Hiking in Kamikōchi - The Japanese Alps: Mt. Yake (焼岳) - Vikingess Voyages

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Hiking in Kamikōchi - The Japanese Alps: Mt. Yake (焼岳)

Getting closer to the mountain
Although Japan might be most known for its major metropolitan areas like Tokyo there are also mountainous areas such as the so-called Japanese Alps on the main island Honshū. I've already visited the Japanese alps once this year, as Yuma and I climbed Mt. Chōgatake (蝶ヶ岳) in July. This time our goal was the summit of Mt. Yake (/Yakedake 焼岳), which actually is an active volcano and listed as one of Japan's 100 most famous mountains (百名山). We left Tokyo early Saturday morning with the bus from Shinjuku, and reached Nagano's Matsumoto city at 9 am. This time Yuma's father also joined us for the hike from Matsumoto, and together we took a taxi to the trail entrance and began the hike (although I would recommend taking the train from Matsumoto rather than a taxi. You can't go all the way to Kamikochi by train, but taking the taxi form Matsumoto takes about an hour and is thus sliiightly expensive..).

Autumn is on its way here in Japan, and as we walked through the green forest we could see a gradual increase in trees with red leaves. This phenomenon is known as kōyō (紅葉) in Japanese, a word that literarily means "red leaves". In October and November, the leaves of among others the blood maples turn red, and this time of the year is therefore widely regarded the kōyō-season in Japan. 
Japanese Kouyou (紅葉)
Beautiful autumn colours
Enjoying the view from Mt. Yake
As Mt. Yake actually is an active volcano it has been restricted for the public until a couple of years ago. This was my first time coming this close to a crater, so it was quite cool to be there. Although it was rather cloudy when we reached the crater, we could still glimpse a pond on the bottom on its left side.
The crater of Mt. Yake to the right
Above the clouds
After the short stop by the crater we continued towards the top, and on the way we passed a couple of small holes in the volcano stone where white smoke was steaming out. The ground around the holes was yellow, an the air smelled like rotten eggs. An interesting sight..
Mr. Handsome at the summit of Mt. Yake :3
Our hiking team!
On top of a "cloud ocean" (雲海)
After reaching the summit of Mt. Yaki we continued our journey down to the nearby Yakidake where we spent the night in a yamagoya (山小屋:mountain hut).
A small mountain hut at Mt Yakidake where we spent the night
Up early for the sunrise
In the morning we got up early and enjoyed the sunrise (although another mountain kinda stood in the way for the view). I've added some more colourful pictures taken in the early morning hours:
A withered tree on Mt. Yake
Total relaxation away from the city.. 
Beautiful scenery again
Father & son enjoying hiking together ^^
A red kouyou tree among all the green
Back in Kamikochi where we started our last hike in July
It sure is refreshing going out from Tokyo once in a while and into the wilderness. I always notice my stress level drops when I get into the forest and can smell the clean air. Now it's time to try and plant some of the seeds I found in the mountain. I wonder if they'll actually grow.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy your weekend! :D

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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