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Mt. Chokai: Round Trip from Hokotate

A Splendid Solitary Peak and its Ethereal Mountain Lake.
  • Duration
    2Days / 11.5Hours
    Highest Point
    2236m
    Elevation Gain
    1078m
  • Skill Level
    Fitness Level
    Gear Level

Located on the border of Akita and Yamagata prefectures, this stand-alone mountain faces the Sea of Japan. It's the Tohoku region's second highest peak after Mt. Hiuchiga-take and has been selected as one of Japan's 100 most famous mountains .
The foot of this beautiful peak extends all around and has earned it the nickname of "Dewa Fuji." People living there have long considered it sacred.
There are nine trailheads providing access to Mt. Chokai (Chohkai-san). Here we showcase a route starting at a relatively high elevation from the easily accessible Hokotate Trailhead.

Start walking the path from Hokotate. You'll reach a lookout with a view of Mt. Chokai towering at the end of a deep valley. Follow stone steps through a meadow, and once you pass an open area known as Saino-kawara, the trail will turn to scree. In about two hours you'll arrive at the Ohama-koya mountain hut with its shrine. The hut overlooks the lovely Lake Chokai caldera, and you’ll reach it after about a 100-meter descent along the crater wall.

About an hour from Ohama-koya you'll reach Sennin-daira. The surrounding area is an expansive wetland, and the alpine plants that bloom there are beautiful from July to August. Return the way you came, and you'll reach Ohama-koya in about 1.5 hours. You'll spend the first night there.

The next day you'll pass the highest point in Sensu-mori and descend via a stone trail to Odagahara. Ascending a scree slope about an hour from Ohama-koya, you'll arrive at the Shimekake divergence. Descend into the valley and continue along the trail with a view of the outer rim of the crater to your right. About 2.5 hours from Ohama-koya, you'll arrive at the Omuro-koya mountain hut and Chokai-san-omonoimi-jinja Shrine.

Mt. Shinzan is the highest point on Mt. Chokai and consists entirely of a lava dome. Follow the arrows to ascend between the huge crags, and about 40 minutes after leaving the hut you'll arrive at Mt. Shinzan.

Return the way you came.

Other Info

Apart from hiking the mountain, you’ll also enjoy the area around Mt. Chokai and its natural wonders. You can visit these scenic spots before or after your hike. Some of them include the Ryugahara Wetland on the northern side of the mountain; Shishigahana Wetland with its enormous beech trees; Hottai Falls (Hottaino Taki), among the top 100 waterfalls in Japan with its 57 meter drop; Mototaki Falls (Moto Taki) whose water flows from Mt. Chokai; and Tsuruma-ike Pond at Yunodaiguchi on the southern side of the mountain.

Notes

As Mt. Chokai stands alone near the sea, the weather can change rapidly. Be sure to carry rainwear and clothes suitable for cold weather.
The area below the summit consists of an igneous rocky area, so gloves can make hiking safer.

Route Map

Elevation Map

Height (m)
Horizontal Distance (km)

Spec

Duration
2Days / 11.5Hours
Highest Point
2236m(Mt. Chokai, Mt. Shinzan)
Elevation Gain
1078m
Horizontal Distance
16Km
Skill Level
Fitness Level
Gear Level

On the Trail

Sleeping

Ohama-koya, Omuro-koya

Eating

Inakura Sanso

Hot-Springs

Chokai Hot Spring Recreational Facility Apon Nishihama

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Access

The mountain is located on the border of Akita and Yamagata prefectures in the Tohoku region. Take the Yamagata Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Shinjo Station (approx. four hours). Transfer there to the JR Riku-Usai Line for Sakata Station (approx. an hour). From there, transfer to the JR Uetsu Main Line for Yusa Station (approx. 13 minutes).
From Yusa Station, take a Sakata Daiichi Taxi rideshare and you'll arrive at Hokotate in about 50 minutes. These run from late June to September, and reservations are required by 16:00 the day before.

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