Japanese mountain experience: climbing Kashima-Yarigatake

We started the hike at a trail-head located close to the departure point of the Kanden Tunnel Trolleybus. The climbing up the ridge is fairly easy and steady: there is no need for chains of ladders along the way. This trail eventually leeds you to the ridge linking mount Narusawa to mount Iwagoyazawadake :

Then we headed east over the Jiigatake and then North towards the Yarikatake. Until we reached the hut south of the Kashima-Yarigatake. We spent the night there and of course I took the time to take some panoramic shots:

Here’s a particularly awesome sunset shot taken from the hut:

After a well deserved rest, we woke up early the next morning (5AM) to start our ascent of the Kashima-Yarigatake. A short walk north brought us to the tent site where many climbers spend the night.

Unfortunately, bad weather set in as we were ascending the Kashima yarigatake so we did not get to enjoy the impressive view of the Tateyama mountain. Nevertheless, my first experience in a Mountain hut was very enjoyable. This is the website for information on the huts, but I haven’t found info in English.

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Country: Japan
Area : Chubu area
Prefecture : Nagano-ken
City : Ōmachi-shi
District : Taira
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Gaijin San

Since my better half is Japanese I often have the chance to travel to Japan. I grew fond over time of this magnificent country. I thought of sharing with you some places worth visiting in this little but growing travel guide to Japan. I try to show with images what I can’t express with words. I hope you may find here some inspiration!

For those who wonder, I chose the moniker Gaijin-San after being called like this by a waitress at a grilled eel restaurant. “Gaijin” means foreigner and “San” is a honorific suffix in Japanese.

7 thoughts on “Japanese mountain experience: climbing Kashima-Yarigatake”

  1. Hi there!

    Thank for this article and the beautiful pictures!

    I did the exact same trail about 10 years ago, brings back great memories (and some not so great ones, the trip had its troubles…)

    Greetings from Holland,
    Martin

    1. Hi Martin,
      Its nice to hear from you and I’m glad this post is bringing nice memories for you. I also have some daunting memories from the trip. I was hiking with my wife’s dad and asked him to go down by the “short route” since I had gotten blisters on my feet. Lets say that the shortcut was steeper and had more ladders than I had expected. It didn’t help control my vertigo! I was so scared… I’d be curious to hear which challenges you encountered!
      Regards,
      Patrick

  2. Well Patrick, it’s quite the story so I hope you have a minute…

    Like you, I was also with my father-in-law, plus one of the neighbors. Since they live in Fukushima prefecture, we had driven there on Saturday and spent the night in the village of Omachi.

    We left early for the trail on the eastern side, from Kashima over Maruyama. Unfortunately, because of rock falls the trail was closed and we had to double back to the beginning of the Kanden trail you describe here.
    By the time we got there it was past 9 am, but we still wanted to do the whole thing that day. Oto-san even got out the headlamps. I asked him what for, and he said that it might be dark before we’d be back. I protested, I can’t risk my job by tumbling off a mountain in the dark and breaking my leg! I said we should shorten the trip, he just mumbled something (he’s a bit of a character)

    Anyway, we made decent progress, and around one o’clock we were on the top…or so we thought. Then we found out that it was Jigatake, and Yarigatake was the big one north of us! I agreed to go to on the hut inbetween, but insisted we go back from there.
    We got there around two, but after a break the stubborn bastard wanted to go on! More arguments as you can imagine, but he just went so I had to go along. He wouldn’t even let me carry his backpack (he was in his late 50’s at the time, and not as fast as he used to be).

    Finally reached the summit around 16:30. To be honest, it was a great walk, beautiful day and lovely scenery. Reminded me of the Austrian Alps in Tirol.
    By the time we came back to the hut it was getting dark (it was the middle of September). Otoo-san was pretty much spent by that time (not surprising after 2000 vertical meters up and 1000 down), and I urged to spent the night in the hut. But no, he said he had to go to work the next morning! (He has his own company).

    So we went on. Luckily there was a horizontal path along Jigatake’s north slope instead going up and down the whole thing again. The last descent into the valley was pretty long, though, and I went on ahead. Maybe shouldn’t have done that, but I was frustrated by this point, and he was so slow that I couldn’t walk my own pace, which is annoying on a descent. Unfortunately, the neighbor came along with me (she’s a lot younger than him), so the old man was left to walk down in the dark by himself.

    And the craziest thing of all: after he finally reached the car after 10 PM, he drove us halfway across Japan*, got home around 3 AM, and went to work 4 hours later!

    As you can imagine, that was our last walking trip together. I did go by myself during a later trip, walking around Nikko and climbing Bandai-San in Fukushima. (Both of those I can really recommend, btw).
    Anyway, it’s nice to see other people with the same hobby. I don’t fly to Japan often**, but maybe one day we can do a trip together!

    Cheers,
    Martin

    *thank god there was nobody on the road, I’m pretty sure he must have dozed off a few times while driving…

    **usually my wife goes alone or with one of the kids to hang out with her mother, their town is pretty unremarkable and not very interesting for foreigners

    1. Hi Martin,

      Thanks for sharing your story! You have a pretty stubborn Otousan! I’m glad that every one of you came back safe and sound. I count myself lucky that my “papa” is more moderate in his mountain ambitions. We paced ourselves and enjoyed a relaxing time at the hut and even drank a few beers. I also had a very pleasant time climbing Fujisan with him although I came back seriously sun-burnt! He usually hikes with “mama” but gets quite excited about climbing mountains with me when I fly to Japan!

  3. Hello guy, thank you for your article…
    we project to back in Hakuba during this winter and maybe, woiuld like to climb on the summit with mountainering ski but would like to know first if it’s possible in your thinking and from where the best way to start our ascent ?
    thanlk’s a lot

    1. Hi Herve,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately I am not that knowledgeable about mountaineering in Japan. The mountain I climbed is Kashima-Yarigatake which is a different mountain from mount Yarigatake close to the Hakuba ski resort. I heard that the Yarigatake is one of the toughest to climb in the region. If you want to ski-mountaineer it maybe it is a good idea to take the cable car up from Hakuba and make your way from there, but I am not knowledgeable about the regulations of the ski resort. Sorry I can’t help you more!

      1. Ohhhhhh, sorry then for disturb you
        i confused because for us, european, name are very similar sometimes (ahaah)
        thank’s for your reply by all the way !

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