Posted tagged ‘Hiking in Japan’

Mt. Kiyomi (清見岳)

April 15, 2023

Extra information:

A taxi should cost less than 2000 yen from Satsuma-Imaizumi station (it cost me around 1800 yen). I ended up traversing over the far side of the mountain and walked down toward the lake, where I hitched a ride to Nigatsuden station. It’s much easier to hitch a ride if you made a sign saying Eki (train station). The path on the far side of the summit is well-marked with pink tape and it’ll drop to a forest road. If you turn left you can apparently loop back to where you started the hike, but if you want to go toward the lake then turn right and follow the road and turn left at the next junction and you’ll soon reach route 247. If you want to hitch from Satsuma-Imaizumi station then walk out of the station, turn right, and then another right on route 28 which will take you to Ikeda. The shoulder is narrow here, so make sure you walk up the road for 5 minutes to 田之上商店, a small shop on your right, where there is a wider shoulder here so cars can potentially stop.

You could also combine an ascent of Mt. Kiyomi together with Mt. Kaimon .

If coming by car, then there is a parking space just below the tea fields across from the first torii gate.

Mt Tsuno (角山)

April 2, 2023

Extra details:

The hike to the summit is pretty straightforward. The trailhead to Kasayama is hard to find as it’s completely unmarked. From the trailhead of Mt Tsuno head down the road to the right of the small shrine and walk straight toward the peak which sits due east. The trailhead is on the same street as Sakaide St. Martin’s Hospital and it very close to a cemetery named 坂出さくら離宮. Here is a pin on Google maps. Cross over the chain spanning the concrete driveway and walk along the edge of the cemetery and follow the trail up to the summit. The path steepens just before the summit, climbing through a short rocky section. The panoramic views from the summit of Kasayama are nothing short of spectacular, but be warned: there is absolutely no shade on the narrow summit, so take care on hot sunny days.

I forgot to mention in the video, but there is a swing and pull-up bar on the summit of the mountain, which is where I did the pull-up in the closing credits.

Mt. Ōyama (大山)

March 24, 2023

Extra details:

There are two main routes up the mountain, either via the cable car (or the trail running alongside) or from Yabitsu-tōge.

Yabitsu-tōge route:

If coming by car, there’s a small parking lot at the trailhead. Otherwise, you can access it by infrequent bus from Hadano station (秦野駅) on the Odakyu Odawara line. The trail itself is very well-used and easy to follow, making it nearly impossible to get lost. On a clear day, there are nice views of Mt Fuji, Tanzawa, and Yokohama city. The summit itself is a bit run down, with antenna, decrepit shrine buildings, and picnic tables. It’s not a mountain to climb if you’re looking for beauty, but it is quite convenient for those of you based in Tokyo.

Mt Nagusa (名草山)

March 23, 2023

Extra Details:

For more details on Kimiidera temple, click here.

Local trains on the JR Kinokuni line are infrequent, so if coming from Osaka by train, please check the connection times before departing.

Descent route description:

For some reason, there aren’t any signposts on the mountain, making it quite easy to take a wrong turn if you’re not careful. The route from the temple to the summit is pretty straightforward (if you follow the instructions in the above video). From the summit, head north along the broad summit plateau and ignore every trail heading off the ridge until you reach a big picnic table with bamboo seating. This is a 3-way junction. Take the trail on the far side of this table as it heads in the direction of the buildings at the foot of the mountain. Don’t take the trail to the left marked for 紀三井寺 as it heads back to the temple. Drop down the steep trail and turn right at the first junction (there’s a small signpost pointing back in the direction you just came marked for 一本松広場). Continue straight and ignore a trail on your left heading down into the forest. Instead, veer left and straight here for a short distance until reaching another unmarked junction at a rock wall and stone gully. Turn right here and enter the gully, following it down to reach a shrine, cemetery, and temple. Once you reach the houses, zigzag your way back to the station (using Google Maps to help guide you).

Omoteyama (Kasama Alps)

March 11, 2023

Extra details:

Extra details:

The full route from Iwama (岩間駅) to Fukuhara (福原駅) is well-marked, with white signposts for Kasama Wagakuni-Atago Hiking Trail at regular intervals. Be warned that it is a long route (15.8km) with a lot of up-down, so make sure you bring plenty of liquids and give yourself at least 4 hours (though it’ll probably take closer to 6).

