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A Blog about Hokkaido, Photography and other interesting things out there.

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Climbing Fukushima’s Mount Bandai

In the beginning of May 2019, I climbed Mount Bandai with a friend from the Photography Club of Tohoku University (東北大学学友会写真部). We rented a car in the morning and drove to the foot of Mount Bandai from Sendai, which took about 2h using the high way.

The weather was beautiful and no other cars were parked at the trail head – probably because the hiking season was only just about to start in Japan.

This time around, I only took a film camera along.

The beginning of the climb was through a ski area which was hardly exciting atall, however we quickly reached the Red Swamp (赤沼), now a lake infront of Mount Bandai.

The trail was well built out although still wet from the melting snow.

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A Quick Hike Up Sendai’s Izumigatake

Izumigatake (泉ヶ岳) is the Hausberg (local mountain) of Sendai. Actually, there are two – namely Mt Taihaku (太白山) but its elevation is with 320.7m much lower. The main peak of Izumigatake is 1172m high while the north peak (北泉ヶ岳) rises 1253m over sea level.

The main building of the Izumidake Nature Centre

Izumigatake boasts a smallish ski area and at the foot of the mountain a Nature Exhibition Centre. You can camp there, do BBQ or inform yourself about the nature in the region. The best part about the Centre is though, that a bus goes straight to it four times per day from Izumichuo Station (泉中央駅). You can see the bus schedule from Izumichuo Station to Izumidake Shizen Fureai-kan (泉岳自然ふれあい館) here and the bus schedule from the Nature Centre back to Izumichuo Station here. The bus ride takes about 50mins and costs 720jpy one way as of April 2019. The website of Izumidake Shizen Fureai-kan (泉岳自然ふれあい館) can be found here.

Izumigatake trail head
The trail head of the hike up Izumigatake

The there are multiple trails up the mountain but the main course up Izumigatake is called Sujin course (水神コース) and from the trail head its about 3.7km and 630m in elevation change to the summit.

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A Winter Trip to Aomori: Mount Hakkoda & Lake Towada

This is part 2 of 2 of a blog post about a trip to Aomori prefecture in the winter. See part one here: link. Winter in Aomori means lots an lots of snow, during the three days there we visited the Hirosaki Snow Lantern Festival (previous post), Mount Hakkoda, Lake Towada and Mount Hakkoda again! Find out more below…

After clearing the streets of snow, it has to be taken somewhere…

The weather was luckily completely clear on the next day, without any snowfall – yet. Or at least around Hirosaki city.

Driving towards the mountains

As soon as we slowly closed in on the foot of Mount Hakkoda, snow was starting to pile up again. The streets were bordered by huge walls of snow.

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A winter trip to Aomori: Hirosaki Snow Lantern Festival

In February 2019 a teamed up with a long time friend over a long weekend (3 days and 2 nights), which are very common in Japan, to visit the prefecture Aomori. Aomori is the northern most prefecture of Japan on the main island and is famous for getting the most snow in winter. The main objectives were the Hirosaki Snow Lantern Festival and the Lake Towada with the neighbouring mountain Hakkoda.

Warm water sprinklers on a 7-11 convenience store parking lot to hopelessly try to keep the ice at bay

In fact, the worlds snowiest city is located in Aomori. To get around the prefecture we rented a car for the three days we spent there.

The Tsugaru stove train platform

We drove to the city of Tsugaru (つがる市) first to ride a stove train. Basically a normal train where food (usually fish) is sold on the train and the carriages have small stoves where you can roast it on.

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Climbing Mt Kita and Mt Aino (Minami Alps) in Early October

At the beginning of October 2018 I decided to climb Mt Kita (Kitadake/北岳) in the Southern Alps (Minami Alps/南アルプス) in Japan. Mt Kita is the 2nd highest moutain in Japan after Mt Fuji (富士山) at 3193m with a prominence of 2239m. Thus, it is famous for being the “highest viewing point of Mt Fuji (富士山)”.

I took the last train from Shinjuku, Tokyo (新宿) to Kofu (甲府市), the capital of Yamanashi Prefecture (山梨県). From Kofu station (甲府駅), a mountain climbing bus leaves at 04:25am (2050jpy one way) towards the trail head to MtKita (北岳). I looked for a place to sleep for a little while and ended up going to a karaoke box next to the station, which was good enough. There is a coin locker at Kofu station which doesn’t get locked down, so I stored a couple of things there, which I wouldn’t need for the climb. Fittingly, there was a 24h music challenge going on at the station, where a group played music for 24h straight.

However, many people were just sleeping in the station, or actually right in-front of the bus stop…! To be first in line?

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Traversing Mt Iwate in November (Yakehashiri to Matsukawa Onsen)

After having looked into climbing Mt Iwate previously, I kind of spontaneously decided Thursday that it’s going to happen on Friday (2nd November 2018), after having seen the stellar weather forecast.

I left Sendai station (仙台駅) at 19:19towards Morioka station (盛岡駅), the capital of Iwate-ken (岩手県). There I bought some last food (onigiri of course) and a cup at Daiso before boarding the bus A52 at 20:47 towards Obuke station (大更駅). The plan was to arrive at Obuke, hang around and then walk towards the Yakehashiri Trail Head (焼け走り登山口), map

However, as I was looking at Google maps while on the bus, I decided on a whim to get off at a stop which was a lot closer to the trail head, called Sankorin (参考林). It was basically in the middle of nowhere but there was a FamilyMart close by, where I could spend time until leaving for Mt Iwate.

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Yaridaira over Mt Okumaru to Shinhotaka Onsen: Hiking the Kita Alps part 3

This post is the 3rd out of 3 about traversing the Japanese Northern Alps (北アルプス). Henceforth, I will describe the trek from Yaridaira (槍平小屋) over Mt Okumaru (奥丸山) to Shinhotaka Onsen (新穂高温泉). For part 1 from Kamikochi (上高地) to Yarigatake (槍ヶ岳) klick here, for part 2 from Yarigatake (槍ヶ岳) to Yaridaira Hut (槍平小屋) klick here.


Starting off at Yaridaira Camping Ground (槍平キャンプ場), the sunrise was kind of a letdown because by the time the sun came up, it had already been bright daylight for at least 1.5 hours. Nevertheless, after some coffe it was time to pack up and go. The tent was decidedly wet because the camp ground is located right next to a river.


The plan was to hike up to Mt Okumaru which is on the chain of mountains right opposite (west) of Yarigatake (槍ヶ岳) – Hotakadake (穂高岳). Then, walk along the ridge to get one last good view of Mt Hotaka and then descend into the western valley where Wasabi Hut (ワサビ平小屋) is located. From there, walk the road down all the way to Shinhotaka Onsen (新穂高温泉) from where a bus would take us back to our car at the parking lot.

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