I took a direct bus from Shinjuku Sunday (July 13th) morning to Kamikochi, which arrived at around 12:30. From there I walked to Yokoo-sansou, which took only 2-1/2 hours, but it was raining so I stayed there for the night. Yokoo is quite nice; it even has an onsen.
Monday morning it was still raining. I discussed Yari with some experienced-looking people and when they considered the weather and my gear, they told me “day-hike” and pointed me toward Hotake, so I took their advice and went west. I arrived at Karasawa-hyutte before 11:00, but ended up not going any further that day. It had rained constantly, and I had to cross some snow fields with very limited visibility. I found this a little unnerving due to the lack of clear paths across the snowfields and the very poor visibility, especially since one of the snow fields had water running under it. I also found that I was still quite weakened from the bad cold I had caught on the plane, and eventually decided to just stay at Karasawa-hyutte for the night and I took the free time in the afternoon to rest up. This hut is apparently extremely popular in the fall when the leaves change colors.
Tuesday morning brought clear skies and there was no more rain forecast until the next day. I considered going up to Hotakadake for the day and spending the night up there, coming back down via the same route the next day, but I would have likely had a lot of rain that next day coming back down, and I’d had enough rain. I was about to just call it quits and walk back to Kamikochi and go back to Tokyo, but I met a very nice German couple who were going to go up to Hotakadake and from there head south and spend the night at hut part way down the mountain. That would leave them with just a short hike down to Kamikochi the next morning before the rain was expected to start. They had researched the route and it was supposed to be free of snow most of the way. I decided to join them and we left around 7:00. We had to cross quite a bit of snow at first, but it eventually turned to rock with a lot of scrambling required. We made good time up to Hotakadake-sansou and then traversed over to Okuhotakadake, with great views and even a shrine on the peak. The terrain was pretty rugged, and most people that passed us had helmets on. From there we headed toward Maehotakadake and then down to the next hut (I can’t remember the name right now, and it isn’t labeled in English on the map). The German guy thought it was going to be easier going after Okuhotakadake, but it remained quite rugged with a lot of scrambling and quite a few chains. It wasn’t too dangerous in itself, but I had really exceeded my endurance and could have gotten into a bad situation a few times due to fatigue. I was really beat when we got to the hut at around 16:30. This hut was only 5 years old, as the original hut had been taken out by an avalanche.
Wednesday morning we hiked down to Kamikochi with very sore legs. I was able to get a refund on my bus ticket which was for the next day. We went to a nearby town with onsen to clean up, and then I got a bus back to Shinjuku.
Here is a link to a panorama I took at Okuhotakedake: http://photosynth.net/view.aspx?cid=2e6e6abe-a3e3-4a75-bebf-60b521097fe1