Hiking Distance: 8km
Time: 2 days
Elevation change: ➚750m ➘750m
➚ 750m ➘ 750m
Huts & Campsites
Nishi-Hotaka is a beautiful mountain most commonly accessed from the Shinhotaka ropeway. It features a mountain hut and a ridgeline trail with spectacular views and a variety of terrain. The Shinhotaka Ropeway brings you up to the main trail and is only 90 minutes from the Nishiho mountain hut, it's a great option for people to experience the dramatic peaks of Kamikochi without the usual high level of fitness required. The first peak after reaching the Nishiho hut is called Nishiho-Doppyo, it's a good climb and a popular choice for a day trip. However, the exciting main peak of Nishi-Hotaka includes some rock climbing on exposed and risky terrain, it's a great choice for more experienced hikers, but not really suitable for beginners. Helmets are also recommended for this section.
Although it's common to reach the trail via the Shinhotaka ropeway, it can also be accessed from Kamikochi with a 4 hour hike to the Nishiho mountain hut. There are not many tent sites at the Nishiho hut so it's wise to call ahead and make a reservation.
The Nishiho mountain hut also serves as a good base if you want to extend your hiking into 3 days, a ridgeline connects the hut to the Yakedake volcano.
For those interested in combining this hike with the Oku-Hotaka peak, it's worth noting that the ridgeline between Nishi-Hotaka and Oku-Hotaka is considered the most dangerous traverse in Japan. It should only be attempted by experienced climbers.
Car: If you're catching the cable car from Shinhotaka there are a variety of parking lots, costing around ¥600 per day. You can view the options here.
If you're hiking from Kamikochi, 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.
Shinhotaka Ropeway: For Kyoto and Osaka, there is a direct bus to the Shinhotaka ropeway, you can make reservations here, it's only ¥7500.
Access from Tokyo requires a train to Matsumoto and then 2 busses to get to Shinhotaka, you can read more info here.
Kamikochi Direct Bus: 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.
Note: Kamikochi is closed from 15th Nov to the end of April
GPS map: Shinhotaka Kamikochi
From the Shinhotaka Ropeway
GPS Hiking Map: outdooractive.com
Time: 9 hrs
Distance: 8 km
Elevation change: ➚ 750m gain ➘ 750m loss
After reaching the top of the ropeway, it's only 90 minutes to hike to the Nishiho hut. The approximate roundtrip time from the hut to Nishi-Hotaka is 6 hours. Depending on what time you arrive and the weather conditions you have, you can either hike the Nishi-Hotaka peak on the 1st day or on the 2nd day. Weather conditions can often be better in the early morning, and the sunrise is very beautiful, although it requires a very early start. If you prefer to do all your hiking on the first day, then you can have a relaxing second day with plenty of time to check out the Shinhotaka onsen which is quite nice. If you're hiking Nishi-Hotaka on the second day, you can save some weight by leaving your tent and sleeping gear packed up neatly in a bush around the campsite, and just pick it up on your way back down.
GPS Hiking Map: outdooractive.com
Time: 13 hrs
Elevation change: ➚ 1400m gain ➘ 1400m loss
The route for Kamikochi starts from the Imperial Hotel bus stop, one stop before the Kamikochi bus terminal. From here it will take about 4 hours to reach the Nishiho hut where you'll spend the night. The approximate roundtrip time from the hut to Nishi-Hotaka is 6 hours, and then another 3 hours to get back down to Kamikochi where you began. Unless you're waking up in Kamikochi on the first day, you likely won't have enough time to hike the Nishi-Hotaka peak until the second day. For your second day, you can save some weight by leaving your tent and sleeping gear packed up neatly in a bush around the campsite, then hike the peak, and pick up your gear on the way back down.
Early morning before the sunrise
From Shinhotaka Ropeway
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 May/June. The autumn leaves will be colourful from mid-September to mid-October. Kamikochi is closed during winter, from November to April.
Official Kamikochi Website