?

    • wes Says:


      The bus schedule for 2016 hasn’t been released yet, but judging from last year, the buses to Hirogawara will likely start running at the end of June.

      Yes, there will still be quite a lot of snow i the Minami Alps next week, so you’d definitely need to bring an ice axe and at least 10-point crampons, especially for the section between Kita-dake and Ai-no-dake. To get to Hirogawara, you’ll need to walk from Yashajin-toge.

      Kai-koma, Senjo, and Hououzan have much better access this time of year. The bus to Kitazawa-toge is running from Iida valley in Nagano, and the trail from Yashijin-toge to Houou is well-traveled and the huts will be open next week.

      I hope that helps.

  27. hi wes! great job on this blog! this is a treasure trove of information! i am planning to do a solo trek to mt kita on the first or second week of september. first of all, would you recommend a solo trek? also, do you have an estimate of the total cost (park fees? guide? etc) once i get to hirogawwara? thanks in advance.

    • wes Says:


      Thanks for the kind words about the site.

      A solo climb of Kitadake is fine if you’ve got the experience. September can get quite cold on the mountain, so make sure you bring warm clothing.

      AS far as costs go, you’ll need to pay for the bus from Kofu to Hirogawara, as well as for your accommodation (camping is much cheaper than staying in the mountain huts). There are no park fees and you won’t need a guide either, as the trails are clearly marked.

      I hope that helps

  28. hi wes, thank you for the reply! im very excited to explore the mountains of japan. i will be there for two years as a scholar. hopefully i can meet a lot of new hiking buddies there

    • wes Says:

      No problem Henson. Oh, and please request to join the Facebook group again. I accidentally deleted your request. Sorry about that. I’ll add you to the group if you send another request

  29. Mike S Says:

    Hi Wes, thanks so much for the amazing website. I was planning to do a solo hike of Mt Kita and Mt Aino around June 20-21 this year. I have a couple questions for you:
    1. Do you think i can do this hike without crampons? I have read there might be a snow valley but I am not sure how tough it is.
    2. I have not seen the bus schedule published yet. Last year it started june 23 from Kofu to the trailhead. Do you know when it will be published? Is there another option if the bus is not running?
    Thanks for your help!

    • wes Says:


      Thanks for checking out my website. I hope it’s been useful.

      1) There will still be plenty of snow in the Happonba col and sawa, but you don’t have to go up that route. Instead, stick to the spur that goes to to Shirane Oike hut and then up along the Kusasuberi trail to the summit ridge. The ridge from Kitadake to Aino should be relatively free of snow by then. This year has been above average in terms of temperatures so the snow may melt earlier. However, Kitadake still gets the occasional snowstorm even in May. While you probably won’t need the full 10-point crampons, I would definitely bring a pair of 6-point crampons just in case. It’s much better off to overcompensate then to find yourself descending an icy snowfield without adequate purchase.

      2) Unfortunately they haven’t “announced” the bus schedule yet (I don’t know why they have to wait to publish these things.) Since June 23rd is also a Saturday this year, I can almost guarantee that bus service will start running from the 23rd this year. Your best bet is to call the bus company directly at 055(223)0821

      If the bus is not running, then your only option is to either walk along the road from Yashajintoge to Hirogawara or otherwise to start from Narada Onsen and climb up and over Mt. Notori-dake.

      I hope that helps.

      • Mike S Says:

        Thanks Wes, this is very helpful. It sounds like if the bus is running, I can do the Mt Kita route you suggested without crampons (but bring as a backup). I couldn’t find how long the walk is from Yashajintoge to Hirogawara. Is it many kilometers?

        As an alternative, are there other mountains you can suggest that would most likely not need crampons around this same time and have better transportation? Based on my research, Mt Aka-dake and Mt Daibosatsu look like good alternatives.Keen to hear your thoughts. Last year I did Mt Yake and Mt Fuji.

        I basically have June 20-June 24 in the Tokyo region, and then I am going to Hokkaido for a couple weeks of hiking up there! Your write-ups of the Hokkaido mountains look great!

      • wes Says:


        Yashajin to Hirogawara is 15km on a winding paved forest road. You may be able to hire a taxi if the road is open (there’s usually a gate/guard at the Yashijin tunnel entrance)

        Yatsugatake definitely has better public transport access, and the huts are all open this time of year.

        The only thing you need to be careful of is the weather, as late June is the rainy season in Japan. While it doesn’t rain every day, it will be humid with unstable weather and heavy downpours at times.

  30. 4lph4b1tch Says:

    I’m looking for the up to date bus schedules from Kofu to Hirogawara for summer 2018 and I’m having no luck locating them. Any chance you could help me locate them? Planning to do this hike the weekend of june 30th. If I’m staying in a hut, what do you recommend I bring with me, vs camping? I usually camp when hiking but the places I hike don’T usually have convenient mountain huts. I’m curious to stay in one.

    • wes Says:

      Here is the 2018 bus schedule:

      Click to access PDF.pdf

      If you stay in the huts, all you need to bring is money! They have bedding and accommodation includes breakfast and dinner. You will need to bring food to eat for lunch as well as other snacks, plus any other regular clothing/supplies that you usually bring for day hikes and such.

      Huts do require advance booking on Kitadake, especially this early in the season if you require meals. You can also stay in huts without meals, but that means you’ll need to bring all of your food and a campstove to cook it on.

      I hope this helps


  31. opfarhan Says:

    Hi Wes, great input here. I would like to ask,let say the i want to camp beside the mountain hut, is it possible to use the facilities there? is there any free hot water? if it is charged, how much it is?

    Been thinking of camping in the hut area just before the summit, and go for Aino dake in next day. Thanks !

  32. Rob Says:

    Hi Wes, are there any shops there to rent crampons if needed?

  33. Ray Cooper Says:

    Hi Dan
    I’m a wilderness hiker in the US and don’t want to sleep in a hut with a bunch of noisy hikers, are there places I can go and camp on my own?


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