Hiking Distance: 26 km
Time: 2 Days
Elevation change: ➚1850m ➘1850m
➚ 1850m ➘1850m
Huts & Campgrounds
Mt. Hotaka, and the main peak Oku-Hotaka, is the 3rd highest mountain in Japan, reaching 3190m. It overlooks Kamikochi and has many different trails leading to the peak. It's position is perfect for a variety of multi-day hikes accessible from Kamikochi or Shinhotaka. This itinerary can be done as either a 2 day or 3 day loop hike from Kamikochi. For the challenging 2 day itinerary, described here, you'll spend the at the Hotakadake mountain hut located near the peak. If you prefer to spread this out over 3 days, then the Dakesawa, Karasawa, or Tokusawa mountain huts are great options to make your hike easier.
The trail from Kamikochi to Oku-Hotaka starts with a modest walk into the forest which gradually increases in difficulty. After a few hours the terrain become very steep and includes multiple ladders and chains to assist with rock climbing.
Before reaching Oku-Hotaka, you will come to an intersection that offers up the incredible peak of Mae-Hotaka, this out-and-back detour will take nearly 2 hours and is highly recommended if you have enough time, the views are uniquely stunning and the rock climbing is amazing. Be mindful however, this is a bit more technical as there are no chains and ladders to assist with the climbing.
Mt. Hotaka is also part of the famous Yarigatake to Oku-Hotaka circuit, a 3 day hike which includes a technical ridgeline known as the daikiretto, you can read more about that hike here.
Car: If using a car you'll also need to catch a bus from Sawando Parking Area (Closer to Matsumoto) or the Hirayu Parking Area, the bus will take about 30 minutes from the parking lot.
Direct Bus: For Kamikochi, there is a direct bus from Kyoto, Osaka, and Tokyo. You can view all the details and make reservations here. The price ranges from ¥10,000 to ¥13,000.
Cheapest Option: For Kyoto and Osaka, there is a direct bus to the Shinhotaka ropeway which can also be used to access the mountains in Kamikochi. You can make reservations here, it's only ¥7500.
Train + Bus: You can also come from Matsumoto Station or from Gifu prefecture's Takayama Station. The official Kamikochi website provides a detailed overview of all the travel times and options.
Note: Kamikochi is closed from 15th Nov to the end of April
Kamikochi to Oku-Hotaka via Dakesawa
GPS Hiking Map: outdooractive.com
Time: 8-9 hrs
Distance: 8.5 km
Elevation change: ➚ 1800m gain ➘ 300m loss
From the bus stop at Kamikochi, you will have a nice leisurely walk along the river, cross the kappa bridge, and follow the map toward Dakesawa - it will take about 2.5 hour to reach Dakesawa. This is where the climbing truly begins as you'll spend the next 2-3 hours hiking up toward the Mae-Hotaka peak. Once you reach the intersection for Mae-Hotaka you may be feeling very tired already, in that case you can save 50 mins if you skip it and just continue on toward Oku-Hotaka. After another 1.5 hours you'll reach the peak of Oku-Hotaka, and from here it's just 30 mins down to the Hotaka mountain hut where you'll be spending the night.
Hotakadake hut to Karasawa and Kamikochi
GPS Hiking Map: outdooractive.com
Time: 7-8 hrs
Distance: 17.5 km
Elevation change: ➚ 50m gain ➘ 1550m loss
The return trail is long but easier than the first day, it's a gradual descent with some steep sections into Karasawa and then a leisurely walk along the river to get back into Kamikochi.
The trail on the way to Mt. Hotaka
Weather and Seasons
Summer and autumn, from June to October, are the best times for this hike. There is likely to be snow hanging around until June. The autumn leaves will be colourful from late-September to mid-October. Kamikochi is closed during winter, from November to April.