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Difficulty: 3/5

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Hiking Distance: 8-10km

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Time: 6-8 hrs

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Elevation Gain: 900-1250m

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Prefecture: Oita

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Mt. Sobo

祖母山

Elevation: 1756m

Prefecture

Oita

Distance

8-10 km

Elevation Gain

900 - 1250m

Time

6-8 Hours

Difficulty

3/5

Accomodation

Hotels & Campsites

Overview

Mt. Sobo is a Hyakumeizan located on the border of Oita and Miyazaki prefectures in Kyushu. It's part of a large mountain range that includes two other fantastic peaks, Mt. Okue and Mt. Katamuki. In terms of terrain, Mt. Sobo is actually the least impressive of the 3 peaks, but it receives more attention due to its Hyakumeizan status, and it's an easier hike. It's situated close to the popular Takachiho gorge and has many different trailheads leading to the peak, this guide will focus on the two most popular options. 

 

The shortest and most common trail is from the Kitadani parking lot which can only be accessed via car or taxi, note that the dirt road leading to the parking lot is bit rough. The Kitadani trail is somewhat lacking in views, but features a long ladder, a cave, and once you reach the top you have an amazing panorama that includes the Aso-Kuju mountain range.

The other trailhead is the only one currently accessible without a car, it's near Ogata station and can be easily accessed via Beppu.

Access

Car: You can park at the trailhead, although it might be busy on weekends & public holidays, so start early in the morning or arrive the night before.

Public Transport - If going by public transport then there are two options:

1. Catch a taxi to Kitadani trailhead, about ¥6000-¥7000. The best option for this might be from Takachiho gorge because it's a popular tourist destination with public transport. If you want to skip the gorge, you can catch a taxi from Takamori station for about ¥7000. Takamori is 2 hours by train from Kumamoto and only costs ¥1000.

2. Catch a bus or taxi to the Obira-Kouzan trailhead from Ogata station. This is the best option if you're coming from Beppu and want to skip Takachiho gorge, Ogata station is only 1hr 20mins from Beppu and the train costs ¥1300. Bus times are not on google maps, but Cecilia does a nice job of summarising them on her website here. A taxi here would cost about ¥6000.

From Osaka/Kyoto and Tokyo: 

Flights to Beppu and Kumamoto 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. Prices start from ¥8000 and increase if you want a nicer room. The ferry is very nice and an experience in itself. There is also a ferry from Tokyo to Fukuoka. Click here for Osaka, or here for Tokyo.

 

The overnight bus is the cheapest option, running from Kyoto and Osaka to Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Beppu, it takes 10 to 12 hours and the price varies from ¥4000 to ¥10,000, with Fukuoka being the cheapest option. Click here for the bus to Fukuoka, here for the bus to Kumamoto, or here for the bus to Beppu.

Maps

Useful links

Weather  and  Seasons

The summer months including June, July, August, and September will give you a lush green landscape perfect for hiking. It can get pretty warm with temperatures averaging around 32°C. Keep an eye on the forecast for possible typhoons, which peak in August and September. There is quite a bit of rain during summer, with June and July receiving the most rainfall. 

 

Autumn provides the most comfortable temperature for hiking, and less rainfall, with the autumn colours reaching their peak around the end of October. Winter hiking is also possible, with snowfall occurring from December to March. 

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The hikes

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Trail Description

Kitadani Trailhead

GPS Hiking Map: outdooractive.com

Time: 5-6 hrs

Distance: 7 km

Elevation change:  700m gain  ➘ 700m loss

From the parking lot, walk up the forest road and in about 1 minute you'll find the trail on your right hand side heading down toward the river. After crossing the river you'll walk through the forest for an hour and eventually reach some ladders and the cave. From here it's only another hour to get to the peak. After the peak it will take about 2.5 hours to loop around and arrive back at the parking lot.

Obira Bus Stop Trailhead

GPS Hiking Map: outdooractive.com

Time: 8 hrs

Distance: 12.5 km

Elevation change: 1250m gain  ➘ 1250m loss

I haven't hiked this trail so can't give much insight, but according to Yamap it will take about 4.5 hours to reach the peak. From the peak, it will take about 3.5 hours to loop around and get back to the bus stop. If you hike this one and have any info you'd like to add, leave a message in the comments below.

Elevation Profile

Kitadani Trailhead

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Obira Bus Stop Trailhead

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Cautions

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Altitude & Weather

Gallery

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