Traverse route:

From Iwama station, follow the signs to Mt Atago. The video above describes the route to Mt Minami in great details. From Mt Minami stay on the main trail, following the signs toward Mt Nandai (難台山). After hiking up and down over a few undulating hills, the path drops steeply via fixed ropes to Dango-ishi Pass (団子石峠). Turn left on the paved forest road and then an immediate right (past a couple of parking spaces). It’s a long hike up to Mt. Nandai over a series of smaller peaks. Take your time and follow the signs as it leads past a number of boulders, especially Dango Boulder, Shishiga-han Boulder and Byobu Boulder. Just before the summit the terrain gets quite rocky and the broad summit is a great place for a break. You’re halfway there distance wise, so on the far side of the summit drop down the steep trail and up and over a few more hills until you drop down to another paved road at Dōrokushintōge (道祖神峠). Follow the signs and pass through a forest briefly before reaching a red-roofed structure and some green signposts for Wagakuni (ハイキングコース吾国山頂). Climb up and cross over the forest road where it is a very steep and hard climb to the summit. The top is marked by a rustic shrine and it overlooks the mountains of Oku-Nikko. You can see Mt. Nasu, Mt. Nantai, Mt. Okushirane, Mt. Hiuchi, and Mt. Sukai on a clear day. From here take the trail to the right of the shrine (if you are facing the building) and drop through a forest of towering beech trees. There are roped off walkways here that meander past all of the big trees, but you’ll basically want to head down past a small pond and into the forest. After 30 minutes you’ll reach the edge of a village and will pop out into civilization. Continue following the signposts as they take you to Fukuhara station.


Iwama station takes about 2 hours from Ueno on the JR Jōban line. Fukuhara station is also about 2 hours from Tokyo. You may find it faster to change to the Kanto Railway train at Shimodate station (下館駅) instead of staying on the JR Mito line all the way. If you change at Shimodate, take the train to Moriya (守谷) station, where you can change to the Tsukuba Express for Akihabara. Otherwise you’ll need to change back to the JR Jōban line at Tomobe station.

Mt. Mitsuboshi (三星山) – Mt. Ryūzen (龍神山) loop

March 9, 2023

Extra tips:

DO NOT attempt the route from Kizestsu-kyo (奇絶峡) as it is incredibly steep and exposed. Instead, it’s much better and safer to do this hike as a loop starting from 佐向口登山口. There are a couple of parking spaces near the entrance. Otherwise, you can either take a taxi from Kii-Tanabe station to the trailhead or an infrequent bus bound for Ryujin Onsen and alight at Yahagi (矢はぎ) bus stop. Click here for the bus schedule.


The route from 佐向口登山口 first starts on a gravel forest road marked by a lot of cairns. Follow the mountain river upstream and pay attention to the tape marks. After 15 minutes or so you’ll reach the junction for the loop hike. The signposts are old, but rumor has it they will be replaced by the city soon. Anyway, turn left at this junction (instead of taking the trail straight further up the river) and follow the tape marks. You’ll first pass by a small waterfall flowing over some layers of rock, with a small altar and shrine gate resting at the entrance. Follow the switchbacks above the river and continue heading upstream, over a series of river crossings. At the junction, turn right and continue upward, where the trail soon splits. You can take either way, but a right turn here will offer more views as it climbs up a spur. Both trails meet up further on so take your pick. You’ll soon reach Ryūjin (or Ryūzen, as both readings are correct) shrine punctuated by some very massive trees in places. From here it’s a simple 15-minute ascent to the summit. Just before the summit plateau, ignore the trail junction (龍神分岐) heading right (you will take this later) and head straight on, past the castle ruins and up onto the summit of Mt. Ryūzen (龍神山). Take a quick break to admire the views.

From the summit, retrace your steps back to the junction and turn left at 龍神分岐. There’s a sign here that says 三星山山頂 75分. The route is well-marked and starts off relatively flat before quickly losing altitude as it descends to a narrow saddle called 三星のコル. Take a sip of water and stow away your trekking poles, as things are about to become interesting. For the next hour or so, you’ll be involved in a fight against gravity, making your way up cliff faces with fixed ropes. Watch your footing as the rock is gritty sandstone that can be slippery depending on the traction of your shoes. It is A LOT easier to go up this route than down (see video above), but take it slow and enjoy the many vantage points along the way as you reach the cliff tops en route. Just below the summit, the climbing will become easier and once you reach the summit, settle down to a well-deserved break. If you would rather take your lunch break at a viewpoint, then continue past the summit just a few minutes (DO NOT take the trail left off the summit but continue straight on the well-used route) and you’ll reach a big rock formation with excellent views. After taking in the view, continue on the descent through a couple of fixed rope sections until reaching another saddle called 西岡のコル. The signposts here are tattered, but turn right at this junction for the signpost marked 竜星の辻. It will take about 30 minutes of so to reach the first junction of your hike, thereby completing the loop. The loop will probably take about 4 hours depending on how long you spend taking photos and enjoying the views.


