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Mt. Kita-dake (北岳)
elev. 3193m
Japan's 2nd Highest Mountain


Got a question or story about climbing Mt. Kita-dake?



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 students, Takahashi-san.

The 2nd time was when I climbed Mt. Ai-no-dake (間ノ岳) and Mt. Shiomi-dake (塩見岳) in Sept. 1996 & the 3rd time was when I climbed Mt. Notori-dake (農鳥岳) and the Shiranesanzan (白根三山) in Aug. 2011.

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.


Mt. Kita-dake summit
Atop Mt. Kita-dake (北岳)
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 background. Awesome!


Atop Mt. Kita-dake, Japan's 2nd highest mountain
   Atop 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 breakfast.

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 the Okabasawa (大樺沢) mountain stream, and we were blessed with yet another gorgeous day.

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 view them sequentially in the slideshow player below. I hope you enjoy them !

Kita-dake photo collage



  Click above to view a slideshow of my Mt. Kita-dake pics, taken Oct. 2-3, 1993.
    (If the player is not visible, you can 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 your PC.

Using GE's tilt & rotate features, you can actually fly around Mt. Kita-dake as if you were in an airplane:

(zoom out to see all 25 highest mountains)

View 25 Highest Mountains in Japan in a larger map


Route Map & Elevation Profile
of Mt. Kita-dake (北岳)



Source: Yamareco.com


Access


One of the best ways to get to JR Kofu Station (甲府駅) is to take the Super Azusa limited express train from Shinjuku Station (新宿駅), which only takes about 1.5-2 hours. The westbound JR express train Shinjuku to Kofu timetables 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 holidays.

Normally, from JR Kofu Station it takes about two hours by bus or taxi to reach the Hirogawara (広河原) trailhead, but due to a rock slide in early July 2014, as of July 19, bus service to Hirogawara is being re-routed thru Narada (奈良田).

Bus transportation from Kofu Station is available via Yamanashi Kotsu (Tel: 0552-23-0821) (Japanese), which provides varying levels of service to Hirogawara between June and November, and the 2014 bus schedules (in Japanese) are here.

Private cars are restricted on the road to Hirogawara during the summer, but 650 free spaces are available at the Ashiyasu municipal parking area (市営芦安駐車場) along the route from Kofu Station, and 100 free spaces are available at the Narada (奈良田) parking area near the Narada onsen trailhead for Mt. Notori-dake.

Historic Kofu


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% of 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 comics.

So if you have a few extra hours to kill in Kofu, besides the abundant hot springs, there are a number of fun things to see and do there, including the Shosen Gorge, Takeda-jinja Shrine (dedicated to the famous warlord), and the Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Art.

And if you're considering staying overnight in Kofu, be sure to check out the latest deals on Kofu hotels, bed and breakfasts, and inns, some with hot springs and some priced as low as ¥3000.


Please stop by again soon



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 possible for 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!


Please 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 !!  smiley


Additional links:
Mt. Kita-dake summit 6-day weather forecast

Mt. Kita-dake topo map
(from the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan)

Thief in the Fortress - a very gripping tale of a winter climb of Mt. Kita-dake


Have a Question or Story about Climbing the Mt. Kita-dake?

Do you have a question or story about climbing Mt. Kita-dake? Be among the first to pay it forward and share your climbing experience (along with up to 4 pics) with other visitors to this page still planning their climb!

Unlike social media sites like Facebook & Twitter where your post quickly gets pushed down off the page, your story will be given a dedicated webpage and its own URL, giving others a chance to comment (you can see similar stories submitted so far on Climbing Mt. Fuji). And feel free to link your story back to your webpage, blog, or any other page of your choosing.

Enter your question or the title of your story

What Other Mt. Kita-dake Climbers Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other Mt. Kita-dake climbers...

Kita-dake day-trip from Kofu possible? 
Relying entirely on public transport, is it possible to climb Kita-dake as a day trip from Kofu? You mentioned in one of the comments a 4:20am bus from …

Is the Kita-dake hike a tough climb? 
hi, I am interested in kita-dake hike, but I don't know how tough the climbing is. I mean is there very tough climbing with ropes and chains or is it …

Should I wait around Kofu Station at a bench or get a room in a nearby hotel? 
Hello Gary, I read your homepage from time to time and it's awesome. I wanted to consult you in reference to the following: It seems to me that you …

A suitable 2 or 3 day hike as a warm up to Mt. Fuji? 
Hi Gary, I am booked to climb mount fuji on 29th August, with a tour because I wanted the transport and hut sorted. Can you suggest a suitable 2 or …

Do we have to book mountain huts in advance or can we simply turn up? 
Dear Gary, I am planning to climb with my husband Mt. Fuji this summer and walk the 5-day traverse from Kita-dake to Hijiri-dake. I have two questions: …

What type of gear would be required to summit Mt. Kita-dake in February? Not rated yet
Hi, I will be in japan this february and would like to summit Mt. Kita-dake, but information on the internet seems to be pretty sparse. I know there will …

Best trail for winter ascent of kita-dake? Not rated yet
I am having a hard time finding maps/trails for Mt. Kita-dake. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Bryan *** Bryan, I'm not big …

Cell phone reception on the climb to Kita-dake? Not rated yet
Hello, thanks for sharing all the info on the trail! I have a question on whether there is cell phone reception on the trail or at the huts in this area …

The height of Kita-dake was upgraded a few years back to 3,193 meters  Not rated yet
Hi Gary. Just taking a quick peek here before running off to the station. A couple of notes: Kitadake was upgraded a few years back to 3,193 meters and …

What is the definition of "highest peak"? Not rated yet
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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Postscript sidebar: 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 higher 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) is here.

Mt. Kita-dake summit sign
Mt. Kita-dake's summit sign showing its new elevation
(photo taken Aug. 12, 2011)


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Gary J. Wolff


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