TREKKING

Although its highest peak is just shy of 3,000m, the relatively short distance between trailhead and top in the Yatsugatake makes experiencing a satisfying trekking trip in a limited amount of time possible. The Yatsugatake Mountain Range, with its many trails, can be enjoyed by people of every level and age, but trekking should never be seen lightly. Entering a mountain always needs lots of planning and preparation.
Let's get ready, then, and set out on a safe trekking trip!

The Yatsugatake Mountains

The Yatsugatake Mountains, a long-extinct volcano with dozens of peaks (the highest of which reaches a height of 2,899m,) sits astride two prefectures, Yamanashi and Nagano, stretching 25km from North to South and 15km from East to West. The southern side is characterized by sharp and steep rocky peaks able to satisfy even the more experienced mountaineer. The northern side, instead, is made up of gentler slopes covered in mossy conifer forests and marshes that are forever veiled in a mysterious atmosphere. Easily accessible both from Tokyo and Nagoya, the Yatsugake is an excellent option for a two-day one-night trek.

Northern Yatsugatake

Skimming above the 2,000m line, the smooth ridges of the northern Yatsugatake peaks offer a varied range of trekking experiences, from light nature walks to more challenging hikes. This side of the mountain is rich in landscapes, such as fluffy moss forests, foggy marshes, vast grassy fields, and dozens of brightly-colored alpine flowers. While most trails can be completed in one day, there are lots of one of a kind mountain huts in the area that are definitely worth a visit.

Southern Yatsugatake

The jagged crests of the southern peaks all tower about 3,000m above sea level. One of the few rock climbing spots in Japan, the southern Yatsugatake provides a wide range of trails, all able to satisfy the most weathered hiker. Good access to the main trailheads means you can plan most hikes even if you only have a couple of days.

Mountains and Model Itineraries

As we explained above, there are dozens of trails in the Yatsugatake that you can combine to create twice as many itineraries. However, for those of you who are in search of inspiration, we have come up with six model itineraries you can refer to when planning your trip.

※The model itineraries below are just a few examples. The walking time references are taken from the Yatsugatake Alpine Navi.
Walking time changes depending on various factors such as your fitness level, the condition of the trail, the members in your party, and the length of your breaks.

Mt. Aka-dake (2,899m)

Mt. Aka-dake (2,899m)

Besides being the tallest peak of the Yatsugatake range, Mt. Akadake is also one of Japan's 100 Most Famous Mountains. From its summit, you can enjoy a 360-degree panorama view of Mt. Fuji, the three ranges of the Japanese Alps, and the rest of the Yatsugatake Mountains.
The reddish-brown soil that gives the mountain its name ("aka" means red in Japanese) shows different faces depending on the season and time of day, inviting trekkers to repeat their visit multiple times.
As it takes quite a long time to climb Mt. Akadake, it is advisable to plan at least one night stay at a mountain hut to avoid being pressed for time. Also, why give up the pleasure of admiring sunrise and sunset from 3,000m

INFORMATION
Itinerary Minoto-guchi Trailhead→(1h)→(via Kitazawa:2h)→Akadake Kosen→(40min)→Gyoja Goya→(via Jizo ridge:2h)→Mt. Akadake - summit→(via Bunzaburo ridge:1h10min) →Gyoja Goya→(via Minamizawa:1h40min)→Minoto→(45min)→Minoto-guchi Trailhead
Estimated walking time about 9h15min
Mt. Aka-dake

Mt. Io-dake (2,760m)

Mt. Io-dake (2,760m)

The northernmost peak of the southern side, Mt. Io-dake is the spot where the Yatsugatake past volcanic activities are most apparent. As a matter of fact, the mountain is rich in hot springs flowing both at its foothills and halfway through the top, offering trekkers a promise of relaxation at the end of their journey. The ascent to the summit ends in a precipitous cliff, which at closer inspection reveals itself to be the mouth of a huge explosion crater. When it comes to Mt. Io-dake, there are plenty of routes to choose from. After all, the mountain is accessible via many trailheads, and if you walk on the ridge, you can reach most of the surrounding peaks. If you have a chance to go in the summer, look out for small pink flowers named Komakusa, they are so pretty locals call them "queens of the alpine flowers."

