Posted tagged ‘Enzan’

Mt. Kobushi (甲武信岳)

March 24, 2008

Mt. Kobushi is a pointy peak straddling the border of Yamanashi and Saitama prefectures. The views out to Mt. Fuji are superb and the fall colors breathtaking.

Mt. Kobushi

The hike: From the bus stop, hike up the road towards Nishizawa gorge. The trailhead will be on the right side of the road after about 20 minutes or so. You’ve got 2 trail options. One is signposted on the right, while the other is behind the creepy-looking Nishizawa hut (西沢山荘) a little further along the road. Take your pick, as both trails meet up along the way. I’ve been told that the one behind the hut, called “Tokuchan” path (徳ちゃん新道), is more commonly used, and that’s the one I used. The trail wastes no time in climbing through a cedar forest. After about 2-1/2 hours of steep climbing, you’ll come to a trail junction (the meeting of the 2 paths I mentioned earlier). Take a break here, and get ready for 600 more meters of vertical altitude gain. It’ll take another 2 hours of tough slogging to reach the saddle and junction just below the summit of Mt. Tokusa (木賊山). The trail to the right will lead to Mt. Hafu (破風山), but ignore this trail and head left to Mt. Kobushi. After reaching the summit of Mt. Tokusa, the trail drops steeply to a saddle between the 2 peaks. There’s a nice hut here awaiting you, with a camping area and water source. Consider staying here to break this hike up into a more leisurely 2-day trek. From the hut, it’s a steep, 20-minute hike to the summit of Kobushi. If the weather is good, you’ll have an awesome view of Mt. Fuji directly in front of you, as well as the Minami, Chuo, and Kita Alps, Yatsu-ga-take, Mt. Asama, and all of the peaks of Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park. Either retrace your steps back to the hut, or continue on the trail from the summit over to Jumonji-toge (十文字峠), where you’ll find another hut and an alternative way off the mountain. Nishizawa gorge, at the start of the hike, is worthy of a side trip if you’ve got extra time/energy either before or after the hike.

When to go: This hike can be done year round, but expect a fair amount of snow if you go in the winter. The hut staff recommend that you come during the rainy season, as the rich green foliage glitters when wet and the mountain is empty of hikers! The fall colors are beautiful and bring the crowds to Nishizawa.

Access: From the southern exit of Enzan station (塩山駅), take a bus bound for Nishizawa-keikoku iriguchi (西沢渓谷入口) and get off at the last stop. Click here to access the bus schedule. Alternatively, you can do this hike as a 2 night, 3-day trek from Mt. Mizugaki.

Level of difficulty: 4 out of 5 (elevation change 1415m)

Mt. Daibosatsu (大菩薩岳)

February 26, 2008

Mt. Daibosatsu is a pleasant day hike through virgin forest, with magnificent views of Mt. Fuji and the Minami Alps. Its easy access from Tokyo makes it quite popular on weekends.

Mt. Daibosatsu (大菩薩岳)

The hike: From the bus stop, start hiking up the paved forest road and you’ll soon reach a trail junction at a place called Marukawatouge Bunki (丸川峠分岐). You can take either trail, as this is a loop hike, but it’s an easier hike if you climb the trail to the right and descend via the left trail. Anyway, the trail to the right basically follows the forest road, but goes through a beautiful beech forest, with nice views of the Minami Alps opening up between the foliage. It should take about 90 minutes or so to reach the first hut at Kamihikawatouge (上日川峠). From here it’s a very gentle hike along a forest road to 2 more huts. If you’ve got a car you can drive all the way to this point, but not during the winter season. Also, I’ve been told that only customers staying in the two huts are allowed vehicle access this far. Anyway, at Fujimisansou (富士見山荘) the trail splits and you’ve got 2 options. The trail on the left climbs directly to the peak, but take the one on the right so you can reach historic Daibosatsutouge (大菩薩峠). This used to be a famous mountain pass on the old Tokaido road, a path leading from Tokyo to Osaka. There’s another hut here. The trail splits in several directions , but stay left and climb toward Daibosatsurei (大菩薩嶺). It should take about an hour to reach the peak. Along the way, enjoy the awesome view of Mt. Fuji stretching out behind you. This place can get jam-packed on weekends, so choose your rock of choice to eat your lunch on. Just before reaching the true high point, the trail enters a forest. There’s no view from the actual peak, so make sure you take a break before getting there. After taking your obligatory photo, continue on the same trail and you’ll pass over to the other side of the mountain and start decending. In about an hour you’ll reach another hut by the name of Marukawasou (丸川荘). This is another good place for a snack break. The trail splits in 3, but head toward the left and in about an hour, you’ll be exactly where you started, at good ole Marukawatouge. When you get back to the bus stop, consider walking down the main road about a half a kilometer and you’ll reach a lovely hot spring appropriately called Daibosatsunoyu (大菩薩の湯). You probably spied it on the bus ride up. The only disadvantage of walking down here is that you’ll probably won’t be able to get a seat on the return bus because everyone got on at the trailhead bus stop!

When to go: The bus runs all year round, and the peak doesn’t get so much snow in the winter, so this one can be done any time of year.

Access: From Shinjuku station, take the JR Limited Express “Kaiji” train and get off at Enzan Station (塩山駅). The train takes about 90 minutes and costs around 3500 yen. There are lots of slower but cheaper options, so choose according to budget/start time. From Enzan Station, take a bus bound for Daibosatsutōge-tozanguchi (大菩薩峠登山口). The bus takes about a half an hour and costs the ridiculously low price of 300 yen, making it the one of the cheapest public bus in all of Japan. Click here for the schedule.  Likewise, Enzan station is only 20 minutes from Kofu station by local train, so Kansai-based hikers can do the hike in a weekend by taking a Kofu-bound overnight bus from Osaka.

Level of difficulty: 3.5 out of 5 (elevation change 1167m)