Mt. Hinokiboramaru (1600m) is a couple of mountain peaks 10km’s west of Mt. Tanzawa (1550m), one of the so-called 100 famous mountains in Japan.

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Hinokiboramura left and Tanzawa far right

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On a recent trip to the Mont-Bell store to buy some new hiking boots, the man in the store recommended this mountain as a good one day hike as it apparently had some flowers in bloom near the summit and would be a good place to test out the new boots.  Though I was not really interested in the flowers as much as I was testing out the boots. Hey, I’m a guy. I chop down trees and stuff, not smell flowers!

We usually hike grades of anywhere between 8-12%, not out of conscious choice, just because those are the mountains we happened to hike.

Hinokiboramaru on the route we chose had an average grade of 18.5% from trailhead to peak, but the main meat of the hike runs on a 24.3% grade over 3km’s which felt more like 45% to be honest.

It’s mostly a typical trail with a lot of loose rock.  Elevation change was 1135m.

© Steven West | Photographer in Japan
GPS track of the hike

We started from Ashigarakami Nature Reserve and from there it’s a short walk to the trailhead.  The nature reserve only has parking for about 10 cars and I was concerned we were not going to be able to park anywhere nearby but you can actually park along the road next to the tree-line leading up to the reserve.  In fact we got lucky as there was one space left that apparently nobody wanted because of a bunch of boulders in the middle of it that couldn’t be moved.  No prob for the Jeep, backed right in and laced up the new shoes.

© Steven West | Photographer in Japan
Looking forward to trying out the new boots.
© Steven West | Photographer in Japan
View from the road on the way to the trailhead
© Steven West | Photographer in Japan
At the trailhead.  (My wife’s Nikon point and shoot makes highlights look like snow)

About 2km into the hike from the actual trailhead there’s a nice fast flowing river and waterfalls – I would have been happy to stop and stay here all day and in fact, had I known how hard the hike was going to be, I would have!

© Steven West | Photographer in Japan
A river 2km into the hike

Great views of Mt. Fuji about two-thirds of the way up where the flowers were in bloom too.

© Steven West | Photographer in Japan
Mt. Fuji from the trail
© Steven West | Photographer in Japan
Mt. Fuji and flowers
© Steven West | Photographer in Japan
More flowers!
© Steven West | Photographer in Japan
Very scenic and lush trail near the summit with perfect conditions

I’m pretty sure we were among the last people up to the peak on this day.  Rested for about 45 minutes, had some lunch and with only a few hours daylight left, the hardest part of the hike, the steep hike back down, was still ahead of us.

© Steven West | Photographer in Japan
Lunch on summit
© Steven West | Photographer in Japan
I love the new boots, but couldn’t wait to get them off!

My dog goes up mountains like a champ.  Really not bad for a short legged breed about the same age as me in human years.  I’m always so proud of her.  In fact, the only part she had problems with was the wooden boardwalk near the summit that runs over some plants to protect them and whatever.  There’s gaps in the wood and her little feet slip through sometimes and so she walks on these planks with her toes clenched and nails dug into the wood!

It was 3pm when we left and I knew it was going to take 3 or 4 hours to get down and since we had no headlamps, my main concern was getting down to the road before it got too dark to navigate.

Without a doubt this was the most demanding hike we’ve done so far.  There were old folk in the sixties and seventies that I felt sure we would catch up with and pass on the way down, but we never did. They had obviously been air-lifted off of the mountain!  These elderly people you see on the mountains here just walk up and down these grades like they’re  strolling aisles in a supermarket!  It really made me realise we need to bring our pace up to at least a constant 2.5kmph if we are going to cover a decent amount of ground on day hikes.

My dog immediately did her thing where she would just stop, look up and me and my rucksack and telepathically communicate to me that there was absolutely enough room for her in my rucksack if I moved a few things around and well, best not to argue with a telepathic dog so that’s what happened.

© Steven West | Photographer in Japan
The hard part – coming back down. Trail is typically like this for 3km.

We huffed and puffed our way down and made it to the road just as the last of the light gave way to the darkness.  It was pitch black when we got back to the car.

Definitely will be packing head-lamps regardless of the type of hike next time.


If you want to learn more about Japans hidden gems and places you can enjoy from beaches to mountains, cities to backstreets, join my journey on my Facebook fan page because it’s chock full of rarely known incredible places to explore!