INFORMATION
Itinerary Inagoyu Trailhead→(1h50min)→Shirabiso Goya→(1h10min)→Honzawa Onsen→(2h)→Mt. Io-dake - summit →(1h20min)→Honzawa Onsen→(1h10min)→Shirabiso Goya→(1h20min)→Inagoyu Trailhead
Estimated walking time about 8h50min
Mt. Io-dake

Mt. Tengu-dake (2,646m)

Mt. Tengu-dake (2,646m)

Mt. Tengu-dake is the southernmost mountain of the northern Yatsugatake but has more in common with the rocky southern peaks than the green northern hills. The top splits into two summits standing 300m apart, the sharp Mt. Higashi Tengu on the East and the soft Mt. Nishi Tengu on the West. Although it can be done as a day trek, the trip to Mt. Tengu-dake can be better appreciated when staying over at a mountain hut.

INFORMATION
Itinerary Karasawa Kosen→(2h)→Kuroyuri Hutte→(5min)→Nakayama Pass→(1h20min)→Mt. Tengu-dake - Higashi Tengu summit→(50min)→Nakayama Pass→(5min)→Kuroyuri Hutte→(1h15min)→Karasawa Kosen
Estimated walking time about 5h35min
Mt. Higashi Tengu-dake

Mt. Nyu (2,352m)

Mt. Nyu (2,352m)

If the appeal of the southern Yatsugatake lies in walking across steep ridgelines and clambering over rocky ascents toward the summit, the charm of its northern counterpart lies in leisurely taking in the beauty of nature while observing the plants and listening to the birds singing.
Mt. Nyu is the right mountain to do just that. The route passes through a mossy conifer forest of unparalleled beauty, coasts a crystalline mountain lake born after a volcanic eruption, and culminates into a clearing where you can enjoy the view of Mt. Fuji on one side and the lake seen from above on the other. As it can be completed in a relatively short time, this trek is perfect for beginners and families with small kids.

INFORMATION
Itinerary Shirakoma Pond parking lot→(10min)→Shirakoma Pond・Moss Forest→(1h10min)→Mt. Nyu→(1h)→Nakayama observatory spot→(45min)→Takamiishi Goya→(40min)→Shirakoma Pond parking lot
Estimated walking time about 3h45min
View from Mt. Nyu

Mt. Kita Yoko-dake (2,480m)

Mt. Kita Yoko-dake (2,480m)

Thanks to the Kita-Yatsugatake Ropeway that takes you to 2237m in just seven minutes, the top of Mt. Kita Yoko-dake can be reached in quite a short time. It is a popular course both in summer and winter. The peak stands just above the timberline and offers a panoramic view of the southern, central and northern Alps, Mt. Tateshina-yama, Kirigamine Plateaus, and Mt. Asama-yama. The area is also characterized by several small mountain lakes, ponds, and marshes such as Nanatsu-ike, Futago-ike, and Ama-ike.

INFORMATION
Itinerary Kita-Yatsugatake Ropeway- summit station→(55min)→Mt. Kita Yoko-dake- summit→Kita-Yatsugatake Ropeway- summit station (40min)
Estimated walking time about 1h35min
The summit of Mt. Kita Yoko-dake

Mt. Tateshina-yama (2,531m)

Mt. Tateshina-yama (2,531m)

The graceful cone-shaped body of Mt. Tateshina-yama, which earned it the name "Mt. Fuji of Suwa," makes it not only good to climb but also to watch from afar. The top of the mountain, covered by a layer of big igneous rocks, is free of plants and thus provides a 360° view of the mountains in Nagano from the rugged peaks of the southern Yatsugatake to the three ranges of the Alps, and Mt. Asama-yama.

INFORMATION
Itinerary Menokami Chaya (Tateshinayama Tozanguchi trailhead)→(3h)→Tateshina Sancho Hutte→(1h40min)→Menokami Chaya
Estimated walking time about 4h40min
View of Mt. Tateshina-yama from Lake Shirakaba

Trekking Itinerary

Let's choose an itinerary that is suitable to your fitness and experience level!

The Yatsugatake Mountains have several trailheads, and compared to other areas, an abundance of mountain huts, which gives you a lot of options when it comes to planning your route.
What is your level? Let's check the map and trail condition beforehand so that we can come up with a feasible trekking itinerary.

