Mt.Kinpu (金峰山) is a rocky summit found in the borders of Nagano and Yamanashi prefectures. At 2599MASL this mountain is the tallest among the Okuchichibu Mountains (奥秩父山塊) that belong to the Hyakumeizan (日本百名山) or the 100 Famous Mountains of Japan.
If travelling by public transport, the mountain can be approached either from the west via Mizugakisansou (瑞牆山荘) and the Fujimidaira Hut (富士見平小屋), or doing a traverse from Mt.Kobushi (甲武信ヶ岳) from the east via the Nishizawa Valley (西沢渓谷). RidgelineImages has a post containing lots of information with regards to the latter approach. In Nirasaki station (韮崎駅), take the bus bound for Mizugakisansou. Camping is not allowed in this area so you need to hike up for 50-minutes to reach Fujimidaira Hut where you can pitch your tents for 1000Yen. Since the first bus arrived at the trail head at around 10:15AM, I had ample time to walk to the campsite and have an early lunch before attacking the summit in the afternoon. Also, there is a water source just beside the hut. Along the way to the hut, I saw Mt.Mizugaki’s crown of rocks, daring me to climb her at once, but she would have to wait until the next day. See this post for my Mt.Mizugaki hike on the following day.
After pitching my tent and devouring my sandwich, I left my camping gear behind and prepared a day-pack of water, snacks, crampons, rain gear and a headlamp (in case it gets dark) for a 5-6 hour round trip towards Mt.Kinpu around 12:00 noon. The first section of the trail is a straightforward ascent towards Dainichi hut (大日小屋) where you will have your last water source. If hiking in the summer, it would be smart to top-up your water supplies here as the succeeding sections of the trail involve lots of uphills. The ridge just before the summit is also very exposed to the sun, so I can only imagine how hot it would be in the summer! It takes around 30-minutes from the hut to reach a massive, gigantic boulder called Dainichi-iwa (大日岩). I did this hike in Golden Week 2015 and there was still lots of snow and ice on the next section of the trail. So with my crampons on, I continued ascending for about 1 hour up to around 2400MASL where I was greeted by a beautiful ridge leading to the rocky peak. I took off my crampons and carefully traversed the ridge to finally reach the summit.
Taking the same trail, I returned to the campsite at 05:00PM where I had a can of beer as I waited for the sun to set behind the snow capped Yatsugatake mountains (八ヶ岳). As the sun already sets this time of the year (around 06:30PM in GW 2015), I had lots of time to cook dinner and share a drink with a neighboring tent.
To get to Nirasaki station, take the Chuo Main Line bound for Matsumoto (ちゅお本線、松本行き). From Nirasaki station, take this bus bound for the trail head at Mizugakisansou for around 2000Yen. This hike can be done year-round as long as you have proper winter equipment especially on the ridge leading to Mt.Kinpu’s summit. Alternatively, other hikers do Mt.Mizugaki first and hike Mt.Kinpu the next day, then catching the last bus for Nirasaki station. Climbing Mt.Kinpu before Mt.Mizugaki gave me more time for an onsen dip in the morning by taking the first bus and getting back home early in the afternoon. For this hike, I bought the Mapple #25 Yamatokougenchizu map (山と高原地図) at a local bookstore. Both Mizugaki and Kinpu can be done as a day-hike but this means having to start very early and driving to the trail head.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
- Mt.Kinpu (金峰山 2599MASL)
- Mt.Mizugaki (瑞牆山 2230MASL)