Hiking Distance: 10km
Time: 8-9 hours
Elevation gain: 1150m
8 - 9 hours
The Daigenta loop is one of the best day hikes I've done in Japan, and the best hike I've done in Niigata. There is heaps of variety in the trail, it includes beautiful river crossings, dense forests full of wildlife, relaxed ridgeline hiking with stunning views, and chain assisted rock climbing. You cover two mountains with this hike, Daigenta at 1598m and Nanakoya at 1675m. You also won't find any crowds unlike many of the other popular hiking destinations.
Car - If using a car you just need to reach this parking lot, google maps might have some data connection issues when you get close.
Train + Bus/Taxi - If going by train, I highly recommend catching a taxi for 4000 yen from Yuzawa station, if you choose to catch a bus from the station then you will need to walk on a forest road for about 50 mins to reach the trailhead, I couldn't find any information for the bus schedule.
Trail head: Google Maps
Train Station: Yuzawa station is 1.5 hours from Tokyo and the train costs ¥6,590.
The start of the hike is pretty mellow until you reach the river crossing, there will be a rope to help you across. If the water looks high or you're worried about slipping then it's best to take off your shoes. After the river crossing the trail becomes nice and steep, you'll then climb 650 meters within 2km. Once you reach the first summit, take a well earned break and enjoy the view, Daigenta looks amazing and may seem difficult from this angle, but you have already completed the hardest part.
Continue along the ridgeline to eventually reach Nanakoya at 1675 meters, I would recommend checking for ticks regularly while on this ridge, I found two when I hiked there in July. Turn left at the intersection of Nanakoya, the other path will lead to a mountain refuge hut in case you need to spend the night. Also note the first half of the trail from Nanakoya to Daigenta was quite overgrown and muddy/slippery when we were there.
The trail heading down from Daigenta can be quite steep, but after 1-2 hours it will mellow out as you reach the river.
Weather and Seasons
Summer and autumn are the best times for this hike. Be careful if there has been a lot of rain as there will be river crossings. There is likely to be snow hanging around until May/June.