Hiking Distance: 14km
Time: 2 days
Elevation change: ➚2400m ➘1100m
Kaikoma & The Kuroto Ridge
➚ 2400 ➘ 1100m
Huts & Campgrounds
Mt. Kaikoma is a magnificent granite peak located in the Southern Alps with a prominent pyramid structure. It's shape and appearance is often considered the most impressive of the Southern Alps and looks particularly beautiful while hiking up Kitadake. The two main trails leading up to the peak include a variety of chains and ladders for assisted rock climbing. The route recommended here, climbing up the Kuroto ridge, is considered one of the steepest in Japan. It's an incredible hike that features over 20 ladders perfectly placed along the ridgeline, it also includes chains, ropes, and a beautiful forest complete with beech and chestnut trees.
The Trail from Kitazawa Pass is the most crowded because it can be done as a day hike if you have a car, and is used to access another mountain, Mt. Senjo, which is also part of the Hyakumeizan. It can be accessed via public transport, however, it's a fair bit of effort with 2 busses required from Chino station, and over 2 hours of travel time.
The Kuroto ridge trail is recommended for Kaikoma because it's less crowded, has incredible terrain features, and requires no back tracking. It's also easier to get to without a car, simply requiring a taxi from a nearby train station. It's an overnight hike, with the closest campsite and mountain hut located 3 hours from the peak.
On a clear day the view from the peak is quite spectacular, you'll be able to see Mt. Fuji, Yatsugatake, the Central Alps, the Northern Alps, and Kitadake. The mountain also features some interesting shrines as it was the subject of Shinto worship during the 18th and 19th century.
If you're driving and want to hike the Kuroto ridge route, simply park at the free Ojira-gawa Canyon parking lot. However, you'll need to hike back the same way if you're parking here. Alternatively, you could park overnight at the Kobuchizawa train station and catch a taxi to Ojiragawa Canyon.
From Kyoto & Osaka: The cheapest option is an overnight bus to Kofu Station. You can view all the details and make reservations here. It takes over 7 hours and the price ranges from ¥6,000 to ¥9,000. Alternatively, you could take the Shinkansen.
From Tokyo: There is a train that runs all the way to Kofu from Shinjuku Station. It takes about 90 mins and costs around ¥2,500 for a non-reserved seat.
The Taxi: Once you arrive at Kofu you will need to take another train to Kobuchizawa Station, and then catch a taxi to Ojira-gawa Canyon. Although not the closest station, Kobuchizawa is the best option because the station is big enough that the taxis often wait for customers there - so you won't need to pay the extra fee for making a reservation. The taxi will cost about ¥2,500.
Getting home: Your finish line for this hike is the popular Kitazawa pass, despite its popularity, the busses can be quite difficult. If you arrive late, you can stay at the mountain hut or campsite. The only option here is catching a bus to either Ina station or Chino station.
Getting to Chino station takes a combination of 2 buses with over 2 hours of travel time, the good news is the stopover in Senryuso has an onsen.
Kitazawa pass → Senryuso → Chino station
There is only one bus service between Senryuso and Chino station, I couldn't find current timetable info online, however, as of 2022, the times for the Chino station bus were:
10:15am Chino Station - 11:30am Senryuso (仙流荘)
4:45pm Senryuso (仙流荘) - 6:15pm Chino Station
The people at Kitazawa Pass are very helpful, so you can double check with them once you arrive. The Kitazawa Pass bus to Senryuso runs more frequently, and you can find timetable info online here.
Weather and Seasons
Summer and autumn, from July to October, are the best time for this hike. There is likely to be snow hanging around until June, and starting again in October. The most amount of clouds and rainfall usually occurs in June and July. The autumn leaves will be colourful from mid-September to mid-October.
Ojiragawa Valley to Shichijo Hut
Time: 6-7 hrs
Distance: 7.5 km
Elevation change: ➚ 1710m gain ➘ 100m loss
At the Ojiragawa campsite you'll have one last opportunity for a nice toilet and some vending machines, there will be no water sources for 6 hours so be prepared. Follow your GPS map and cross the river to begin ascending up Mt. Kuroto, after about 2 hours you'll reach the first set of ladders. There is only one trail, which is well marked and well maintained, so enjoy the hike and eventually you'll reach the Shichijo hut where you can pitch your tent or check in to your room. The next morning you'll have a 3 hour hike to the peak with lots of rock climbing, this section is really stunning and super fun, so it's best experienced with adequate light - therefore I advise against trying to reach the peak for sunrise as the journey itself is the biggest highlight.
Shichijo Hut to Kaikoma and Kitazawa Pass
Time: 6-7 hrs
Distance: 6 km
Elevation change: ➚ 690m gain ➘ 1000m loss
The 3 hours of hiking from the Shichijo hut to the peak of Kaikoma features a lot of rock climbing and beautiful views. After about 30 minutes you'll constantly come across multiple viewpoints to catch the sunrise, so don't worry about trying to reach the peak before dawn.
The peak of Kaikoma has panoramic views and plenty of space for lunch. On your way down you'll find an easier path heading toward a sub peak called Mt. Marishiten with another nice viewpoint. From Kaikoma it will take about 4 hours to reach Kitazawa pass, although often very steep, it's a spectacular descent involving a lot of ridgline rock climbing, and eventually ends in a beautiful forest.
Ladders heading up the Kuroto ridgeline
Altitude & Weather
Hiking Distance: 14 km
Time: 2 Days
Elevation gain: 2400m