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Home: Highest Mountains in Japan: Mt. Warusawa-dake (悪沢岳) and Mt. Akaishi-dake (赤石岳)

Mt. Warusawa-dake (悪沢岳) and
Mt. Akaishi-dake (赤石岳)
Japan's 6th & 7th Highest Mountains

Mt. Warusawa-dake (悪沢岳), elev. 3141m, and Mt. Akaishi-dake (赤石岳), elev. 3120m, are two peaks on my list of the 25 highest mountains in Japan which are close enough to be climbed on the same trip, or what I referred to as "couplet mountains" on my Mt. Suisho-dake/Mt. Washiba-dake page.

I had the pleasure of climbing these two peaks in the Southern Japan Alps (南アルプス), which are Japan’s 6th & 7th highest mountains, over a 3-day weekend in August 1995. Both Mt. Warusawa-dake (悪沢岳) and Mt. Akaishi-dake (赤石岳) are one of the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains (日本百名山, Nihon Hyaku-meizan).

A Night in a Coffin

One of my most memorable experiences on this mountain climbing trip was to sleep Friday night, August 11, 1995 in a coffin-sized room at a capsule hotel, my first and only such experience in over 20 years of living in Japan. I must admit it was a very interesting & pleasant overnight stay.

They had a HUGE public bath and the staff were very cordial and patient with my very poor Japanese skills (see pic of my coffin below). My cozy coffin even came equipped with a TV, reading lamp, radio, nightstand, and an alarm clock.

Shizuoka City capsule hotel
My Shizuoka City capsule hotel room

The best thing is that it was close enough to JR Shizuoka Station (静岡駅) that it was very convenient for me to catch my early morning bus from there on Saturday morning into the Southern Japan Alps (南アルプス).

2-Phase Bus Transport

On Saturday, August 12, 1995 I caught the first bus from JR Shizuoka Station (静岡駅) headed for Hatanagi Daiichi Dam (畑薙第一ダム) around 6 AM, as I recall. This bus ride takes around 3.5 hours. From the dam you catch a smaller minibus that will take you to the Sawara-jima (椹島) trailhead in about an hour's time.

By the time I finished these two bus rides and completed my backcountry registration form, it was already late morning before I hit the trail from my starting point, Sawara-jima (椹島).

With Sawara-jima (椹島) as both the starting and ending points, you can tackle Mt. Warusawa-dake (悪沢岳) and Mt. Akaishi-dake (赤石岳) in a loop route. I chose to climb Mt. Akaishi-Dake (赤石岳) first, hiking the loop in a clockwise direction (please see Yamareco route map below, which follows the same course I took exactly).

Very Steep & Arduous Ascent

From Sawara-jima (椹島), elev. 1100m, up to the Akaishi-goya mountain hut (赤石小屋) where I stayed my first night, you'll get a fairly good workout, gaining around 1400m in only 4.5 km. Wow. (You'll see me celebrating this achievement with a cold beer in front of the Akaishi-goya (赤石小屋) in one of the pics in the Flickr album below.)  smiley face

My 17-year-old Yama-to-kogen (山と高原地図) 1:40,000 hiking map for this area shows the hiking time from Sawara-jima (椹島) up to Akaishi-goya (赤石小屋) to be 5 hrs., which I guess is still fairly accurate for one in reasonably good shape. In fact, it’s an over 2000m elevation gain from Sawara-jima (椹島) to the summits of both Mt. Warusawa-dake (悪沢岳) & Mt. Akaishi-dake (赤石岳).

This is noteworthy in that to my best recollection, this 2000m figure is the largest trailhead–to–summit elevation gain that I've ever encountered during the past two decades in scaling any of the 25 highest mountains in Japan. I may of course wind up having to eat my words later, but I'm going to let this rather bold statement stand for the time being.  smiley face

The next day (Sunday, August 13, 1995) was also a fairly rigorous day of hiking when I managed to scale Mt. Akaishi-dake (赤石岳, elev. 3120m, Japan's 7th highest peak) and the three peaks of Mt. Arakawa-dake (荒川岳), also known as the Arakawasanzan (荒川三 山).

The Arakawasanzan (荒川三 山) include Mt. Mae-dake (前岳); Mt. Naka-dake (中岳, elev. 3083m, Japan's 13th highest peak and also known as Mt. Arakawa-naka-dake, 荒川中岳); and one of my main targets for this trip, Mt. Warusawa-dake (悪沢岳), also known as Higashi-dake (東岳), elev. 3141m, the 6th highest mountain in Japan.

Atop summit of Mt. Warusawa-dake
Atop summit of Mt. Warusawa-dake (悪沢岳),
elev. 3141m, the 6th highest mountain in Japan 

Sleeping Double in a Single Bed

I also climbed Mt. Senmai-dake (千枚岳) that day before stopping at the Senmai-goya mountain hut (千枚小屋) where I spent the night. Well…… MOST of the night. This trip was during the Obon holidays, when most Japanese are given time off from work (usually 3 days in mid-August) to return to their hometowns to honor the departed spirits of their ancestors. Thus, it is a very popular season in Japan for outdoor activities, including mountain climbing.

sleeping spaces inside Senmai-goya mountain hut
Sleeping spaces inside Senmai-goya mountain hut (千枚小屋)
(we had to sleep TWO people per space)

As a result, it was SO crowded at the Senmai-goya mountain hut (千枚小屋), that they were sleeping TWO people per usual sleeping space, in an alternating head–foot/foot–head arrangement. Just my luck that my sleeping "partner" was an older man who liked to toss and turn in his sleep. Consequently, by 3:30 AM I had had more than enough of being kicked in the head by his feet, so I got up quietly and in the darkness of the hut, packed up my stuff and headed out.

