Mt. Kita-dake, Japan's second-highest mountain, is one of the
Shiranesanzan (白根三山, "3 white summits"), along with Mt.
Ai-no-dake, and Mt.
Notori-dake. Mt. Kita-dake is not only the tallest mountain
in the Southern Japan Alps, but is also one of the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains
(日本百名山, Nihon Hyaku-meizan).
It is also the only one of
Japan's 25 highest mountains that I have climbed 3 times. The first time
was October 1-3, 1993 (this page), when I went with one of my fellow English
teaching friends from Canada, Mr. Mike Hodges, and one of my English
Mt. Kita-dake (北岳) is one of Japan's highest mountains that you can do
in a weekend from Tokyo. In fact, I worked till 9 PM on that Friday
night and we were back in Tokyo by Sunday night.
Because we got a late start on Friday night, we didn't arrive at Kofu
Station till after midnight, and then shared a taxi up to the
Hirogawara (広河原) trailhead. So on Saturday morning we got a nice early
start shortly after daybreak.
with Mike Hodges & Takahashi-san
Mt. Kita-dake (北岳) Route Description
About 20 minutes down the trail from the Hirogawara (広河原)
trailhead, you have a choice of two routes, so you can do the
up-and-down course in a loop. But both of the mountain huts, Shirane-oike-koya
(白根御池小屋) and Kata-no-koya
(肩ノ小屋), are on the
right-hand trail, so at the fork we chose to go up the left-hand trail,
which follows the Okabasawa (大樺沢) mountain stream in the direction of
Futamata (二俣) and Happonba-no-koru (八本歯のコル), so we'd reach our sleeping
spot on the way back down.
Another good place to stay, if you're headed south to peaks like Mt.
Ai-no-dake & Mt. Shiromi-dake is the Kita-dake-sanso mountain hut
(北岳山荘), but it's a little out of your way if you're just making the
loop route I'm describing on this page.
One of the beauties of hiking in the Japanese Alps is there are plenty
of built-in ladders, chains, ropes, and even stairs to assist your
climbing. And Mt. Kita-dake is no exception….there are numerous
ladders, as you can see in my photo album below.
We were blessed with great weather that weekend, and one bonus was the
breathtaking view of Mt. Fuji from the summit of Mt. Kita-dake. Some of
my favorite pics from the trip were those of us atop Japan's
second-highest mountain, with a view of Japan's highest mountain in the
Mt. Kita-dake, Japan's 2nd highest mountain,
with Mt. Fuji, Japan's highest, in the background
It was so clear that day that we could also see all the way to the Kita
Alps, as well as Yatsu-ga-take to the east.
After a nice relaxing lunch and enjoying the breathtaking views, we
then hiked down first to the Kata-no-koya mountain hut (肩ノ小屋), where we
stopped briefly to wet our whistles with a cold drink, then continued
down to the Shirane-oike-koya mountain hut (白根御池小屋) where we spent the
night. Takahashi-san camped in his tent while Mike and I stayed in the
hut. I believe that set us back around ¥8000 each, including dinner and
Our two-hour hike back down to Hirogawara (広河原) the next morning was
very pleasant, where we crossed a number of beautiful
tributaries and their waterfalls of
Okabasawa (大樺沢) mountain stream, and we were blessed with yet another
Depending upon which trail map you consult, which route you choose
(right side or left side), and whether you have to contend with any
snow, from the Hirogawara trailhead to the summit
of Mt. Kita-dake, it should take you between 6-8 hours up and 3-5 hours
down. The net elevation gain is around 1700m, as compared to the
approximate 1500m required to climb Mt. Fuji on the main Kawaguchiko
trail from the fifth station.
My Mt. Kita-dake (北岳) Pics
My pics below are hosted at Flickr. Clicking on the thumbnail collage
will open up my photo album at Flickr on a separate page, or you can
them sequentially in the slideshow player below. I hope you enjoy them !
above to view a slideshow of my Mt. Kita-dake pics, taken
Oct. 2-3, 1993.
(View all pics at a glance here.)
