Hiking Distance: 8km
Time: 5-6 hrs
Elevation Gain: 900m
Hotels & Campsites
Mt. Kaimon, or Kaimondake, is a prominent volcano that rises from the ocean on the southern end of Kagoshima in Kyushu. It's a dormant stratovolcano that last erupted in the 9th century and hasn't seen much activity since. There is only one trail, which eventually twirls up the peak, and provides sweeping views over Kagoshima. Two-thirds of the hike is spent in a heavily eroded dry creek bed, with dirt walls towering around you - this means there is no wind so it can become very hot during the summer period, from June to August. But after this, the terrain evolves into a fun rocky trail, featuring the occasional rope to assist with climbing. Mt. Kaimon is a popular goal for hikers in Japan as it's one of the 8 mountains in Kyushu that feature on the Hyakumeizan.
If you're driving, simply park at this campground, it's only a 5 minute walk from the trailhead. It will take about 1.5 hours to drive here from Kagoshima.
If you're going by public transport then you'll need to reach Kaimon Station, from there it's a 30min walk or a 5min taxi to get to the trailhead.
From Osaka/Kyoto and Tokyo
Flights to Kagoshima can vary a lot depending on the day, ranging from $100 to $200 USD one-way, check Skyscanner for the best options.
The overnight ferry from Osaka to Beppu is possibly the best way to travel to Kyushu - there is also one for Kagoshima, however, that ferry arrives at a distant port, requiring an additional shuttle bus that takes 2 hours to get into Kagoshima city. Prices start from around ¥8000 and increase if you want a nicer room, the price can also double on public holidays. The ferry is very nice and is an experience in itself. There is also a ferry from Tokyo to Fukuoka. Click here for Osaka, or here for Tokyo.
Weather and Seasons
Spring and Autumn provide this most comfortable weather for hiking Mt. Kaimon, with the ideal months running being April and May for Spring, or October and November for Autumn. You can hike in Summer if you don't mind the heat and chance of rain. Snow is rare on Kaimon so you can also hike in Winter.
GPS map: Outdooractive.com
The trailhead is only a 5-minute walk from the campground parking lot, and the trail itself is very straightforward, well-marked, and doesn't have any intersections. You will spend the first 2 hours in a very deep creek bed with dirt walls surrounding you, so there won't be any views for about 90mins until you reach a small break point. After this section, the trail thankfully evolves into some enjoyable rocky terrain and includes the odd rope and ladder to assist with the climb. After about 2.5 - 3 hours you'll reach the top with panoramic views in all directions.