The Pitch-black Haunted Forest

Since it was still nighttime when I started hiking, I had to use a flashlight to see the trail as I descended through a very thick forest. This turned out to be a bit of an unnerving experience, in view of not only the pitch-black darkness of the forest, but the uncomfortable silence (there was no wind or rustling leaves), broken only by the occasional unfamiliar animal-like sounds coming from behind me.

Let me be clear…..I don’t believe in ghosts, but I'll just come right out and say it was downright "spooky." In retrospect, I guess that really wasn’t such a smart thing to do, especially being by myself, but on the bright side, I was able to get back down to the Sawara-jima (椹島) trailhead in time to catch the first morning bus out @ 6:30 am.  smiley face

My Hitching Buddies

Another interesting turn in my exciting journey was that when I got back to Hatanagi Daiichi Dam (畑薙第一ダム), as I recall, there was going to be at least a 2-hr. wait for the next bus to JR Shizuoka Station (静岡駅), so I hitched a ride with a nice Japanese guy who drove me and a couple of other hikers back to the station. Very friendly fellas; in fact, we all enjoyed a nice soba lunch together near the station before parting ways.

soba lunch with my hitching buddies
Soba lunch with my hitching buddies

My Mt. Warusawa-dake (悪沢岳) and
Mt. Akaishi-dake (赤石岳) Pics

The thumbnail images below are a sampling of my pics hosted by Flickr. Clicking the collage opens up my Mt. Warusawa-dake (悪沢岳) and Mt. Akaishi-dake (赤石岳) photo page at Flickr. I hope they give you a sense of the exciting, "back-to-nature" experience of what it was like to actually be there. Enjoy !

Mt. Warusawa-dake and Mt. Akaishi-dake photo collage
Mt. Warusawa-dake (悪沢岳) &
Mt. Akaishi-dake (赤石岳) pics, taken Aug. 12-14, 1995.
(View all pics at a glance here.)

My Google Map of Mt. Warusawa-dake (悪沢岳) and Mt. Akaishi-dake (赤石岳)

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. Warusawa-dake (悪沢岳) & Mt. Akaishi-dake (赤石岳)

Note: The route above follows my course exactly,
in the clockwise direction. (Source:


JR Shizuoka Station (静岡駅) to Hatanagi Daiichi Dam (畑薙第一ダム): Shizutetsu Justline Co. (Japanese)
  • In 2011, from 7/16 to 8/31, there were 2 buses per day departing JR Shizuoka Station @ 9:50 & 13:15, and 3 buses per day departing Hatanagi Daiichi Dam @ 14:25, 15:30, & 17:50.
  • Cost - ¥3000
  • Travel time: 3 hrs. 25 min.

Hatanagi Daiichi Dam (畑薙第一ダム) to Sawara-jima (椹島): Tokai Forest Co. (Japanese)
  • From 7/16 to 8/31, 5 minibuses per day in each direction, and 3 minibuses per day at other times between 4/28 and the end of the season in the fall
  • Cost - free for people staying in the mountain huts (& purchasing dinner plus breakfast), also owned & run by the Tokai Forest Co. (and in theory, you are not allowed to take these courtesy minibuses if you are NOT staying in the huts)
  • Travel time: 1 hr.
Note: I've found Google Translate to be a good resource for translating Japanese webpages into English (and vice versa).

Please stop by again soon

In summary, climbing Mt. Warusawa-dake (悪沢岳) and Mt. Akaishi-dake (赤石岳) was a rigorous, yet truly rewarding hiking trip.

To my knowledge, the over 2000m net elevation gain from trailhead to summit on this trip is the largest I've ever encountered while scaling any of the 25 highest mountains in Japan. To be exact, it's a 2041m vertical gain (6696 ft., or 1.27 vertical miles) from Sawara-jima (椹島) to the summit of Mt. Warusawa-dake (悪沢岳). Ouch !

Please stop by again soon, as I hope in the future to update this page on climbing Mt. Warusawa-dake (悪沢岳) and Mt. Akaishi-dake (赤石岳) with more details as they become available.

Aerial view of Southern Japan Alps
Aerial view of Southern Japan Alps (南アルプス)
(click image to view full-sized pic)
(photo courtesy: Wikipedia)

In the meantime, I hope you have a few extra minutes to check out my pages on the other highest mountains in Japan, as well as the rest of my website.

Thanks so much for visiting, and if you have any questions for me, by all means please give me a shout by clicking on the "Contact Me" link. I would also love to hear your personal story if you've already climbed some of these peaks. But if they're still on your list, I wish you my most heartfelt good luck. GO FOR IT !!  smiley

Additional links:
Mt. Warusawa-dake summit 6-day weather forecast
Mt. Akaishi-dake summit 6-day weather forecast
Mt. Warusawa-dake topo map (from the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan)
Mt. Akaishi-dake topo map (from the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan)
Mt. Warusawa-dake and Mt. Akaishi-dake route map (2023 1:50,000 hiking map part of the Yama-to-kogen Chizu series published by Shobunsha)

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