Mt. Yatsu-ga-take (八ヶ岳) is a group of 8 inactive volcanic peaks that is
listed among the 100 famous mountains in Japan (Nihon Hyakumeizan,
日本百名山). Of all the highest mountains in Japan that I’ve climbed through
the years, Mt. Yatsu-ga-take (八ヶ
岳)was one of my
Why? Well, for starters, among the highest mountains in Japan, besides
Mt. Fuji, it is probably the most accessible
Japan highpoint from Tokyo, as it is possible to reach the trailhead in
3 hours from Shinjuku. When I climbed this peak in August 2000, I
left Shinjuku by bus early
on a Thursday morning and was back in Tokyo by that Saturday night.
Secondly, even though you gain a respectable 1400m from the
Minodo-guchi (美濃戸口) trailhead to the summit of Aka-dake (赤岳), elevation
highest of Yatsu-ga-take’s 8 peaks, the climb is not that difficult.
And as I recall, there wasn’t even any scrambling involved. This 1400m
elevation gain is comparable to climbing Mt. Fuji from either the
Kawaguchiko Yoshida or Fujinomiya Fifth Stations.
Mt. Aka-dake (赤岳) and Mt. Amida-dake, from Mt. Gongen-dake
(Photo courtesy: Wikipedia)
Lastly, you can’t beat the view from the top. Like Mt. Fuji and Mt.
Ontake-san, Mt. Yatsu-ga-dake is independent & not part of the
famous Japan Alps. And so on a clear day, you have an unobstructed view
of not only Mt. Fuji, but the Southern, Central, and Northern Japan
Oh, I forgot. I would be seriously remiss not to mention one of the
highlights of this trip. And that is, after 21 years of hiking in the
highest mountains in Japan, this is the only time I can ever recall
staying in a mountain hut up on a hiking trail that actually had a hot
spring bath in it. Made from Japanese cypress, no less! Now
that was NICE! YEAH!!
Day 1 - August 10, 2000
My Alpico highway bus departed from the west side of Shinjuku Station
at 8:30 am and arrived at the Minodo-guchi (美濃戸口) trailhead just before
didn’t hang around the bus stop very long before hitting the trail, and
because my goal for the night was the hot spring at the Aka-dake
Kosen (赤岳鉱泉) mountain hut, I took the left trail. The trail to
the right is the most direct route up to the summit of Aka-dake (赤岳).
After about an hour, I reached Minodo (美濃戸), where there’s a group of 3
mountain huts. Here is where a trail branches off to the left, and
which crisscrosses the scenic Kitazawa (北沢) mountain stream a
times while climbing up to the elev. 2340m Aka-dake Kosen (赤岳鉱泉) hot
Kitazawa (北沢) mountain stream
Before dinner, women get an hour to soak in the hot
spring and then the men get their hour of relaxation. Of course, ladies
Japanese cypress hot spring bath
(Photo credit: Aka-dake
This page shows some other pics of Aka-dake Kosen
(赤岳鉱泉), inside & out (scroll down to see them!). The
here was very tasty!
The 6.5 km trek from the Minodo-guchi (美濃戸口) trailhead up to the
Kosen (赤岳鉱泉) mountain hut takes about 3 hours.
Day 2 - August 11, 2000
I got a bright and early start on this gorgeous day and
headed 40 min. over to the Gyoja-goya
mountain hut (行者小屋), where I took the
left-hand trail (Jizo-one, 地蔵尾根) ridge up to Jizo-no-kashira (地蔵ノ頭).
In Japanese culture, Jizō (地蔵), or Ojizō-sama, is the guardian of
and patron deity of deceased children. In particular, he has been
worshipped as the guardian of the souls of children who died before
their parents, including stillborn, miscarried, or aborted fetuses. His
statues are a common sight, especially by roadsides and in graveyards,
and oftentimes in the mountains.
Jizo (地蔵) statue @ Jizo-no-kashira (地蔵ノ頭)
Jizō (地蔵) statues are usually seen wearing tiny children's clothing or
(usually red-colored), or with toys, put there by grieving parents to
help their lost ones and hoping that Jizō (地蔵) would specially protect
Jizō's features are commonly made more babylike to resemble the
children he protects. Jizō (地蔵) statues are sometimes accompanied by a
little pile of stones and pebbles (or other miscellaneous offerings),
put there by people in the hope that
it will shorten the time children have to suffer in the underworld.
Jizo-no-kashira (地蔵ノ頭) is where you join the main trail coming over
from Yoko-dake (横岳). After hanging a right at this trail junction, it’s
a short distance over to the Aka-dake-tenboso
(赤岳天望荘, elev. 2700m)
mountain hut which also has a small hot spring.
