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Home: Highest Mountains in Japan: Mt. Yakushi-dake (薬師岳)

Mt. Yakushi-dake (薬師岳)
elev. 2926m
Japan's 27th Highest Mountain

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

This mountain just about killed me, but Mt. Yakushi-dake (薬師岳) had without question some of the most striking vistas and panoramas I've ever seen while climbing the Japan Alps.

My big mistake on the first day of hiking was trying to make it from the Murodo (室堂) Terminal trailhead all the way to the Sugo-norikoshi-goya (スゴ乗越小屋) mountain hut in one day.

Although the Lonely Planet's Hiking in Japan book estimates the hiking time from the Goshiki-ga-hara-sanso (五色ヶ原山荘) mountain hut to the Sugo-norikoshi-goya (スゴ乗越小屋) mountain hut as 4 hours, it took me nearly 7.

Murodo Terminal trailhead
Murodo (室堂) Terminal trailhead

As a result, I didn't arrive at the hut till around 8 pm, and because I had made advance reservations, they sent out a search party for me. Not good. Arriving late at the huts is a big breach of Japanese mountain climbing etiquette, as dinner is usually served around 5 or 6 and lights out are usually by 8. When I arrived, most people were already in their futons and lights were out, but the cordial hut staff served me dinner anyways.

Roller Coaster Climbing Route

That section of the Mt. Yakushi-dake (薬師岳) trail is one of the most up-and-down & primitive I've ever encountered in Japan, and can really take a toll on your body. From Goshiki-ga-hara-sanso (五色ヶ原山荘) you go up about 100m, down 250m, up 250m, down 300m, up 100m, down 250m, and finally up another 150m to the Sugo-norikoshi-goya (スゴ乗越小屋) mountain hut. Wow.

And if that weren't enough, some of the sections are virtually vertical, requiring ascents/descents of 10-15 meters with the aid of built-in ropes and chains. As they say, "A picture's worth a thousand words," so the elevation profile on the Yamareco route map below should give you a better idea of what you're up against.

My favorite passage from the Lonely Planet's description of this trail section is "So just relax and enjoy the scenery and the morning." Makes me wonder if the writer actually hiked this course.  smiley 

View of Mt. Yakushi-dake
View of Mt. Yakushi-dake (薬師岳)

This trail is not very busy, and so if you have an accident you might be in deep doo-doo, as it could be ages before you get rescued, if anyone comes at all. 

My advice for future trekkers starting from the Murodo (室堂) trailhead & who aren't camping, is to stay overnight at the Goshiki-ga-hara-sanso (五色ヶ原山荘), where they actually have a hot bath, an extreme rarity at mountain huts in Japan.

Interestingly, I had no trouble on Days 2 & 3. In fact, on Day 3 I left the Tarodaira-goya (太郎平小屋) mountain hut (where I stayed the 2nd night) before 5:30 am and was back in Tokyo by 2:30 pm via bus, local train, and shinkansen (bullet train). I finished my hiking at the Oritate (折立) bus stop.

My Mt. Yakushi-dake (薬師岳) Pics

I hope you enjoy my pics linked below, hosted at Flickr! It's some pretty stunning scenery, I'm sure you'll agree, and helps explain why I've lived in Japan such a loooooong time. smiley     

Click here to view all of my pics of Mt. Yakushi-dake (薬師岳), elev. 2926 m, Japan's 27th highest peak, taken Aug. 9-11, 2008.   

My Google Map of Mt. Yakushi-dake (薬師岳)

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.

Although as Japan's 27th highest peak, Mt. Yakushi-dake (薬師岳) 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.

(zoom out to see all 25 highest mountains)

View 25 Highest Mountains in Japan in a larger map

Route Map of Mt. Yakushi-dake (薬師岳)

(Please note: the above route map and elevation profile differ slightly from my own route, as they include an ascent of Mt. Tateyama (立山).


If you wish to access Mt. Yakushi-dake from Murodo, the Alpico bus company no longer provides the Shinjuku to Murodo bus service, but you can take their highway bus from Shinjuku to Ogizawa (¥4850 1-way, ¥8700 round trip---it's more expensive for the all-night bus)  (, and then catch a couple of tunnel trolley buses, a cable car, and a ropeway along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route over to Murodo (¥5860 1-way, ¥9050 round trip) (

Keeping track of these constantly evolving transport services from year to year is quite challenging, and it's quite possible there may be easier & cheaper ways to access this peak, and if so, please feel free to educate me & I'll update this page for the benefit of future site visitors. smiley


Please stop by again soon, as I hope to add more details on this Mt. Yakushi-dake (薬師岳) climbing trip, including hiking times and expenses. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to use the section below. Or if you prefer
sending me a private message, just click on "Contact Me." Cheers!

Additional links:
Mt. Yakushi-dake summit 6-day weather forecast
Mt. Yakushi-dake topo map
(from the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan)
Mt. Tateyama/Mt. Tsurugi-dake route map (includes Mt. Yakushi-dake) (2023 1:50,000 hiking map, part of the Yama-to-kogen Chizu series published by Shobunsha, available in bookstores and from Amazon Japan)

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

Do you have a question or story about climbing Mt. Yakushi-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. Yakushi-dake Climbers Have Said

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

How to book Mt. Yakushi-dake mountain huts? 
hello, we will do the Tateyama - Kinosaki walk trail in september 2016, but I cannot find the email adrdess and website address of the huts (Goshigahara …

Splitting the Goshiki-ga-hara-sansō to ​Yakushi-dake-sansō route into 2 legs? 
Gary, hello and thanks for the opportunity to ask a question (or two). We are two 60-something Aussies (with solid long distance trekking at altitude …

Your preference between Yakushi-dake & Yari-ga-take? Not rated yet
Hi Gary, I really like your blogs about your hikes. Can I pick your brains? I'm tempted by either this walk - Yakushi-dake - or Mount Yari. Have you …

Hiking time from Goshiki-ga-hara-sanso to Sugo-norikoshi-goya Not rated yet
Hi Gary, I really appreciate the info you posted on your mountain blog. I just got back from the Tateyama to Kamikochi trek and knowing that it would take …

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