Distance: 11.3 km
Elevation change: 557 metres
Highest point: 723 metres
Start: Yaga Station (Gotemba Line)
Finish: Yamakita Station (Gotemba Line)
Low Lying Mountain with Wonderful Fujisan Views
Mt. Ono located in the Tanzawa-Oyama Quasi-National Park is a popular year-round hiking destination. It is suitable for beginners and families with elementary school aged children. In fine weather the broad sunbathed summit offers up a spectacular view of Mt. Fuji. The hike can be undertaken in either direction though moving in a clockwise fashion ensures the best Fujisan views are gotten in the early morning and the gradient is also gentler.
The hike sets out from Yaga Station 谷峨駅 on the Gotemba Line around 90 minutes from Shinjuku. Exit the station turn right and mosey up the street. Go across the highway and look out for the sign Onoyama chikamichi (shortcut) 大野山近道 which passes through some rice fields. After crossing the blue railed suspension bridge turn left and begin meandering up the bitumen. The trailhead proper 大野山ハイキングコース入口 is a 25 minute (1.7 km) walk from Yaga Station. On the whole, the hike is adequately signposted albeit mostly in Japanese though easy enough to follow.
Proceeding through a deer gate which you need to untie and retie the trail cuts across a paved road nearby a bio toilet. From here on the path re-enters the forest along a gentle and easy to walk slope. After a second road crossing and gaining elevation, the view opens out with sweeping unobstructed views of Fujisan. In the autumn Chinese silver grass (Japanese susuki) only adds to the spectacle. Following some animal wood carvings along with a handmade sign at 634 metres (the same height as the Tokyo Skytree), it’s about 100 metres to the top. Closer to the summit signs of the mountain’s former life as a cow breeding ranch become evident with remains of agricultural fencing, ramshackle barns and windbreaks.
On what was an absolutely gorgeous weekend morning I had expected Mt. Ono 大野山 (723 m) to be teeming with hikers though surprisingly there was only a couple of others resting on the rough-hewn benches. Apart from Mt. Fuji, good views can be had of the Tanzawa Mountains, Mt. Hakone, and Izu Oshima Island in Sagami Bay. When you’re ready to head off, keep going on the footpath to the far side of the mountain, past the carpark veering right at the gated road. Here I managed to catch a glimpse of some cows grazing on lush pastures in a fenced off paddock.
The descent to the trailhead on the Yamakita Station 山北駅 side is narrow in places so take care with your footwork. From the summit it’s around an hour to the paved road and a further 50 minutes thereafter through a residential area to reach the station. Unfortunately for myself this wasn’t quite the end of the story. Just before hitting the main road a suzumebachi (Japanese hornet) managed to fly unnoticed straight into my black hoodie. I suspected it was such, and before I could let it loose, it had stung me on the left side of my neck. Hurt like crazy though consider myself fortunate I didn’t go into anaphylaxis. If you have better luck then enjoy a dip at Sakura Hot Spring (400 yen for 2 hours), a public run onsen on the south side of Yamakita Station.