After a short rest here, I headed up the final 200m ascent to the
Aka-dake (赤岳) summit. Just before reaching the summit, I passed the Aka-dake
Chojo-goya (赤岳頂上小屋) mountain hut, which sleeps 300. The summit of
Aka-dake is graced by a
couple of tiny shrines as well as numerous small concrete monuments. As
mentioned above, the view from the top of Aka-dake (赤岳) was truly
Mt. Aka-dake (赤岳) summit, elev. 2899m (the
highest of Mt. Yatsu-ga-take’s 8 peaks)
My hike back down into civilization was fairly uneventful, but
the gorgeous greenery along the Minamisawa (南沢) mountain stream was
mentally refreshing. And relaxing in the onsen at my pension in the
Haramura Pension Village (原村ペンションビレッジ) was a great way to soothe my
muscles. Well, I must say the 500-ml can of Asahi Super Dry beer
certainly helped improve the mood as well.
In the evening, I was hoping to catch the Perseid meteor shower, but
unfortunately clouds moved in before midnight.
Day 3 – August 12, 2000
This day was a very relaxing one, since my return bus back to Shinjuku
didn’t depart until almost 4:00 pm, arriving back in Shinjuku just
before 8:00. I spent most of this sunny day just hiking around doing a
little birdwatching, and relaxing in the very amazing nearby Yatsu-ga-take
Natural & Cultural Park (八ヶ岳自然文化園), which had a pond,
cycling course, flower gardens, and even a planetarium.
My Mt. Yatsu-ga-take (八ヶ岳) Pics
The pics below are in my Yatsu-ga-take (八ヶ岳)
album hosted at Flickr. Click the right arrow
to view the entire set sequentially in the slideshow player below. I
you enjoy them !
above to view a slideshow of my Mt. Yatsu-ga-take (八ヶ岳) pics,
Aug. 10-12, 2000, back when I still had dark hair.
(View all pics at a glance here.)
My Google Map of Mt. Yatsu-ga-take (八ヶ岳)
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.
as Japan's 33rd highest peak, Mt. Yatsu-ga-take (八ヶ岳) 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.
Mt. Yatsu-ga-take (八ヶ岳)
Climbing Distances & Times
distance from last place (km)
time from last place
To my knowldege, the Alpico bus company doesn't provide direct bus
service from Shinjuku to Minodo-guchi (美濃戸口) anymore (as it did 12 yrs.
ago when I made my trip), but some bus service to Minodo-guchi (美濃戸口)
from Shinjuku & Akihabara in
now available from the Mainichi Shinbun Travel Service. More info in
Japanese is here
and @ 03-3216-5346.
Another option is to take the Super Azusa limited
express train (JR Chuo Main Line)
from Shinjuku Station (新宿駅)
to Chino Station (茅野駅), and then catch the Alpico bus from there to the
Minodo-guchi (美濃戸口) trailhead. The bus schedule from Chino Station
Minodo-guchi (美濃戸口) is here. In 2012, this bus runs from April 28 to Nov.
The Shinjuku to
Chino westbound JR express train timetables
are here and 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 Main Line. More info
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
The fastest Super
Azusa trains from Shinjuku Station (新宿駅) to Chino Station (茅野駅) take
as little as only 2 hours.
And from Chino Station (茅野駅), it only takes about 40 min. by bus or
the Minodo-guchi (美濃戸口) trailhead.
That's right..... if your train and
schedules work out right, you can be hiking in less than 3 hours
after leaving Shinjuku. Among Japan's highest mountains, this makes Mt.
Yatsu-ga-take (八ヶ岳) without question one of the most easily accessible
And if you can get to the Minodo-guchi (美濃戸口) trailhead early enough in
the day, because it only takes around 4 hrs. to climb to the summit of
Aka-dake (赤岳), many folks do this route as a day hike.
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
My Aug. 10-12, 2000 climb of Mt. Yatsu-ga-take (八ヶ岳) was an awesome
hiking trip. From these
peaks, on a clear day the views
of Mt. Fuji & other nearby peaks in the Northern Japan Alps
(北アルプス), Southern Japan Alps (南アルプス), & Central Japan Alps (中央アルプス)
take your breath away.
The only drawback about
hiking during the busy Obon holidays in Japan, though, is you
are certain to encounter crowded conditions on the trails & in
the huts. But I guess that just comes with the
territory, because like Golden Week and the New Year's holidays, during
Obon most Japanese tend to all vacation at the same time, making the
trains, planes, and highways pure mayhem.
On the bright side, I seem to
have noticed a trend in recent years for Japanese companies to start
staggering their vacation times a bit, but even in 2012, 25-30 km long
traffic jams were typical on the expressways during the Obon holidays.
I hope you found this page informative & do please stop by
again soon, as
I hope to update it in the future with more details on climbing Mt.
In the meantime, if you have any quick questions, 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.
if you've already climbed Mt. Yatsu-ga-take (八ヶ岳) & you'd
pay it forward & share your climbing story & pics with
climbers, we'd love to hear of your personal experience.
can share your story here.
If you're lucky enough to
hike up any of the 8 Mt. Yatsu-ga-take (八ヶ岳) peaks, I wish you my most
luck. GO FOR IT !!
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