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Mt. Kasagatake (笠ヶ岳)
elev. 2898m
Japan's 34th Highest Mountain

Unlike Mt. Yakushi-dake which was a real up-and-down roller coaster ride, Mt. Kasagatake (笠ヶ岳) was basically all an uphill climb, but the 1800-meter elevation gain to reach the summit was more of a workout than I'd bargained for.

Let's try to put it into a proper perspective. The 1800-meter (5900 ft.) climb from the Shin-Hotaka Onsen (新穂高温泉) (hot spring) bus stop to Mt. Kasagatake's summit is equivalent to:

1)  Well over a vertical mile
2)  Hiking from the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon up to the canyon's North Rim
3)  Climbing Japan's tallest skyscraper, the Landmark Tower in Yokohama, 6 times
4)  Climbing the Empire State Building in New York City over 4.5 times
5)  More than a 400-meter (~1300 ft.) higher climb than scaling Japan's tallest mountain, Mt. Fuji, from the 5th Station

Well, you get the picture.  smiley

Mt. Kasagatake & Kasagatake Sanso mountain hut
Mt. Kasagatake (笠ヶ岳) &
Kasagatake Sanso (笠ヶ岳山荘) mountain hut

From Sunshine to Clouds to Mist to Sleet to Snow

The most surprising part of this climb was the snowfall that started coming down mid-afternoon on Sat. Oct. 10, 2009 around elev. 2500m. After a big typhoon passed thru central Japan a couple days before, I was hopeful of having some good weather for my hike. Wrong. Although sunny early in the day, it proceeded to cloud up and then started misting. The mist then turned to sleet, and then it started snowing. Wonderful.

If that weren't enough, I slipped on the snowy rocks and sprained my ankle, which severely slowed my pace toward my goal for the day & sleeping spot, the Kasagatake Sanso (笠ヶ岳山荘) mountain hut.

I literally despise hiking on snow, and after it had covered not only the trail, but also the white circle trail markers painted on the rocks, it started to get interesting. And when nightfall came, I was still 45 minutes from the mountain hut and my headlamp was virtually worthless. My guardian angels were definitely working overtime.

My Mt. Kasagatake (笠ヶ岳) Pics & Video

I hope you enjoy my pics & video below, hosted at Flickr and YouTube, respectively ! The video, in particular, will give you a real feel for actually being there, especially life inside a Japanese mountain hut.

Japan's mountain hut system is definitely convenient, eliminating the need for a tent, sleeping bag, cook stove, or lots of food. As a result, most Japanese people hike with TINY packs. I haven't quite got it mastered, however, because with 1.5 liters of water, mine weighed in at over 11kg. Ugh...

My Pics of Mt. Kasagatake (笠ヶ岳), elev. 2898m,
Japan's 34th highest peak,
Oct. 9-11, 2009
(complete Flickr set here)

My Video of Mt. Kasagatake (笠ヶ岳), elev. 2898m,
Japan's 34th highest peak,
Oct. 9-11, 2009

My Google Map of Mt. Kasagatake (笠ヶ岳)

In Oct. 2009 I created the customized map below, as I thought it'd be cool to see all of Japan's 25 highest mountains at a glance.

Although as Japan's 34th highest peak, Mt. Kasagatake (笠ヶ岳) is not among the 25 highest, zooming out on the map below will allow you to see all of the 25 highest mountains in Japan.

(zoom out to see all 25 highest mountains)

View 25 Highest Mountains in Japan in a larger map

Route Map of Mt. Kasagatake (笠ヶ岳)


One of the smartest things I did before this trip was go to Tokyo's Akihabara Electric Town and buy a $150 Casio ProTrek triple sensor watch (similar to the one on the right), which includes an altimeter, barometer, thermometer, and digital compass.

The most amazing thing is it records your elevation reading automatically every 15 minutes and holds up to 50 records, meaning you can record over 12 hours of data. As a result, I was able to track my elevation progress both up and down Mt. Kasagatake for the entire duration of my hiking journey.

If you're interested in my hiking times (slow!), expenses (ouch!), or the aforementioned elevation profile (I LOVE my new watch!), I've compiled a special page showing my Mt. Kasagatake (笠ヶ岳) hiking schedule, elevation profile, and expenses.

Honestly speaking, I wasn't planning on mountain climbing this year, and thus was seriously out of shape, but with the passage of Typhoon 18 on Thurs. Oct. 8 and the approaching 3-day weekend (Mon. Oct. 12 was Sports Day, a national holiday), I decided to go for it.  

An Expensive Trip !

There are much cheaper (albeit slower & not so convenient ways) to get to Shin-Hotaka Onsen (新穂高温泉), but I suddenly got alpine fever and was ready to get the heck outta Dodge....quickly. It's terribly expensive to travel around inside of Japan, and for the same amount of cash I forked over for this trip (>$500), I could've taken a nice 3-day overseas vacation to a place like Korea or Guam.

But it was an awesome trip, nonetheless. Please stop by again soon, as I intend to add more details later on this Mt. Kasagatake climbing trip. As I recommended at the end of the above YouTube video, "Stay fit and keep hiking !"   smiley

Oh yeah, the Kasagatake Sanso (笠ヶ岳山荘) mountain hut has a great website (mostly in Japanese), including up-to-date pics, trail route/access info, a live webcam, and a blog.

Check it out when you get a chance: The Mt. Kasagatake (笠ヶ岳) hiking route map (in Japanese) on that site is here:

Please stop by again soon, as I intend to update this page periodically with more details in the future. If you have any quick questions for me, feel free to give me a shout by posting them in the "Add your comment" section below or by clicking on the "Contact Me" link at the top right of this page.

And if you've already climbed Mt. Kasagatake (笠ヶ岳) & you'd care to pay it forward by sharing your climbing story & pics with other climbers, we'd love to hear of your personal experience. You can share your story here.

Additional links:
Mt. Kasagatake (笠ヶ岳) summit 6-day weather forecast
Mt. Kasagatake (笠ヶ岳) topo map (from the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan)
Mt. Oku-Hotaka-dake/Mt. Yari-ga-take route map (includes Mt. Kasagatake (笠ヶ岳)) (1:50,000 hiking map, part of the Yama-to-kogen Chizu series published by Shobunsha, available in bookstores and from Amazon Japan)

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Gary J. Wolff

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