Mt. Tanzawa 丹沢山

Mt. Tanzawa hike

Mt. Tounotake 塔ノ岳 – Mt. Tanzawa 丹沢山 – Mt. Hirugatake 蛭ヶ岳

Duration: 2 days
Distance: 23 km
Difficulty: moderate
Usage/Traffic: moderate
Start: Ookura Bus Stop
Finish: Tono Bus Stop
Map: Yama-to-Kogen 山と高原地図 series 1:50000 [No.28 Tanzawa 丹沢]

Scaling Over the Tanzawa Mountains

The allure of traversing Mt. Tanzawa has beckoned me ever since moving to Kodaira City where on clear winter mornings it’s silhouette is clearly visible from my balcony. Situated within close proximity to Tokyo the Tanzawa-sanchi 丹沢山地 provides ample opportunity for a variety of overnight jaunts. This hike follows the well-worn trail to Mt. Tounotake and includes bagging the highest point on the range Mt. Hirugatake.

Day 1: Bring on baka o-ne Stupid Ridge (10 km)

Getting to the trail head requires taking a train to Shibusawa Station 渋沢駅 on the Odakyu Odawara Line and transferring to a bus for the final leg to Ookura 大倉. Buses depart at 30 minute intervals from the north exit (bus stand no.2) click here. After arriving in Ookura walk up the road for approximately 0.6 km where a sign points towards Mt. Tounotake 塔ノ岳. Colloquially and appropriately named baka o-ne バカ尾根 ‘stupid ridge’ has a fairly benevolent start with little indication of what lays ahead – a 1,300 metre haul!

Due to the paucity of water sources it’s a good idea to pass via the Ookura kougen yama no ie 大倉高原山の家 to top up your water supplies. The property is also adjacent to one of the few permitted camp sites and is a pleasant spot to take in a short breather. Over the next few hours on baka o-ne you will pass a smattering of sansou or mountain cottage’s as you arduously plod onwards and upwards. The Katachi-sansou 花立山荘 makes for a fitting lunch break and provides prodigious views of Mt. Fuji. After filling up on some well-deserved carbs you will find yourself within one hour of summiting Mt. Tounotake. Apart from a sundial and rock cairn marking its highest point, Mt. Tounotake (1,491 m) is barren with only the Sonbutsu-sansou 尊仏山荘 standing prominently. The mountain is also notorious for it’s brutal winds which were doing their best to blow me to the valley below.

From Mt. Tounotake there is a watering hole but necessitates a 30 minute round trip. The final leg across to Mt. Tanzawa 丹沢山 remains on the ridge as it first descends then climbs back up. Unlike the trail up to Mt. Tounotake which attracts a sizeable number of day trippers they gradually peter out and you are mostly left to your own devices. Mt. Tanzawa (1,567 m) in contrast is covered with brush and some gnarled trees with the Miyama-sansou みやま山荘 aptly fitting into its natural surroundings. This sansou is one of the more ‘deluxe’ huts setting you back 5,500 yen a night and 7,000 yen including dinner and breakfast. Unlike some other mountain cottages it isn’t necessary to bring along your own bedding.

Day 2: Bagging Mt. Hirugatake (13 km)

After the lights being unceremoniously switched off at 20:30 the wake up chorus begins in earnest at 05:00 the next morning. The meals are basic though are packed with sufficient calories to ensure you have enough stamina for another day on the trail. After a restful night sleep most of us were back on the trail not long after 06:00. Muscle soreness was quickly forgotten as the 3.5 km slog to Mt. Hirugatake 蛭ヶ岳 (1,673 m) commenced. The clear mountain air provided some good snaps of Mt. Fuji and the surrounding landscape. The last push up Mt. Hirugatake was by far the hardest though the solitude of being alone at the summit was worth the effort.

The next section across to hime-tsugi 姫次 entails ambling across pathways with sets of wooden stairs designed with the environment in mind. Apart for one section the trail is easy to navigate and eventually opens out at hime-tsugi where some purpose built tables provide a good resting site. The goal for lunch was to reach the Hinankoya mountain hut 黍殻山避難小屋 an emergency shelter with a clearing and toilet amenities.

After lunch it’s another rather long and steep decent taking around two hours to reach the Tono bus stop 東野バス停. It’s a good idea to check the bus timetable before leaving on the second day as buses tend to run very infrequently on this route. Upon exiting onto the road you pass by a locked gate and follow several signs pointing you towards the bus stop. It is also worth noting that two buses are required to get back to Fujino Station 藤野駅 on the Chuo Main Line though you shouldn’t have to wait long for the connecting bus.


