Japan's 2nd Highest Mountain
June 1, 2023 update:
This page was just refreshed to reflect the latest bus
for the 2023 summer climbing season. Happy trails!
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
was October 1-3, 1993 (this page), when I went with one of my fellow
teaching friends from Canada, Mr. Mike Hodges, and one of my English
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
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.
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
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. I hope you
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.
Route Map & Elevation Profile
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
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
Bus transportation from Kofu Station is
available via Yamanashi
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
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: http://yamanashikotsu.co.jp/travel/hirogawara/
[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
the two Narada (奈良田) parking areas near the Narada Onsen trailhead for
Minami Alps Mountain Huts
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.
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
So if you have a few extra hours to kill in Kofu, besides the
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
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.
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!!
Mt. Kita-dake summit 6-day weather forecast
Kita-dake topo map
(from the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan)
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!
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What Other Mt. Kita-dake Climbers Have Said
Click below to see contributions from other Mt. Kita-dake climbers...
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.
Mt. Kita-dake's summit sign showing its new elevation
(photo taken Aug. 12, 2011)
to The Highest Mountains in Japan