This is a string of small peaks along the caldera that surrounds lake Ono, the main peak being Mt Akagi which I won’t discuss here since it’s part of the hundred famous mountains and is well documented. I only decided to climb them after I got down from Mt Akagi well ahead of schedule. It was so unplanned in fact that I didn’t even had a map and I had to reply on a photo of a schematic area map. On the map you can see there are a number of minor other peaks that can be done to complete the tour of the caldera so I definitely plan to return one day.
HOW TO GET THERE: Take the train to Maebashi (I took the shinkansen to save time) then a bus to the Akagi visitor centre. Some guy was handing out brochures about Mt Akagi to every person on the bus and after we departed, was giving explanations about Mt Akagi (I presume since I couldn’t really follow) through a microphone nearly the whole way. Slightly annoying but I still managed to doze off eventually.
The bus was pretty full and everybody got off one stop before the end. This was the closest stop to the lake. However the start of the Mt Akagi hiking path is between the 2 last stops so it doesn’t really matter which one you get off.
THE ROUTE: As I said above I shall pick up this account after the descent of Mt Akagi. Once you hit the main road, instead of turning left along the road back to the visitor’s centre, take the road opposite you leading to the camp site following the lake (don’t go right, up the mountain). The start of the hike is tricky to find – according the to the crude map at the camping, the trail starts before the camp site when actually it starts from within, just behind the toilets. I had actually given up after walking up and down the road looking for any trace of a trail and finally saw it when I decided to go to the bathroom.
It’s a nice signposted trail that quickly heads up past a few holiday houses and up the mountain. The lake is already at 1350m so there really isn’t much climbing to do to get to the caldera ridge. The path turns left towards Mt Jingasa but I walked about 50 meters to the right and got to a small rise called Mt Ashigara 1474m according to the map but without a summit marker.
After that I continued to Mt Jingasa which did have a summit marker and views of Mt Akagi. A little further on I reached the summit marker for Mt Yakushi. There was really no one on the ridge which was amazing considering the amount of people on Mt Akagi. After Mt Yakushi the path changed direction and seemed to go over the ridge and down the other side, and was at times a little hard to follow. I became concerned about ending up in the totally wrong place seeing that I didn’t have a map. The southern part of the Mt Akagi area has a number of peaks and it can be a little disorientating. However very soon the path turned again into the right direction and before I knew it I was on the top of Mt Debari.
Mt Debari was the most attractive summit by far with lots of sitting spots and some very nice views of Mt Akagi and Lake Ono. After spending some time there I moved on and slowly started going down the caldera back to lake level. There are a number of paths going down to the left signposted to some nature house but the correct path is straight ahead until you get to a clear T junction. At this stage, I turned right towards the lake (the other path is signposted 20 km to some far away destination).
Eventually I reached the lake and walked along the road for a short time. With the sun in your back it’s a good place to take photos of Mt Akagi with Lake Ono. After passing a bunch of houses there is a sign for an observation platform going up a steep field on the right. After the steep climb the path becomes reasonably flatter, and after going through some forest, takes you over the treeless summit of Mt Miharashi. The observation platform is just a little down the path on the other side also you will not observe anything here that you haven’t observed before. The platform is for motorists and the road is not far away.
After crossing the road I had to decide whether or not to climb one last mounain. Mt Jizoh at 1673 m was significantly higher than the other peaks and had been looming in the distance for a while. In the end I decided against it since I couldn’t afford to miss the bus back. I ended up taking a nice wide mostly flat path going around the base and ending up on the main road again. From there its straight back to the bus stop.
A few meters before the Akagi visitor centre there is a nice wooden cottage that doubles as a restaurant. I popped in to get a snack and I was very warmly welcomed. I was invited to sit in front of the fire and offered hot tea. A nice place to wait if there is some time before the bus leaves.
CONCLUSION: An easy but fun hike up and down some relatively obscure peaks with nice lake views, this will suit anyone who wants to get away from the crowds. The main drawback is that unless you climb Mt Akagi as well (or have your own car) you will have to walk along the road to reach the start of the hike.