Yatsugatake Mountains - Trail Guide by Grade
The following grades refer to trekking in the summer season with good weather.

※( ) → Trailhead
※<> → Transit point -in case the route cannot be specified by listing the mountain and trailhead alone-

Required Fitness Level
Low →High
Difficulty Level Low → High
Can be done as a day trek 1 A
Mt. Kita Yoko-dake (Ropeway)
2 B
Mt. Tateshina-yama (Megami Chaya)

Mt. Tateshina-yama (7th Sta. Trailhead)

Mt. Tateshina-yama (Ogawara Pass)
3 B
Mt. Io-dake (Minoto) <Kitazawa>

Mt. Tengu-dake (Shibunoyu)

Mt. Tengu-dake (Karasawa Kosen) <West Ridge>

Mt. Io-dake (Sakura Daira)
C
Mt. Aka-dake (Minoto) <Minamisawa・Bunzaburo>

Mt. Amida-dake (Minoto) <minamisawa>
Needs to be an overnight trek 4 B
Mt. Io-dake (Honzawa Onsen)
C
Mt. Aka-dake・Mt. Yoko-dake・Mt. Io-dake (Minoto)

Mt. Tengu-dake (Honzawa Onsen)

Mt. Aka-dake (Somazoe Trailhead)

Mt. Amida-dake (Funayama Crossroads)

Mt. Aka-dake (Minoto) <Kitazawa・Jizo Ridge>

Mt. Gongen-dake (Kannon Daira)
D
Mt. Aka-dake (Kenkai Trailhead)
5 B
Mt. Io-dake (Mugikusa Pass)
C
Mt. Yoko-dake (Inagoyu)
D
Mt. Gongen-dake→Mt. Aka-dake (Kannon Daira・Minoto)
Required Fitness Level
Low →High
Difficulty Level Low → High
A B C D
Can be done as a day trek 1 Mt. Kita Yoko-dake (Ropeway)
2 Mt. Tateshina-yama (Megami Chaya)

Mt. Tateshina-yama (7th Sta. Trailhead)

Mt. Tateshina-yama (Ogawara Pass)
3 Mt. Io-dake (Minoto) <Kitazawa>

Mt. Tengu-dake (Shibunoyu)

Mt. Tengu-dake (Karasawa Kosen) <West Ridge>

Mt. Io-dake (Sakura Daira)
Mt. Aka-dake (Minoto) <Minamisawa・Bunzaburo>

Mt. Amida-dake (Minoto) <minamisawa>
Needs to be an overnight trek 4 Mt. Io-dake (Honzawa Onsen) Mt. Aka-dake・Mt. Yoko-dake・Mt. Io-dake (Minoto)

Mt. Tengu-dake (Honzawa Onsen)

Mt. Aka-dake (Somazoe Trailhead)

Mt. Amida-dake (Funayama Crossroads)

Mt. Aka-dake (Minoto) <Kitazawa・Jizo Ridge>

Mt. Gongen-dake (Kannon Daira)
Mt. Aka-dake (Kenkai Trailhead)
5 Mt. Io-dake (Mugikusa Pass) Mt. Yoko-dake (Inagoyu) Mt. Gongen-dake→Mt. Aka-dake (Kannon Daira・Minoto)

※This table was created using the data provided by Nagano Prefecture → Nagano Trail Guide by Grade

Trekking Itinerary Submission

In Nagano, it is necessary to submit a trekking itinerary if you wish to pass the mountain trails designated by the prefecture.
By preparing a trekking itinerary in advance, you get to research the characteristics of the mountain you wish to climb, make the necessary preparations, and set off on a safe trek.


How to Submit Your Trekking Itinerary

(Trekking Itinerary Form)
https://www.go-nagano.net/files/user/pdf/en/submissiontrekkin/HikingPlan.pdf

Print out the form above, and fill it out either in English or Japanese.

1. Submit it in the postbox at the trailhead.
(Please note: Some trailheads may not have a postbox.)

2. Send by Post
Post to:Nagano Prefecture Mountain & Highland Tourism Division
692-2 Habashita, Minami-Nagano, Nagano City, Nagano Prefecture 380-8570 JAPAN

3.FAX Submission
You can send your itinerary by FAX from convenience stores and hotels using this number: 03-6862-5035.

