Hiking to Mt Kurodake and beyond

As I mentioned earlier, one of the main reasons people come to Sounkyo is for the hiking; and hiking Mt Kurodake in particular. Of course we were going to take things a little bit further, but the day started with us catching the ropeway up the side of the Sounkyo gorge, where we had an incredible view all the way up and down the gorge, while also getting a closer look at Mt Kurodake in the distance.

Due to the slightly warmer conditions, the leaves at these lower elevations have only just started turning colours recently so it was mainly a sea of green all the way up to the first station. We then transferred over to a cable car to take us a little further up the mountainside. Very peaceful, slowly being carried along only a couple of metres above the ground. Trying to jump off at the end without getting dragged along the platform was a bit chaotic, but we managed ok!

After a brief stop to register our details in the hiking log, we started up the path with a host of other tourists. As we ascended you could see the reds, yellows and oranges in the leaves becoming more and more noticeable. The only real comparison in Australia is the fagus in Tasmania as far as I’m aware (besides non-natives of course), but you certainly don’t get the amount of vegetation that they get here in Japan.

On a side note, there must be something in the food or water over here that keeps the locals spritely well into their old age. As we got higher and higher (on a very steep and rocky track) we kept passing, or getting passed by, Japanese in their 60s and 70s. Later in the day we had a closer look at the hiking log and noticed there were plenty in their 70s completing the hike, with oldest being 78! All I can say is I hope I’m that chipper at that age!

After about an hour we got to the top where we were greeted by incredible views back down towards Sounkyo and also over to the volcanic landscape to the west. It was quite eerie with thick mists getting swiftly blown up and over the mountain, causing the surrounding mountains and valleys to randomly appear and disappear the whole time!

We then pushed on towards the west, down to the Mt Kurodake  hut where we took the northern track towards Mt Mamiya. Unfortunately, as we had to make it back to the ropeway by 4:30pm we knew we wouldn’t have enough time to do the full loop around the valley, so we turned back a little bit before the turn off to Mt Hokuchin and made our way back to Mt Kurodake and down the mountain to the ropeway.

Of course, while at the summit of Mt Kurodake we had to pose for a photo…

It was an amazing day and more than lived up to our expectations!

We were hoping to do some hiking tomorrow from Ginsendai down to Sounkyo, but it looks like the buses stopped running last week, so no luck there. We’ll probably do a couple of shorter walks near Sounkyo instead.


  1. Hi Andrew, just wondering what the temperature was like up on the peak? My wife and I are planning to go up around the 10th of Oct and wondering how cold we need to pack for.

    1. Hi there, thanks for dropping by!

      It was sunny but quite cool while we were there, and from what I heard the first snow of the season arrived only a couple of weeks after we left (late October I guess?).

      After you get to the peak you’ll be quite warm from all the climbing (we were in t-shirts from memory, even though it was probably around 5 degrees celsius), but once you stop you’ll cool down REALLY quickly! As you can see from the last image we put on a windproof jacket each and we were fine. I think I may have been wearing thermal pants under my hiking pants as well.

      Just remember though, the weather can change really quickly, so in total I’d be packing/wearing a thermal shirt, thermal pants, hiking pants, t-shirt or long-sleeved shirt, windproof jacket and a fleece jumper.

      I’m so jealous that you get to go and see the incredible scenery!! Of all the places in Japan that was our absolute favourite!


  2. When I think of Japan I don’t normally think of it in terms of hiking. Now, seeing your photos, I will not be able to forget the landscape that you have captured. The colours are amazing.

    1. Thanks Natala! We didn’t either until we started looking more closely at the various regions of the country. So glad we’ve chosen to spend as long as we have here!

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