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  • Dear David,
    My family of 5 (husband, myself, and 3 children aged 21, 18 and 14) will be on Honshu Island from Nov 30 to December 14, We are hoping to do some hiking and would really appreciate any advice you could give us. We are interested in doing the Tanzawa Traverse and possibly Amiga-san Traverse or Mitsu-toge Yama whilst in the Tokyo region, and then we are hoping to hike around the Matsumoto and Kiso Valley, and possibly parts of the Kumano Kodo Trail. However, we are wondering whether there are places we could base ourselves in to do hikes in each of the 3 areas. For example, when we were in Tasmania and New Zealand, we stayed at places like Cradle Mountain Resort and Tongariro Crossing, and New Plymouth and used them as bases to do day hikes in those areas. Where would be a good place to base ourselves for the hikes in the Tokyo region?
    Also, if we ended up having time for only one hike, which of the three (Tanzawa Traverse, Amiga-san Traverse and Mitsu-toge Yama) do you think is the most scenic?
    Thanks, David! Appreciate any advice from you.

    • Hi Lyn,
      Sounds like you have some great hiking adventures planned. First thing to consider is late November most peaks over 1,500 metres will likely have some snow cover and without light crampons I would be limiting your hikes to under 2,000 metres. Personally I would recommend either the Mt. Tanzawa traverse (2 days) or Mitsutoge which can be done as a day trip. As where to base yourself between hikes it’s a little more complicated as Japan doesn’t really have some type of resort networks. The hikes you mention are also pretty spread out so it’s not practical to remain parked in one location. For Amagi san I would probably stay around Hakone (a beautiful place to visit) or Atami. Around Lake Kawaguchiko there are plenty of tourist hotels near Mitsutoge. In the first instance I would be seeking out a hotel on the outskirts of Tokyo such as Hachioji which is a good staging point to any of the hikes you mention. All the best for your trip 😉

      • Hi David,
        Thanks so much for replying so fast. And thanks for your advice on the impracticability of trying to find one location for the different hikes! It had appeared that way to me but it’s good to be able to confirm that. We will most likely do the Tanzawa Traverse over 2 days, and stay in one of the huts as we’ve never experienced staying in a hut before. I had read somewhere but can’t seem to locate where now that it is more scenic to start from the Minoge end, to Yabitsu-toge, to To-no-take, ,and then to Tanzawa-san, Hiru-ga-take and on to the end at Nishi Tanzawa Shizen Kyoshitsu, instead of starting from Okura. The person said that the way from Okura went through bush/forest with little access to views. Would you be able to advice on whether this route has any advantages over starting from Okura to To-no-take?
        Also, I read your post on Nishizawa Gorge. It sounds beautiful, but I gather it would take 2 and a half hours to travel to the start point from Shinjuku Station. Would early December (around Dec 3) be too late for autumn colours, past on last year?
        Once again, your advice would be much appreciated.

      • Hi Lyn,
        As I haven’t hiked the trail from Minoge through Yabitsu toge I can’t really comment, though could be an alternative as the hike from Okura is quite long and brutal. While the first leg from Okura to To-no-take remains mostly hemmed in, views of Mt. Fuji are definitely possible and also back towards the Sagami Bay area. As for Nishizawa Gorge the peak time for autumn foliage viewing is mid to late November so by early December it’s probably not an ideal time to visit.

      • Hi David,
        Many thanks for your advice. We hope to do both the Mitsu-toge Yama and the Tanzawa Traverse hikes, and will look more into whether or not to take the alternative route for the Tanzawa Traverse. We hope to stay overnight at Miyama Sansou. How long did it take you to go from Okura to Miyama Sansou? Thanks once again!

      • The Miyama Sansou is quite a lovely place to stay though note an advance reservation is necessary. From Okura to Miyama Sansou it takes around 5-6 hours including a lunch break.

      • Hi David,
        We have acted on your advice on Miyama Sansou and have made an advance reservation with Miyama Sansou with the help of a Japanese friend! Really appreciate your taking the time to respond to my queries. I have enjoyed reading your posts!

        Thanks once again,

  • Nice work. Thanks for posting this. I’ve been looking for this type of good information. I’m often in Tanzawa but I’m a little worried to venture out too far without good maps. Only Nishi-tanzawa area (wellcamp) and Tonodake are my stomping grounds. This gives me motivation. I will try. Appreciate it.

    • Good to hear the information has come in handy. Your right carrying an up to date map is essential especially around Tawazawa with trails leading off in every direction. Best of luck with your future adventures on the Tanzawa-sanchi.

  • David;

    Is there any place to do some camping here away from the trail and not at the trail-house? I don’t mind paying the money but it seems really hard to find places to camp in this area of Japan!