Click here for a YAMAP post showing the route.

The Love Letter

February 27, 2023

Extra details:

For a detailed map of all the art installations, inquire at the information center next to Fujino station.

There aren’t any convenience stores (apart from up on the expressway), so please stock up before you come.

Mt. Shakujō (錫杖ヶ岳)

February 18, 2023

Additional details:

Best Season:

This hike can be done year round, but definitely bring along a pair of crampons in the winter and DO NOT attempt the final chain section if conditions are icy. There are mountain leeches in the vicinity. so avoid hiking between June and August. Air pollution can be a problem in Mie Prefecture, so try to climb on a clear day with good air quality so you can get good views.

A closer look at Hiking in Japan, 2nd edition

September 7, 2009

This guidebook is now out-of-print. The replacement book, entitled Best Day Hikes Japan, is slated for release on March 2nd, 2021.

LP cover

Changes: Despite the obvious aesthetic changes which I will cover a little later, I think it’s most prudent to start with the content changes. In line with other guidebook updates, the publishers have kept most of the existing print intact, so those of you looking for new hikes not mentioned in the first edition may be a bit disappointed. However, extra information has been added in the ‘extra hikes’ section (currently renamed as ‘more hikes’). For instance, there’s an alternate trail leading off from Yari-ga-take towards Otensho-dake that wasn’t mentioned in the first edition. This is a good chance to view the Hotaka range from a different perspective. On the Tsurugi-san hike in Shikoku there are a couple of alternative routes that weren’t mentioned before, including a descent down the northern face of Miune. Hokkaido dwellers will be happy to note that Shari-dake has been added to the list of extra hikes. The Kansai section has been completely reworked, and two of the most problematic hikes (Yura-gawa and Kunimi-dake) have been moved from the main section to the ‘more hikes’ section.

The ‘easy-medium-difficult’ rating system from the first edition has been renamed ‘easy-moderate-demanding.’ I’m not sure if it’ll be any easier for newcomers to grasp the physical exertion required for the hikes, but each multi-day hike listed in the new edition now includes expected hiking time, distance, and vertical elevation gains (hooray!). A new section in the front of the book has been added called ‘History and Culture of Hiking’, which includes information about the Hyakumeizan, pilgrimages, and the role of religion in the mountains. Most of this information was scattered through the first edition but has now been consolidated into one easy-to-reference section.

Now let’s move onto the appearance. The green color scheme of the first edition has been replaced by vibrant tones of red. The maps also reflect this new design, and are much easier to read and decipher than the original ones. Rumor has it you’ll be able to pore over your maps under a full moon without a torch!

Old Map

Old Map

New Map

New Map

All of the photographs have been relocated to a section at the very beginning of the guidebook. This is good news for those of you who had to tear out the pictures in the old book that were always placed in annoying locations. Most of the general stuff that appears in every Lonely Planet guidebook (Health and Safety, Getting Around, et al) has been pushed to the very back of the new edition. This is great news for those sharp souls who noticed that the very first hike in the 1st edition didn’t begin until page 112! The first hike now begins on page 61 (phew.)

The verdict: So, now that you’re familiar with what to expect, the million dollar question would have to be whether or not to purchase the new edition. Those of you who don’t have the first edition but are truly interested in getting into the outdoors should definitely consider purchasing the update. If you’ve got the first edition and have done over 90% of the hikes contained within, then I wouldn’t put it too high on your priority list. However, if you’ve been served well by the first edition and have yet to check out some of the hikes, then it might be worth your while to pick up the new book. If you’re not too keen on shelling out the 2700 yen for the book but are still interested in adding it to your collection, just remember that you could always ask one of your friends or family members to buy it for your as a birthday/graduation/holiday present. Or, if you want to get really creative as I did, then you can convince your private student to give it to you in lieu of a lesson payment.