Hiking Japan's Central Alps
Day1: Missing the halfway point
For anyone hiking along the Central Alps from Mount Kiso-Koma, (Kiso-koma-ga-take) up to Mount Utsugi-Dake, the first thing you will need to decide is where to stay overnight! Since this hike takes about 10-12 hours to complete it’s almost impossible to do in a day. Unless of course you’re superman!
For most people, the best place to start is from the top of Senjoiki Cable Car Station. From this point you can do the 6-8 hour hike up to the peak of Kisondo Sanso where a mountain hut awaits you.
Naturally, this is what I had originally planned on doing since this option allows a shorter and more comfortable hike on the second day. Unfortunately, I arrived several hours later than expected. Consequently, this meant having to shorten the first days hike to 4 hours in order to make it in time for the last hours of daylight. This change of plan now involved staying overnight at the closer peak of Hinoki-Dake where a small emergency hut and tiny campground awaited me.
Although a fairly low-key spot, this area proved to be an excellent place for staying overnight as it strategically overlooks several valleys below and is perfectly placed to catch sunrise
Day2: From Mount Hinokio-dake to Utsugi-dake
After spending the night on top of Hinoki-dake’s barren peak, I awoke just in time to catch sunrise. As the morning sun rose higher, I could witness the spectacular sight of the mountain's narrow ridgelines and deep valleys being illuminated by the morning sun. Thankfully this sight provided the perfect start to the day.
Because I had to shorten my previous days hike to 4 hours instead of the originally intended 6 hours, today was going to be a long 6-8 hour trek to Komagane-Kogen via Mount Usugi-dake. Fortunately, the weather was exceptionally clear on this occasion enabling me to experience some amazing views for miles around.
Ending several hours later at Komagame-Kogen, I was able to reflect on the day’s journey while catching the last train back to Tokyo. Without doubt, the highlight was stopping by the craggy peak of Utsugi-dake. Standing at 2864 meters high, this mountain is the second highest in the Central Alps and offers some fantastic panoramic views where it is possible to catch a glimpse of both the Southern and Northern Alps.
Even more remarkable was the fact that I wasn’t presented with bad weather, something which I seem to be constantly cursed with whenever I want to go away somewhere.
Subscribe to our Stripes Pacific newsletter and receive amazing travel stories, great event info, cultural information, interesting lifestyle articles and more directly in your inbox!
Follow us on social media!