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Stephen Parks
(sdparks) - M

Locale: Southwest
Trip to Japan on 06/11/2014 20:08:09 MDT Print View

You might remember my posts from a few months ago regarding a potential move overseas. Japan is now looking like a good possiblity for a transfer near the end of this year. I will be travelling to Japan (Tokyo area) in July for a workshop at our center there as well as to tour the center, talk to some people there, and to try to get a feel whether I think I would like Japan.

I'll be staying a few extra days after the workshop so that I can look around at some potential places to live and also to do some sight-seeing. I could probably manage to do some hiking while I'm there if I don't need to take too much gear.

I know some of you live in that area. Any recommendations on where to go/stay or what to do with 4-5 days would be very welcome.

-Stephen

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
Re: Trip to Japan on 06/12/2014 01:10:18 MDT Print View

If you have 3 consecutive days, I'd recommend Tateyama Alpine Route in the North Alps. You can overnight in a relatively nice lodge in Murodo with onsen bath so no gear needed. The climbing is not too tough with some nice ridgeline walking at ~3000m. Spectacular 360 views, ancient giant cedar forest in the lower valley, alpine marsh flowers, volcanic sulfur "hell" valley, maybe still a little snow off trail (though the Live Cams today will suggest otherwise!). Easy access via public transport. BIG tourist spot but only because it is so spectacular.

http://www.alpen-route.com/en/introduction/highlights/murodo

I recommend staying here, http://www.mikuri.com/english/index.html

You can book an inexpensive overnight bus to Toyama here,

http://willerexpress.com/en/

M G
(drown) - F - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah
Fuji on 06/12/2014 04:00:21 MDT Print View

I would consider a climb of Fuji. I think it would teach you much about all things Japanese.

b willi jones
(mrjones) - F

Locale: best place in the world !?
Re: Fuji on 06/12/2014 04:16:52 MDT Print View

right on... Fuji here you come... yeeeeeeeeeeaha

make it happen... plus a trip report and photos when you get back

Edited by mrjones on 06/12/2014 04:19:25 MDT.

Stephen Parks
(sdparks) - M

Locale: Southwest
Fuji on 06/13/2014 02:59:56 MDT Print View

Thanks for the replies. I guess Mt. Fuji is pretty obvious now that you mention it. The timing will be good it seems, and in case a transfer there doesn't work out, I will at least have had that experience. I'll check my vacation balance tomorrow, maybe I can hit the north Alps as well.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
Re: Fuji on 06/13/2014 04:10:43 MDT Print View

the time to climb Fuji is now. when the official season starts in July you will ass to tail with 1000 others all the way up the mountain. would not wish that experience on my worst enemy!

Don Morris
(hikermor) - F
Fuji-san on 06/13/2014 12:39:49 MDT Print View

Climbing Fuji years ago while on R&R from Koreaa is one of my greatest experience ever. Did it in March so ice ax and crampons were necessary. Fell in with two Japanese lads - they spoke no English, I spoke no Japanese - we had a great time because we did speak climbing.

It will be crowded in the summer, so I imagine the JAs would be a good idea. Japan is a wonderful country and I'll bet you will enjoy your stay ,however long it turns out to be...

Stephen Parks
(sdparks) - M

Locale: Southwest
Re: Re: Fuji on 06/15/2014 11:51:59 MDT Print View

Flights are booked, and I decided to take a full week for exploring, so I'll have more options (I need to take 4 weeks of vacation before the end of the year or I'll lose it).

I'll probably take two days to explore potential areas to live if I transfer, and then the rest will be real vacation time.

So, any further ideas on what to do with 4-5 days?

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
Re: Re: Re: Fuji on 06/16/2014 00:50:03 MDT Print View

Not really. Summer weather patterns favor hiking closer to the Sea of Japan side of Honshu with foul weather more common and violent on the Pacific side. You will also want to get into the high alpine above 2000m. At lower elevations, Summer climate in central Honshu is more like Houston in July.

Hence my recommendation for Tateyama in the Kita Alps. The bus will take you directly to the Murodo plateau at 2400m. It's packed with tourists escaping the Summer heat, but once you get away from Murodo the crowds thin out and you may be the only one on the trail for hours.

The other quintessential Japan mountain experience is Kamikochi to Karasawa Col and back, ~36km roundtrip with hut stays along the way. Or if you are ambitious you can push on to Yarigatake, the Japanese Matterhorn at ~3200m, and ~45km roundtrip. There are other nice routes along the ridgelines, but you will have some exposure and need to negotiate some ladders and chains.

http://www.kamikochi.or.jp/english/

Again, Kamikochi is big crowded tourist area but once you get about 6km up the river valley the day tourist crowds thin out though you will still see lots of hikers.

Edited by rmjapan on 06/16/2014 00:55:38 MDT.

Stephen Parks
(sdparks) - M

Locale: Southwest
Re: Fuji on 06/16/2014 17:06:27 MDT Print View

Thank you again for the recommendations, Rick. I think these are good options for the reasons you mention, and also because I think that it will be a reasonable representation of the types of areas that I would like to visit if I moved there.

What types of huts are these that you mention? Are they staffed, or are they just shelters (or are you referring to the "mountain inns" that are listed in at the link you sent me)? Are reservations required? Do you know of a website that has a listing of mountain huts?

Thank you for your help,

-Stephen

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
Re: Japan on 06/17/2014 01:37:01 MDT Print View

The huts in these areas are all staffed and prices, usually ~JPY8,000, will include dinner and breakfast and a futon in a shared room. The huts can be huge too, holding over 300 persons in the case of Yarigatake Sanso! Reservations are best, but mountain safety standards dictate they cannot refuse shelter to anyone. In high seasons July-Aug, you may only be given a futon set and a corner in the dining hall if you arrive after 5pm without reservation. Facilities can be rustic, more so the higher up the mountain you get though the ones in Kamikochi and Murodo are more inn-like because of the areas popularity. Huts generally run on "mountain time"... lights on/breakfast at 5:30am, checkout by 8am, and dinner at 5:30pm with lights out 8pm.

