Odai-ga-hara (大台ヶ原)

Odai-ga-hara ranks up there with Utsukushi-ga-hara, Mt. Hachimantai and Kiri-ga-mine as the most accessible of the Hyakumeizan, as you can practically drive to the top. The views on a clear day are outstanding, but the entire place can be downright depressing when the cloud is in, which is more often than not.

The hike: This is a loop hike, so it can be done in either direction. From the enormous parking lot, follow the signs (and crowds) past the visitor’s center towards Hide-ga-take (日出ヶ岳), the true summit of Odai-ga-hara. It’s a mind-numbing 120m vertical ascent that can practically be done barefoot. The views are really nice on the rare occasion that it isn’t raining. From here, you could continue past the peak and descend into Osugi-dani (大杉谷), but I’m not sure if the trail has been re-opened yet (Editor’s note: It has been reopened). If the trail is open, then prepare yourself for one of the gnarliest, steepest drops in the Kansai area. If you’re just up for the day, then continue on the same trail for an easy 30-minute stroll over to Masaki-ga-hara (正木ヶ原). There are plenty of deer in this area, and the foliage and moss are wonderful. Soon after passing this area, a trail will come in from the right, but ignore it and follow the signs towards Daija-gura (大蛇嵓), an exposed rock formation with vertigo-inducing views of the valley below. This is the most famous (and popular) part of the hike, but only worth it on a clear day. Daija-gura is accessible via a dead-end spur trail branching off to the left. Retrace your steps back to the main trail and turn left for the 1 hour hike back to the parking lot. All together it’s a 9km hike, but because of the relative flatness of the mountain, it should only take about 2-1/2 hours to complete. Yet another peak where getting there will take much more time than the actual hike.

When to go: This hike can be done from late April to late November, when the bus to the summit is running. If you’re prepared for a long hike, then you can also do this during the winter, where you can avoid the crowds. Unfortunately you’ll need your own transport to get to the trailhead.

Access: From Abenobashi (阿倍野橋) station in Tennoji, take the Kintetsu Yoshino Line bound for Yoshino (吉野) and get off at Yamato-Kamiichi (大和上市) station. From there, change to a bus bound for Odai-ga-hara (大台ケ原) and get off at the last stop. The bus runs from late April to November 25th, and there are only 2 buses a day on weekends, and 1 bus a day on weekdays. Click here for the bus schedule.

Level of difficulty: 0 out of 5 (elevation change ~120m).

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12 Comments on “Odai-ga-hara (大台ヶ原)”

  1. Kirt Cathey Says:

    Thanks for this information. Just found your site today, and I’m attempting to do a similar thing for Hakone, Izu, Tanzawa, and any other mountains I climb. Added you to my blogroll.

  2. Willie Says:

    What’s the latest on the re-opening of the trail down into Osugidani? Any idea if it’s do-able anyway?

    • wesu Says:


      I hope all is well. Have you finished all of the Hyakumeizan yet?

      Sorry for the late reply. I actually just got back from Odai-ga-hara. I went up there for a day hike today and was trudging through 10cm of fresh snow!

      The lady in the visitor center was pretty pessimistic about when the trail would re-open. She said definitely NOT this year and definitely NOT next year, which means it’ll be 2011 at the very earliest.

      The reason why you can’t do the traverse is that the suspension bridges were washed out in the typhoon in 2004. I’ve been on these bridges and can tell you that it’s not going to be easy to rebuild. They cross canyons several hundred feet above the valley floor! There’s absolutely no way around unless you bring ropes and plan to repel into the river and climb back up the other side.

      Sorry for the bad news. I guess the only way to see the gorge is to drop down from Odai, traverse as far as you possibly can, and the backtrack back up to Odai.

      • Willie Says:

        Odaigahara’s the last one. Was hoping I could head up through the gorge. Ah well, not to be. Thanks for the update.

  3. Willie Says:

    Trail Update:

    If you’re hanging on to the 1st Edition of Lonely Planet’s ‘Hiking in Japan’ and considering hiking UP to Odaigahara out of season from the town of Kawai, as it suggests, then please be aware that the course is officially closed. There are no signs to alert you to this fact until you are several hours and well over halfway into the hike. And of course they’re only in Japanese. By that point all the dangerous parts have been passed. The trail is frustratingly overgrown here and there and easy to lose. You really need to stop and hunt around for it in places. It has been washed away at one or two points into steep gullies consisting of some pretty unstable/loose ground. That said,it’s do-able as a spring/summer/autumn hike and a wonderful contrast to the crowded summit area but if you’re going to attempt it definitely let someone know where you are going beforehand because there’ll probably be nobody else out and about on the trail. As for a winter hike, as Lonely Planet suggests, depending on the amount of snow on the ground I think it could turn out to be a pretty frustrating/risky endeavour.

    • wesu Says:


      Thanks so much for the information about the alternate trail. I had wondered about the condition of that trail, since most people take the paved road to the summit nowadays. I think in winter the best option is just to snowshoe/cross-country ski up the forest road.

      Congrats on making it to Odai-ga-hara and for finishing the Hyakumeizan!

  4. Scott Says:

    Thanks for the info. Was planning a late April trip to hike up from Kawai, and on to Osugi . . would have been frustrating to get that far and find the trail shut down.

    Good work on the site.

  5. Michael Says:

    I climbed down the Osugi-dani well over 10 years ago.. it was a great experience. Too bad that the trail was washed away in that taifun. Last fall I asked the lady at the information booth if the trail would reopen and she said that it would be impossible to reopen the trail,, but would have to make a new trail and that there are no plans to do so.

  6. Florian Says:

    The trails are open again ;)!

    • wes Says:


      Thanks for the update. Yes, I heard the trail down to Osugi-dani has reopened as of last year, but hadn’t gotten around to updating the hike description. Thanks for the reminder!

      • For what it’s worth, the Osugi-dani trail was absolutely gorgeous. I did it the last week of November and it was pretty charming starting in a temperate rain forest with waterfalls gushing out of the mountains every few kilometres and then finishing up in the snow at Odai…Given it was the ‘last week’ of the climbing season, there was hardly anyone on the mountain. I’d definitely fear the crowds during peak season…

        Getting to Osugidani via public transport was a bit of a mess though. I went from Kyoto to Osaka to Matsusaka and from there to Miseidani and from there took a reservation-only bus to Osugidani-tozanguchi (10:30 am departure with a 12:00 eta.)

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