The Seasons of the Yatsugatake

June

Mt. Yoko-dake, Mt. Aka-dake, and Mt. Amida-dake
seen from the top of Mt. Io-dake

Mt. Yoko-dake, Mt. Aka-dake, and Mt. Amida-dake
seen from the top of Mt. Io-dake

The mountain opening ceremony on the first Sunday of the month announces the beginning of the summer trekking season. Temperatures start rising, and leftover snow mostly melts away. However, it is still possible to find a few spots, especially where the vegetation is thicker, with a residue of ice or snow. As the rainy season begins, moss and plants become greener and greener.

July

The Yatsugatake Mountains

The Yatsugatake Mountains

With the end of the rainy season, the mountain displays its full summer charm. A myriad of alpine plants bloom in every corner, and the woods come alive. Due to atmospheric conditions such as air pressure, the weather has a tendency to change suddenly. It is essential to come up with a carefully planned itinerary that keeps into consideration the abrupt change of weather such as evening showers and bolts of lightning and to have an early start and early finish. Equipment should always include rainwear and protection against the cold (the difference in temperature between day and night is significant.) Be careful of the slippery terrain during the rainy season, and make sure to drink plenty of water on sunny days.

August

The Yatsugatake Mountains on a sunny day

The Yatsugatake Mountains on a sunny day

Closer to the ridgeline, the first autumn flowers announce the change of season. On a rainy day, the moss looks juicy and brilliant. It starts getting chilly in the morning and evenings, so it is necessary to always pack warm clothes such as down and fleece jackets. The arrival of the first autumn rains and typhoons can bring days of bad weather. It is still advisable to make an early start and pack rainwear, to be prepared in case of sudden weather changes.

September

Mountain trail at the beginning of autumn

Mountain trail at the beginning of autumn

As the foliage starts turning red and yellow, you can tell that autumn is finally arrived. In the mornings and evenings, it starts getting cold, and the temperature can go down to 0 degrees. Fleece and down jackets are a must in this season. Days get shorter, and there is a stronger chance of typhoons and abrupt changes in weather.

October

The Yatsugatake Mountains seen from the rural area

The Yatsugatake Mountains seen from the rural area

The entire mountain is now tinged in autumn colors. When you climb over the timberline and look down, you are met with a whirlwind of reds, yellows and oranges that looks out of an impressionist painting. Typhoons and sudden weather changes are still a risk, temperatures can drop below zero, and toward the end of the month, it may even snow. We advise packing crampons (just in case) and make sure you are not too tight for time in your itinerary.

November

First snow on the southern Yatsugatake

First snow on the southern Yatsugatake

It is now cold even in the daytime. Snow may accumulate close to the ridgeline, and also in the zones free of snow, the surface of wooden trails and rocks can get slippery with frost. Winter equipment such as a thick pair of gloves, beanie, insulating clothes, and crampons becomes necessary. Some mountain huts close for the winter, so make sure you always check the websites after November.

WINTER

The silent white expanses of a winter mountain are a thing of rare beauty, but trekking in this season poses many dangers that should never be taken lightly. It is crucial to learn about the risks and how to deal with them in advance. Trail conditions change greatly depending on the snow accumulation and the weather, so it is vital to gather information from mountain huts and keep an eye on the weather report. Also, some mountain huts are closed during the winter, so better check before departure.

December

Southern Yatsugatake at the beginning of winter

Southern Yatsugatake at the beginning of winter

It gets colder and colder every day. The mountain finally wears its winter garb. Depending on the year, the snow cover may change, but in the areas where snow is deepest, you will need 10-point crampons, helmet, and ice axe. Even on trails free of snow, the frost on the ground may cause slips and falls.

January

Mt. Aka-dake in winter

Mt. Aka-dake in winter

Snowfalls get heavier, and snow keeps accumulating. 10-point crampons, helmet, and ice axe are now essential in all mountains. Your equipment should also include winter outer shells and trekking boots, sunglasses, goggles, balaclavas, insulating gloves and inner gloves (one extra pair of inner gloves just in case), etc.

