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.

After about 400m of climbing (at 1300m), we reached an abandoned onsen called Naka no Yu (中の湯). It was abandoned around 1995 and the wooden building is incorresponding shape. However, as it’s a natural onsen, the hot water is still gushing out and thus it can still be used, especially as a foot bath (足の湯).

On the way to the top, we still had to cross a few snowfields, but nothing out of the ordinary or exposed.

Just before turning right towards the summit, we had to cross a slightly exposed but very short ridge, which for one looks a bit more scary on the picture than in reality!

View of the summit approach which was still mostly covered in very shallow snow.

Even though it was only the start of the season, an elderly couple was already operating their welcoming small hut below the summit. Even though they carry everything up by themselves it was very reasonably priced.

Looking north from the summit (roughly towards the car park), you can see that Mount Bandai (a vulcano) consists of mostly clay-y ground, which gets very slippery when wet.

Meet Rui from the Photography club, enjoying some hot cup noodles on the summit.

The summit also has a small emergency shelter hut in case the weather suddenly takes a turn for the worse at 1816m.

After descending from the summit, we decided to turn right at the small hut instead of left where we originally came from to take a different trail back.
The views were remarkable.

The contrast between the brown-red clay and the green trees in the distance was superb.

Looking back at the summit of Mount Bandai to the very left.

On some parts of the trail, small bumps in the clay seem to have formed which we couldn’t explain to ourselves, perhaps the excess soil got blown off by winds?

While descending, the sun started to set and the light became even more beautiful, bathing everything in a soft, warm light. That of course meant we took even more pictures and descended even slower.

A little creek formed from the snow melting up in the mountains.

Now, being close to the trees the colour contrast was even more apparent.

The hike blew all expectations we had going into it, as the landscape around Mount Bandai is very diverse. From the abandoned Onsen when going up, a couple of snowfields with sharp rocks and a completely different landscape out of clay when coming back down.

We arrived at the ski area next to the car park only after the sun had already set. After phoning the car rental company asking them to extend our rental period until the next day, we headed off…

To an onsen of course, which is essential after going hiking in Japan!

The onsen we went to, Kaori no Yu (香の湯) was equipped with a beautiful tea room.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, I am more than happy to answer them :)