Distance: 9.8 km
Elevation change: 695 metres
Highest point: 1256 metres
Start: Higashi-Katsura Station (Fujikyuko Line)
Finish: Kotobuki Station (Fujikyuko Line)
Kuramiyama Punches Above its Weight
Mount Kurami, nestled between Mt. Shakushi and Mt. Mitsutoge, is a hidden gem and arguably should have a place among Yamanashi’s top 100 mountains. While offering fine views of Mount Fuji and providing a beginner-friendly hiking experience, Kuramiyama is often overlooked in comparison to its more famous neighbours. Thanks to its close proximity to the Fujikyuko Line, both the starting and ending trailheads are conveniently accessible on foot. It is highly recommended for those who wish to escape the hustle and bustle of more popular mountains.
The starting point is Higashi-Katsura Station 東桂駅 on the Fujikyuko Line. Transfer to the Fujikyuko Line at Otsuki Station (27 minutes and 650 yen). It is also possible to commence the climb from Mitsutoge Station, one station further along. My only regret on this hike was not starting from Kotobuki Station, the endpoint, as there are better morning views of Fujisan from this approach. From the ticket gate, proceed straight to the main road, turn right, and then left at the road leading to the ‘Sun Park Tsuru’ grass ski park. The trailhead begins at a deer gate located at the back of a cemetery, approximately a 20-minute walk south of the station.
The trail wastes no time, immediately ascending a steep gradient, allowing for a rapid gain in elevation. The hike overall is well-marked and easy to follow, though in some places, dead leaves underfoot made it challenging to discern the path. After reaching the gentle ridgeline, the first landmark is the high-voltage power lines, which you arrive at after about 30 minutes. Intermittent views towards Mt. Mitsutoge and Mt. Gangaharasuri can be enjoyed to your right. Around 1,000 metres, the first signs of snow from the previous day appeared and had accumulated to around 5 centimetres in some areas.
Continuing along the ridge, disregard the trail branch for Mitsutoge Station and proceed to reach Mt. Kurami 倉見山 (1,256 m). The final ascent to the summit, supported by ropes, is notably steep and slippery, made worse by a combination of mud and snow. From the summit, grand views unfold, including Mt. Fuji, the mountains of Okuchichibu and Okutama, as well as the Southern Alps. Additionally, you’ll notice an odd-looking 火の用心 ‘fire prevention doll’ tied to a branch.
For the return journey, several options are available: you can retrace your steps, turn left at the fork, and descend to Mitsutoge Station, or you can choose to descend from the summit towards the Mt. Fuji side, as was done on this occasion. After savouring the view, the trail follows a narrow ridge south to a trail branch at Sojogamine 相定ヶ峰. Here, you have the opportunity to traverse to Mt. Shakushi via Mukahara Pass if you’re seeking something longer. Alternatively, you can skip this and continue towards Kotobuki Station 寿駅. Along the way, there are openings in the tree canopy that provide excellent vantage points.
Compared to the way up, the descent is more gradual, featuring few steep sections and making it significantly easier. Upon reaching Dooyama Park 堂尾山公園, the landscape opens up once again. A pavilion that once stood here has since been demolished. The trail concludes at a metal staircase, from which it’s a further 15-minute walk to Kotobuki Station 寿駅.