February

Southern Yatsugatake in the middle of winter

Southern Yatsugatake in the middle of winter

This is the coldest month. Snow keeps falling, but even on trails with little snow, the frost causes slippery terrains. The contrast between the pure white of the snowy mountains and the deep blue of the sky is breath-taking. As the difference in temperature between day and night is extensive, it is essential to pack insulating clothes and all the necessary winter equipment.

March

Mt. Io-dake, Mt. Aka-dake, and Mt. Amida-dake
seen from the top of Mt. Neishi-dake

Mt. Io-dake, Mt. Aka-dake, and Mt. Amida-dake
seen from the top of Mt. Neishi-dake

Temperatures slowly rise, but there are still many days characterized by heavy snow, strong winds, and freezing cold. After every fresh snowfall, the risk of avalanches significantly increases, so you should be extra careful. As for February, the difference in temperature between day and night is extensive and requires insulating clothes to protect you from the glacial cold.

April

View from the top of Mt. Io-dake

View from the top of Mt. Io-dake

Toward the end of the month, it starts getting warmer, and snow begins melting in those areas more exposed to the sun. However, most trails are still covered in snow, and frozen terrains are very common. You should often check the weather report and keep informed about the trail conditions. Winter equipment, including crampons, gloves, and insulating clothes, remain essential.

May

View from the top of Mt. Tateshina-yama

View from the top of Mt. Tateshina-yama

Snow cover changes depending on the year, but usually, leftover snow is still present on most trails, especially in the shade. Snowfalls in the first week of May are not unheard of, so you should keep an eye on the weather report and pack your winter equipment. Some mountain huts do not open until after the golden week holidays, so make sure you check which ones are open in advance.

Clothes and Equipment

GREEN SEASON


To make the best of your time in the mountain and enjoy a safe trek, you should keep in mind the type of mountain, season and weather, and prepare accordingly.

GREEN SEASON

  • A
    Brimmed hat
    to protect you from the sun
  • B
    Sunglasses
    to protect you from UV exposure and foreign objects blowing in the wind
  • C
    Backpack
  • D
    Layering
    add or subtract layers to adapt to changing conditions
  • E
    Gloves
    better if windproof and waterproof
  • F
    Trekking poles
  • G
    Hiking boots
    choose wisely depending on the course and the weight of the baggage you intend to carry

Summer hike gear

One-day hike gear

  • 1
    Rainware
    jacket and trousers
  • 2
    Warm clothes
    down jacket or fleece depending on the season
  • 3
    Waterproof backpack cover
  • 4
    Bear bell
  • 5
    Headlight with spare batteries
  • 6
    Helmet
    to stay safe when hiking above the timberline
  • 7
    Cash
    make sure to have small change for toilet tips
  • 8
    Map and compass
  • 9
    Water bottle or thermos (at least 1 liter)
  • 10
    First aid kit and medicines
  • 11
    Snacks and a plastic bag
  • 12
    Tissues・Sunscreen・Insect repellent etc.
  • 13
    Mobile phone and insurance

In case of overnight stays
(in addition to the one-day hike gear)

  • 1
    Change of clothes
    socks, underwear etc.
  • 2
    Toiletries
    toothbrush, towel etc.

SNOW SEASON


To make the best of your time in the mountain and enjoy a safe trek, you should keep in mind the type of mountain, season and weather, and prepare accordingly.
About winter clothes

Layering helps prevent frostbites and hypothermia.

  • Make sure to wear clothes that fit you well.
  • Women tend to have a lower body temperature than men and may need extra layers.

SNOW SEASON

  • A
    Beanie
    to protect you from the cold - choose one that covers your ears
  • B
    Sunglasses
    to protect you from UV exposure and snow blowing in your face
  • C
    Backpack
    choose one where you can attach your ice axe
  • D
    Layering
    add or subtract layers to adapt to changing conditions)
    ・Outer shell and shell pants (breathable waterproof material)
    ・Mid layer (synthetic・wool)
    ・Insulating clothes (warm fleece jacket・wool etc.
  • E
    Gloves
    liner gloves + waterproof gloves
  • F
    Ice axe
    with strap
  • G
    Gaiters
    to avoid snow getting into your boots
  • H
    Hiking boots
    choose insulating boots that will allow fitting of crampons
  • I
    Crampons
    with at least 10 points