My Google Map of Mt. Kita-dake (北岳)
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. Google
Maps recently added the Google Earth feature to their maps, which
offers a very impressive 3D view if you have Google Earth installed on
Using GE's tilt & rotate features, you can actually fly around
Mt. Kita-dake as if you were in an airplane:
One of the best ways to get to JR Kofu Station (甲府駅) is to take the
Azusa limited express train from Shinjuku Station (新宿駅), which only
about an hour and a half. The westbound JR express train Shinjuku to
are here (timetables for eastbound JR
express trains back to Shinjuku are here). Also, there are obviously
slower and cheaper ways to get there on JR's Chuo Line. More info in
English is available from JR East at (050) 2016–1603, 10:00 to 18:00,
every day of the year except during the year-end/new year
From JR Kofu Station, it takes about two hours by bus or taxi to reach
the Hirogawara (広河原) trailhead. That's right..... if your train and bus
schedules work out right, you can be hiking in less than four hours
after leaving Shinjuku. Among Japan's highest mountains, this makes Mt.
Kita-dake without question one of the most easily accessible peaks from
Bus transportation is available via Yamanashi
Kotsu (Tel: 0552-23-0821)
which provides varying levels of service from Kofu Station to
Hirogawara between June and
November. For the 2012 climbing season, buses run from 6/25
11/9 and cost ¥1900 for the 1-way trip. Bus service is also available
from Minobu Station (身延駅). Bus schedules are posted on their website
only during climbing season.
Private cars are restricted on the road to Hirogawara during this same
6/25-11/9 time period, but 650 free spaces are available at
the Ashiyasu municipal parking area (市営芦安駐車場) along the route from Kofu
and 100 free spaces are available at the Narada (奈良田) parking
along the route from Minobu Station (身延駅).
From those parking areas,
service to Hirogawara is available, also from Yamanashi Kotsu. It takes
an hour and a half
bus from Narada to Minobu Station, and then another hour and 20 min. to
JR Kofu Station.
If you have any extra time to kill after your hike and don't need to
rush back home, I highly recommend that you soothe your sore muscles in
a nice hot spring
rotemburo in the Yumura Spa area, a 10-minute bus
ride from JR Kofu Station. And it'll only dent your pocketbook by
¥700 or so.
Kofu is a very historic city, known as the home of Takeda Shingen, one
of Japan's most powerful 16th-century warlords. And because about 30%
Japan’s carved jewelry is produced in the area, Kofu is known as
Japan's most famous jewelry city.
Kofu is also home to Hidetoshi Nakata, the world-famous soccer player
who last played in the Premier League and retired following the 2006
World Cup, and Naoko Takeuchi, creator of "Sailor Moon" and other
Mt. Kita-dake was an awesome mountain climbing trip, and it's
always so much more fun to go in a group.
This hasn't always been
me thru the years, as I don't have many friends crazy enough to enjoy
this hobby as much
as I do, plus it's often difficult to match schedules when we can get
off work at the same time.
Mt. Kita-dake may be Japan's 2nd highest mountain, but it really
doesn't have to play 2nd fiddle to Mt. Fuji. It's only a little bit
further from Tokyo, the views from the summit are just as striking, and
has only a fraction of the crowds.
By the way, if you're in the market for any outdoor gear,
including packs, tents, sleeping bags, jackets, etc., you may wish to check out my new
Great Outdoor Gear Deals page! There you will find access to some of the web's best
real-time deals on outdoor gear from a few of the best outdoor retailers in the industry.
All the retailers shown there offer free shipping, and if you decide to purchase, a portion of all proceeds directly benefit Garyjwolff.com, and help fund future site improvements. Thank you!
stop by again soon, as
I intend to update this page with more
details in the future on climbing Mt. Kita-dake.
If you have any questions for me, by all means feel free to share them
in the section below, or you can also give me a shout
by clicking on the "Contact Me" link. And if you are lucky enough to
hike up this peak, I wish you my most heartfelt good luck. GO FOR IT !!
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What Other Mt. Kita-dake Climbers Have Said
Click below to see contributions from other Mt. Kita-dake climbers...
What is the definition of "highest peak"?
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Hi Gary. I am quite similar to you in that I usually make some sort of summer pilgrimage to the Japanese Alps and I was just wondering what the definition...
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Any references to Mt. Kita-dake's elevation as 3192m are outdated and
inaccurate. In 2004, Japan's Geospatial Information Authority
(equivalent to America's USGS) revised Mt. Kita-dake's elevation 1m
to 3193m, and in July 2006, a 19-person team installed Mt. Kita-dake's
new summit triangulation marker. The full report w/ pics (in Japanese)
Mt. Kita-dake's summit sign showing its new elevation
(photo taken Aug. 12, 2011)