Mt Kuratake hike (Yamanashi prefecture)
Kuratakeyama (倉岳山) is located in Yamanashi prefecture, just outside Tokyo, and makes for a nice half-day hike with a good view of the elusive Mt Fuji from the top – but only if you’re lucky. Kuratake is 990m high (the starting point at Torisawa (鳥沢) station is at around 300m), and once you get out of the town the trail is entirely in the forest. Unlike nearby Mt Takao, Kuratakeyama isn’t a famous mountain for Tokyo day trippers, there’s no cable car, no cafe, and no temple, so this is a good hike if you want to get away from the crowds.
There isn’t a lot of English language information about this hike online, the trailhead isn’t signposted from the station, and the trail itself is a dirt hiking trail; I’ve marked the route on the map – for those not comfortable reading maps and contours, it might be easier to head to Mt Takao instead!
From the station turn right along the main road for five minutes before turning right again and walking through the town to the river:
After crossing over the bridge, ignore the first left turning and follow the road up the hill to the right, before turning left up the hill through another small village.
At the back of the village you come to a gate which is the start of the Mt Kuratake trail (the sign in Japanese asks that you make sure to close it properly behind you). Once through the gate you’ll pass a small reservoir and then the trail goes up through the forest to the top:
On the whole it’s quite easy to follow, but in a couple of places it isn’t entirely obvious and at one point near the top I kept going straight when the path took a sharp right, and found myself walking up a steep slope through ankle-deep leaves… I just kept going and eventually came out on the trail again along the ridge at the top, but following the trail back down on my descent I realised where I’d gone wrong and if you find yourself accidentally off-trail it would be better to backtrack and find the path!
As long as you follow the path better than I did, it brings you up to a junction on the ridge – turning right here a short walk takes you to the summit of Mt Takahata (高畑山) which is a shade lower than Mt Kuratake, and turning left takes you to the top of Mt Kuratake. If you’re lucky, Fuji will be visible to the southwest – the earlier in the day you make it up there, the better your chances. To the north, you’re looking back down into the valley you’ve just climbed out of, and beyond that the Okutama mountains.
The hike takes a few hours, and the round train trip from Tokyo takes a few more. Torisawa station is located on the JR Chuo line which you can take from Tokyo station or Shinjuku – as always, check Hyperdia for train times, but basically you want to take a rapid train to Takao and transfer to a local train there (see here for an explanation of how to use Hyperdia). It takes about 90 minutes from Tokyo, depending on your wait at Takao – there’s a large statue of a tengu head on the platform at Takao (the tengu are mountain spirits associated with Mt Takao and Kyoto‘s Mt Kurama), so you can occupy yourself taking photos of that while you wait!
Have you climbed Kuratakeyama? How was it? Got any questions? Leave a comment below!
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For some other hikes in and around Tokyo see here, and check out my guide to hiking in Kyoto. For further Japan hiking inspiration, check out this great blog and this one (also see my pages on hiking in Taipei and hiking in Seoul)
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