Trekking in winter is an unforgettable experience that allows you to admire an otherwordly scenery dominated by white. However, winter trekking can also be very dangerous with the risk of avalanches, slips, and even hypothermia.
Also, getting lost in winter may lead to further trouble, such as the rescue team itself getting lost or the helicopter being unable to get close due to bad weather. Even if you are planning a day trek, make sure to pack all the necessary emergency equipment.
Having good access, the Yatsugatake tends to attract many first-time winter trekkers, but it is far from an easy mountain. Everyone who sets foot on a winter mountain should research the possible risks and the way to prevent or deal with them in order to be ready.
※The Yatsugatake turns into a winter mountain from early November to early June.
※ Conditions change every year, so it is advisable to contact a mountain hut in advance to inquire about the trail.

About winter clothes

Layering helps prevent frostbites and hypothermia.

  • Make sure to wear clothes that fit you well.
  • Women tend to have a lower body temperature than men and may need extra layers.

Winter hike gear

  • 1
    An extra pair of gloves
    in case they get wet or lost
  • 2
    Neck warmer・Balaclava
  • 3
    Goggles
    in case of snowstorms・a must if you wear glasses
  • 4
    Thermos (500ml or bigger)
  • 5
    Helmet
  • 6
    Trekking poles
    with snow baskets

In case of emergency

  • First aid kit and medicines
  • Mobile phone
  • Map and compass
  • Trekking travel insurance
  • Survival tent / Emergency blanket
  • Headlight with spare batteries
  • Trekking plan with route description and a pen
  • Avalanche transceiver with spare batteries

Additional belongings

  • Change of clothes (socks, underwear etc.)
  • Snacks and a plastic bag
  • Waterproof backpack cover
  • Tissues
  • Sunscreen・Insect repellent
  • Cash

To enjoy a safe trek

  • Every time you climb a mountain, you do so at your own's risk. There is no electricity or potable water on the trails, and depending on the position, your mobile phone may have no reception.
  • Make sure to prepare a trekking itinerary and submit it at the yellow box located at trailheads and mountain huts. The information shared on a trekking itinerary greatly speeds up rescue activities in case of an emergency.
  • Keep an eye on the weather report, and in case of bad weather is forecasted, be ready to change to a safer route or find shelter at a mountain hut.
  • If you find yourself in trouble, seek help at the closest mountain hut, or if you do have reception, call 110 (communicate your position, the current situation, and the number of injured people.)
  • Make sure to finish your trek or to get to a mountain hut by 4 pm in the green season and by 3 pm in the winter season. Weather often changes suddenly in the afternoon.
  • Before embarking on your trek, check how long it takes to complete your itinerary and make sure you always leave yourself extra time.
  • The dispatchment of a private rescue team requires a hefty fee, especially when a helicopter is involved. Please be aware that the rescued person will be charged the entire sum.
  • Please be aware that the risk of falls, slips, and hypothermia dramatically increases during bad weather. In case of rain, put on your rainwear as soon as possible to avoid getting wet. Always choose a rain jacket over a poncho.
  • When giving way to other climbers, the person who stops should wait on the mountain side to avoid falling over the edge of the trail.
  • If you get lost, retrace your steps to the last clear landmark (such as a sign or a mountain hut) and reorient yourself using your hiking map.
  • If there is a risk of lightning, promptly find shelter at a mountain hut or other safe place. If there is nowhere to run, keep your body low to the ground to protect yourself.
  • If you trek in winter, you must prepare all the necessary winter equipment such as crampons, ice axe, and helmet. The Yatsugatake turns into a winter mountain from early November to early June.

Mountain Rules and Manners

  • The collection of flora and fauna inside the Yatsugatake area is prohibited by law.
  • Please do not step on the plants.
  • Please do not feed wild animals as it may disrupt the ecosystem.
  • Bringing pets into the Yatsugatake area is prohibited.
  • Please do not litter. Make sure to take your garbage home.
  • Never leave the mountain trail (do not go beyond the green rope that delimits the trail. The ropes are there to protect precious alpine plants.)
  • Open fires using branches and other dried plants are strictly prohibited. It is extremely difficult to put out a fire in the mountains. Please handle fire with care.
  • In the Yatsugatake Mountains, you can only set up a tent at designated places. Please check with the closest mountain hut.
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