Mt Hiuchi is one of Japans 100 famous mountains and is situated in Myoko Togakushi Renzan National Park. While the area may take its name from Mt Myoko which dominates the view from the village, Mt Hiuchi which is behind Mt Myoko is undeniably the more beautiful mountain to climb. Mt Hiuchi is famous for the stunning flower gardens that appear during the summer months and for the stunning autumn colours that are on display at the end of September and in to October. Near the summit of Mt Hiuchi is the famous Koya pond which was listed by CNN as one the top 25 most beautiful spots in the world.
The climbing season generally runs from July to November. Any earlier and there will still be snow on the trails.
The start of the trail is at Sasagamine camp ground. To get there you can either drive as there is a large car park or take a local bus. For bus time please check the Sasagamine bus time table here.
The trail start is clearly marked by a large wooden gate. The course all the way to the top is very straight forward and is very well maintained. There is only one-point ¾ of the way up where you must choose your path. At that point you choose the path that goes straight up and is marked by the kanji 火打山. This is the kanji for Mt Hiuchi so is worth remembering.
The trail is about 9km to the summit. For climbers of average pace, you can expect to reach Koya pond in around 4-5 hours. Those who are faster could reach it in 3 hours. From Koya pond to the summit depending on pace it will take between 1.5 – 2.5 hours. If you are planning to climb and come down in the same day you want to start early to allow for enough daylight for your decent. If you plan to camp at Koya pond or stay in the hut then you can be leisurely with your climb.
The course is not as tough as Mt Myoko. It can be distinctly split into four parts. The beginning of the climb is quite gentle, then after you cross the river it becomes steep and more demanding. Then again it becomes gentler leading up to Koya pond. The assent to the summit is steep and demanding. This breaking up of the trail and the climb through beautiful woodland makes Mt Hiuchi a joy to experience and climb.
For more information on the trail you can check our trail guide here.
As with all long distance hiking you should prepare well. This means proper hiking shoes. You will find your feet may get sore in normal sneakers. You should also carry more fluid than you think you will need. You can not buy any drinks from the mountain hut. Depending on the season you should carry between 2 – 4 litres of fluid. You will also need to replace lost electrolytes so you should have sports drinks or salt/glucose candies or suitable snacks.
It is recommended to try to hit the summit before or around mid-day before clouds come in and potentially obscure some of the breath-taking view from the top.
For those who are interested in camping or staying in the hut please view the Koya Pond Hut page for more information.