    • Jacob, the only official place to camp is at the Ookura kougen yama house which is around a 40 minute walk from the Ookura bus stop. Unofficially there is a flat open area at the Hinankoya mountain hut with a water hole nearby. If you decide to wild camp elsewhere your biggest impediment is going to be finding reliable places to fill up unless you’re prepared to carry it in yourself. In the past there was a campsite between Mt. Tanzawa and Mt. Hirugatake but due to impacts on soil and vegetation it is no longer permitted.

  • I just got home from doing this hike. What a great hike! Yesterday’s hike up to Tanzawa was long and difficult. The overnight stay at the Miyama Sensou was nice; the people were great and the food was much better than I expected. I was certain that I’d be fed cheap ramen, but to my surprise I was given a very nice meal of roast duck (yes duck!) rice, soup, pickles, etc. Very tasty! Breakfast was also good.

    One thing to note to anyone going here: there is no running water. Bring hand sanitizer or extra water if you want to wash up or brush your teeth.

    This morning from Mt. Tanzawa I followed the trail up to Hirugatake. Lots of steps. Slow going but overall very enjoyable. The views were spectacular. From Hirugatake onwards was slightly precarious with bits of ice and mud. I really could have used some trekking poles. The descent was long and painful for me. I find descents harder than climbs.

    After exiting the trail onto the road I saw the signs pointing to the bus stop; it was easy, until the signs just stopped. I had to flag down a driver who pointed me in the right direction. I got to the bus stop but had no idea I was there. I stopped in the store across the street and asked where the bus stop was and she pointed to the stop. As I was walking over the bus passed. I couldn’t read the kanji fast enough to be certain it was the right bus. I figured I’d wait for the next one. I got to the schedule and realized I don’t read enough Japanese to make any sense of it. I took pics and sent them to my Japanese wife. Turns out waiting for the bus and then the train would’ve had me home around 7 PM. She drove out and picked me up.

    Perhaps if you know enough Japanese to work the bus then this trip could be great. I think next time I’ll do what some friends I made on the trip did. They started at Ookura and hiked to to the Miyama Sensou. The next day they hiked over to Hirugatake, had breakfast there, and then returned all the way back to Ookura. I think this trip makes more sense because the buses to Ookura are frequent, and the bus stop at Ookura is more substantial with a restaurant or two. It’s a more pleasant place to wait for a bus.

    Thanks so much for your blog! I’ll post a link to a photo album I made of the trek later tonight.

    • David it sounds like you had an awesome hike. Though I’m not a big fan of mountain huts the Miyama-sansou is one which stood out, and roast duck for dinner incredible! They really have gone up market. In respect to locating the bus stop, I also remembering having much the same problem and had to ask for directions as I was about to follow the wrong road. The actual bus stop is kind of obscure and hadn’t realized at the time you have to catch two buses to Fujino Station. Again great to hear the trail notes were helpful and look forward to checking out some of your trail pics.

    • Loved the photos David especially Mt. Fuji with it’s cloud cap! Looks like you scored some fine weather. It brought back memories with that hard slog up to Mt. Tanzawa and those equally interminable wooden steps heading down from Mt. Hirogatake. Thanks again for sharing and hopefully it will spur you on to try some other overnight hikes.

      • Yeah, I’ll do other hikes as well. After being up there and studying the maps there, I have a lot more confidence and think I can manage just fine. I have this crazy idea to camp out somewhere along the way. I have a hammock and spotted so many places that would work, especially the pine forrest at the end of the hike.

  • Hi David,
    great blog, great inspiration for me, especially for solo hiking.
    I wonder if you think is possible to hike Tanzawa and back to Shibusawa in one day. I’m not a big fan of yamagoya and prefer to pitch a tent but from what i’ve read there is no “official” camp site on this trail. I got a map (bough from IC sport) of the entire area and even going after Tanzawa there are only huts.

    • Hey Riccardo thanks for the kudos, I really appreciate it and for getting in touch. I completely understand where you’re coming from regarding mountain lodges. Unfortunately for us, Mt. Tanzawa is one of the few mountains where there isn’t much else of a choice. A one-day return hike starting and finishing at Shibusawa would perhaps be a bridge too far unless your fitness level is fairly high as you’re looking at around 7.5 hours actual walking time excluding rest stops, also the scramble up Baka ridge is quite brutal. Personally if you’re intent on doing it in a day, a far better plan would be to set up your tent at the unofficial Ookura kougen camp site about 40-minutes from the bus stop so you wouldn’t have to rush back for the last bus. There is also a toilet and a reliable water source at this hut. This approach is often used by those hoping to catch the first sunrise from Tounotake on New Year’s day.


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