The Yatsugatake Mountains offers a wide range of hikes from intermediate to advanced level. The highest peak, Akadake, standing at 2899 m tall, is one of Japan’s hyakumeizan (100 famous Japanese mountains, according to mountaineer Kyūya Fukada). There are eight peaks in total.
Warning: Akadake is a challenging mountain to attempt during the snowy fall and winter seasons and should only be attempted by experts. During the summer season, still be careful for wet conditions and make sure you’re fully prepared!
Hiking Yatsugatake: Mt. Akadake, Mt. Yokodake and Mt. Ioudake
Akadake, Yokodake and Ioudake are three neighboring and well-trodden peaks all offer spectacular views of as far as Mt. Tsukuba in Kanto to the east (likely only visible in the crystal clear winter air), Mt. Fuji towering through the clouds to the south, and the full range of the Japanese Alps to the west.
There are multiple mountain huts for accommodation, one Akadake-kosen even has an onsen for that rare warm mountain bathing expereince.
We’ve covered a two-day route for hiking Akadake using public transport from Tokyo in our Alternatives to Climbing Mount Fuji article.
Our friend David from Ridgeline Images has a great three-day route covering all three peaks.
Day trip details
For a day trip during the warmer months, you stay at one of the pension hotels (i.e. lodging with little to no amenities) near a trailhead and get an early start to reach the summit and get back in one day.
Yokodake via Somazoe ridge
Altitude change: 1,100 m
Time: 3.5 hours up, 3 hours down + time on the ridge
Skill level: Easy
Fitness level: Intermediate
If you have use of a car and are coming from Tokyo, the best option is to visit on a weekday and approach Yokodake via the Somazoe ridge, which with a total alititude change of about 1,100 m is the shortest route up to the main ridge.
It’s best if you can leave in the middle of the night and time your arrival for dawn at the Uminokuchishizengo Tozanshayo Parking Lot. Parking is limited to about 12 spaces, and it’s the only place to legally park anywhere near the trailhead.
Just opposite the parking spot is the trailhead. The first 30 minutes or so is a relatively leisurely stroll through forest. Then the trail starts getting steeper and you have about three hours of moderate hiking. The path is fairly easy to follow, but keep an eye out for the colored tape attached to trees marking the correct path through the forest.
If you started at dawn, then you will have some spectacular misty views as you move higher and higher up the mountainside. It’s really quite something seeing Mt. Fuji in the distance poking through the clouds.
The last section is a steep push up to the Yokodake summit, but you’ll soon be rewarded by a panoramic views in all directions. Once you’ve reached Yokodake summit, depending on your enthusiasm, you can optionally continue south over to Akadake (about 1 hour 20 mins), or walk north along the ridgeline, in the direction of Ioudake (about 1 hour).
The returned hike back down should be about 3 hours, but make sure you leave plenty of time to get back down before darkness descends.
Other starting points
There are various points at which you can approach the Yatsugatake range via car or public transport. If you’d like an easy start, taking the Kita-Yatsugatake ropeway starts you at about 2,300 m. You can also take a bus to Mugikusa pass at 2,120 m.
For the full range of routes, we recommend the freemium Yamap app.
It’s also a good idea to have the good old paper map: Yatsugatake hiking map