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

June 1, 2023 update: This page was just refreshed to reflect the latest bus schedules for the 2023 summer climbing season. Happy trails!

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 and 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 and 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 and 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. I hope you enjoy them!

Kita-dake photo collage

You can view here all of my pics of Mt. Kita-dake, taken Oct. 2-3, 1993.

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.

(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)



One of the best ways to get to JR Kofu Station (甲府駅) is to take an Azusa or Kaiji limited express train from Shinjuku Station (新宿駅), which only takes about 1.5-2 hours. More details on these trains 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.

Bus transportation from Kofu Station is available via Yamanashi Kotsu (Tel: (055) 223-0821) (Japanese), which will provide varying levels of service to Hirogawara between June 23 and November 5, 2023 (depending on the month and day of week) for ¥1990 and the bus schedules (in Japanese) are here:
[Yamanashi Kotsu removes their bus schedules during the off-season, so I will post a link to their 2024 schedules here next June.]

Again in 2023 it is also possible to catch a direct all-night bus from the Shinjuku Station West Exit to Hirogawara every Friday night from June 23 to Oct. 27 plus every Tues. night in July and August (7/4-8/29). The 22:00 pm to 6:13 am bus trip will set you back ¥8800 (no direct service is available back to Shinjuku). More details (in Japanese) are here:
[bus schedule links removed during the off-season]

Private cars are restricted on the road to Hirogawara, but 121 parking spaces are available near JR Kofu Station South Exit (JR甲府駅南口) (max. ¥900/weekdays), 172 spaces are available near Ryuo (竜王) Station South Exit (max. ¥900/weekdays), and 147 spaces are available at the two Narada (奈良田) parking areas near the Narada Onsen trailhead for Mt. Notori-dake. 

Minami Alps Mountain Huts
Reservation System

For the 3rd year, it is now possible to reserve Minami Alps mountain huts in advance online. More details (in Japanese) are about 1/4 down this page:

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 Shosenkyo Gorge, Takeda-jinja Shrine (dedicated to the famous warlord), and the Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Art.

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.

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)
Mt. Kita-dake route map (2023 1:50,000 hiking map part of the Yama-to-kogen Chizu series published by Shobunsha)
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.

What Other Mt. Kita-dake Climbers Have Said

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

Are there English maps for Mt. Kita-dake at Hirogawara or online? 
From what I see online, all the signs on the trail are in Japanese. Are there English maps at Hirogawara or online? Also, is it easy to get lost on …

From Kita-dake-sanso, is it possible to hike down to Narada Carpark before the last 3:30pm bus? 
Hi Gary, Thanks so much for your detailed information on the Japanese Alps. This weekend I am climbing Kita-dake. On Saturday I am staying at Hirogawara …

Is it possible to ascend and descend Mt. Kita-dake in the same day? 
Dear Gary, Thank you very much for your blog and your book on the Japanese Alps. I want to do the trip to Mount Kita-Dake with my friends in August. …

Where to start the Mt. Kita-dake hike? 
Hi there, in regards to starting the Mt. Kita-dake hike say around 10:00 hrs, would it be best to start where you finished and walk up towards the hut …

Are there coin lockers at Kofu Station for storing our suitcases? 
Hello, I will go in Nagoya next week. My plane land on saturday 8th of sepetmber. ANd I take off from Tokyo on the 18th of september. However, …

Hiking Japanese mountains in the winter 
Gary, I have never been to Japan, I would like to come over this year (2018.) I am experience hiker and mountain climber. Would like to hike, not climb. …

What hiking gears are needed for a summer hike up Kita-dake? 
I will be climbing Kita-dake this July, right in time for summer and I'm pretty sure there will be no snow...or so I think. Do I need to bring special …

Are sleeping bags or bedding supplied in the Mt. Kita-dake huts? 
Hi Gary, Would you be able to tell me please if sleeping bags or bedding is supplied in the huts? Thanks!

How far is it from Mt. Kita-dake to Mt. Ai-no-dake? 
Hi Gary, Thanks for all of the information on your climbing pages. We are planning a Kita-dake climb for this July and realized that it may be sensible …

Is mid-May too early to climb Mt. Kita-dake? 
Hi, ​​I read your article about Mount Kita-dake, thanks for writing it! I'm having great difficulty finding out a few things about Kita-dake: - …

Will the bus still be running from Kofu on Oct. 23-25? 
So I am planning on trying to climb Kitadake and Ainodake Oct. 23-25. Will the bus still be running from Kofu at these dates or is the bus already done? …

To Kita-dake and back in under 6 hours: barely possible 
Yesterday I tried to do a one-day hike of Kita-dake. I wasn't very optimistic, but had the bus not been significantly late (and the weather cooler so I …

Your advice on my goal to visit Mt. Kita-dake during 8-13 Aug. 2015? 
Hi Gary, I following your report via this website. I never been in Japan. I plan to visit there​​ during 8-13 Aug 2015. The goal to visit Kitadake …

Safe to climb Mt. Kita-dake in early April? 
Hi Gary, Is it possible (and safe enough) to climb Mt. Kita-dake in early April (first week)? Will I be needing crampons and ice axe? I will be climbing …

Climbing Mt. Kita-dake in early November 
We are interested in climbing Kita-dake or possibly doing traverse of the Southern Alps starting Nov. 2 or 3. Will there be transportation available to …

Anywhere to park in Kitazawa-toge or Hirogawara? 
Hi Gary. Thanks for all the information on this site. My friend and I are looking to do this hike mid September. We were hoping that we could drop …

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 Dec. 28, 2012 *** …

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 …

Click here to write your own.

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 …

Click here to write your own.

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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.

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

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