When you have a love of the outdoors and mountains in particular, that desire to find the next trail can be relentless. Not too long after our last hike, we found ourselves once again with our backpacks strapped and hiking boots laced, ready to test our fitness and see some stunning natural sights along the way. This time we headed south to Ogiyama and Momokurasan, two mountains boasting formidable heights that are both located in Yamanashi Prefecture.

Getting There

The hike kicks off at Torisawa Station. For people living in central Tokyo, this makes it a very easy and straightforward journey. Catching the JR Limited Express Chuo Line from Shinjuku will get you to Otsuki in just under an hour. From there, you only need to switch to the Local Chuo Line for seven minutes to reach the final stop. Door-to-door, the trip took us less than two hours. It’s worth checking all your travel options as the JR express trains can be quite expensive. Taking the Keio Line instead could be more affordable and convenient too, depending on where you live.

The Trail

Upon arriving at Torisawa Station, exit and cross the street towards the Chuo Expressway. Follow the road which loops around and takes you up a hill near the Otsuki Country Golf Club. It might be hard to spot but keep an eye out for a small sign that says Nashi no Kihira (梨の木平). Cutting through this path requires some uphill effort as you trudge through a very bushy path but it will save you from enduring the winding and more tedious way up. The proper trail head begins at the exit of this path.

Over the next few hours, you’ll find yourself on quite a challenging trail. The hike seemingly has more steep inclines than it does gradual ones. Take things at your own pace and don’t forget to stop for a break to observe your surroundings. There are some surprising delights hidden within the trees and on the forest floor. Before you know it, you’ll have reached the summit of Ogiyama. On a clear day, you’ll be mesmerized by the sight of Mount Fuji ahead. Having climbed this on the cusp of winter and spring, we had an amazing view to accompany some of our quick snacks as we stopped for a rest.

There is then an option of simply heading back down, but instead our chosen route told us to carry on towards Momokurasan. Getting back on the trail, we realized this does involve quite a bit of a descent which can feel discouraging as you know you’ll be scampering back up soon enough for another peak. After an hour or so of tough climbing, including a stint that had us on our hands and knees, we were at the top of Momokurasan with yet another vantage point of Mount Fuji.

Coming back down was a fun exercise yet still requires some caution. Due to the very sharp incline, we found ourselves relying heavily on the metal chains provided for support and in some cases, an impromptu bit of abseiling. Watch your step, especially after rainy days as there could be some slippery and muddy areas. As you progress further, you will find more signs marking Saruhashi Station (猿橋駅), this is where those returning to Tokyo should head.

Pro Tips

Unlike other friendlier mountains around Tokyo, neither Ogiyama nor Momokurasan has restaurants or shops at the summit. It’s important that hikers stock up at home or at the convenience store beforehand to ensure you’ll have plenty of food to keep you energized – there’s a 7-11 near Torisawa Station.

Not bringing a picnic mat was something we regretted, particularly at the top of Momokurasan as the sun was very welcoming. Sitting on the forest floor was fine but lots of ants and bugs were about so a mat might have been a bit more comfortable. Other equipment such as burners and flasks of tea would have definitely set the scene for a proper lunch outdoors but that really depends on how comfortable you are with carrying a heavier load up the mountain.

It’s likely you’ll find yourself alone or with only a few other hikers around as this trail isn’t as well known as others. This can be great if you’re after some solitude with nature but for safety’s sake we still suggest going with a friend should anything happen while you’re out there. Seasoned hikers should find this climb an enjoyable challenge. Beginners might want to start earlier to ensure they complete the entire hike before the sun goes down.

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