The huts all have websites too. Info in English is sketchy though. This page is the only link I have that kinda sums them up, http://www.northalps.net/nabbn2/index.php?language=en

Recommend you look thru the Hiking in Japan website, http://japanhike.wordpress.com/ and join his similar named Facebook group for more input.

I am in the UK now until July 20 otherwise I would offer to hike with you. But if you would like a pro guide to handle all the logistics you might contact this guy, http://www.kantoadventures.com/. He is an American working out of Yokohama too.

Arapiles .
(Arapiles) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Re: Re: Fuji on 06/19/2014 08:10:13 MDT Print View

Hi Stephen

This trip report might be of interest in relation to Kamikochi and Yarigatake:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=9140

cheers

Stephen Parks
(sdparks) - M

Locale: Southwest
Re: Re: Re: Fuji on 06/28/2014 18:23:29 MDT Print View

Rick and Arapiles, thank you both for the very helpful information.

Rick, It is too bad that we won't be able to meet in Japan. You are returning the day after I depart. We may have other opportunities in the future.

I am a little confused about the Tateyama route. The only trails I can find are 2.5km at most, but you mentioned getting away from Murodo and possibly being the only person on the trail for hours. Am I missing something?

If there are only day hikes around Murodo, then I think that hut-to-hut hiking around Kamikochi and Yarigatake may be more fitting. I don't mind the idea of ladders and pegs, as long as I don't need any real mountain climbing experience (which I don't have). From Arapiles trip report (from an August trip) and other reports on the web, I'm not sure if I would need crampons. Is this the case? I will have trekking poles, but if I need more than trail runners on my feet, I would have to buy something.

Can you recommend options on what to do after Yari (assuming the weather and my stamina cooperate) other than just going back the way I came? The Daikiretto does seem rather intimidating. There are several options discussed in the comments on http://japanhike.wordpress.com/2008/04/14/mt-yari/ but I don't know yet if those would take me somewhere where I could get off the trail and get back to Tokyo.

-Stephen

Edited by sdparks on 06/28/2014 18:32:36 MDT.

Ito Jakuchu
(jakuchu) - MLife

Locale: Japan
Re: Re: Re: Re: Fuji on 06/28/2014 22:27:39 MDT Print View

"I am a little confused about the Tateyama route. The only trails I can find are 2.5km at most, but you mentioned getting away from Murodo and possibly being the only person on the trail for hours. Am I missing something?"

Hi, first, I think what Rick is writing is on the button. I'm not sure exactly which routes you are looking at, but a lot of people when they climb Tateyama, they mean the mountain range Tateyama (which in that sense consists of a couple of different mountains/peaks). So from what I experienced there, people climb from Murodo to a peak called Oyama, which has a toilets, a hut/shop (called Ichinokoshi if I'm not mistaken), and a shrine that you can climb. Then they turn back as this is their day hike. If you continue from there on, you can suddenly be totally alone. From there you can for example climb Ounanjiyama (the highest peak in Tateyama at 3015m) and onwards to Bessan and Tsurugimae, where there will be huts and a camp site. If you want to climb Tsurugi you have to read up a bit on her, and do it in the morning - if you have good weather (lots of rescues from there if I'm not mistaken).

If you can, buy in advance, or once you arrive in Japan, go into a outdoor/climbing shop and get map 36 of the Kita Alps
http://www.amazon.co.jp/山と高原地図-剱・立山/dp/4398759646/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404015951&sr=8-1&keywords=山+地図+36

Hope that helps. Don't underestimate the rainy season, and have fun.

Edited by jakuchu on 06/28/2014 23:23:45 MDT.

Ito Jakuchu
(jakuchu) - MLife

Locale: Japan
map on 06/28/2014 22:36:22 MDT Print View

tateyama

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
Re: Tateyama map on 06/29/2014 02:13:03 MDT Print View

Heading back to Snowdonia tonight to finish the last week of my rock scramble course here in the UK now so this may be my only reply until after July 5.

If you are going to Tateyama in mid-July there will still be snow left in the Murodo area and in the mountain valleys so most day tourists will be confined to the terrace area and paved paths. And while most of the snow should be off the peaks you will still encounter it on the approach up to the Ichi-no-koshi hut.

Truth is you will almost certainly encounter snow fields on all the valley approaches and North-to-West exposures in Tateyama and Kamikochi during July so having crampons is prudent. Especially since this was a high snow Winter by any measure and the live cams I checked this AM still show several meters remaining!

Again, I advise you get on the Hiking In Japan Facebook page for latest details and advise. You may even find a hiking partner to go with you if you ask.

Stephen Parks
(sdparks) - M

Locale: Southwest
Re: Re: Tateyama map on 06/29/2014 20:26:14 MDT Print View

Thank you Jakuchu-san for the advise and the preview of the map. I will buy one when I arrive in Japan. It looks like there are an endless number of routes that could be combined for hiking in the Japanese mountains.

I will look at crampons. I don't think I will find any in Houston, so I may have to order some quickly online or pick some up when I get to Japan. I expect they might be cheaper here though. They look like miserable things to try to pack. I wonder what is the least aggressive (least expensive) style that I could reasonably get by with.

Rick, I had overlooked your recommendation for the facebook page (I may have an unconcious mental facebook filter), but I will certainly post some messages there. Enjoy your rock scrambling course.

-Stephen

Edited by sdparks on 06/29/2014 20:39:05 MDT.