Mt Shyakushi is a non famous mountain and the only reason to climb it is that you can see Mt Fuji really well from it’s summit – there are literally no intervening mountains obstructing the view, just flat countryside and forest surrounding the small Oshino village at its base. It has very few autumn colours and the peak is nothing more than one point among others on the ridge line.
HOW TO GET THERE: Take a train to Fujiyama station (used to be called Fujiyoshida until it was renamed in 2010). There is a direct train going to Kawaguchiko station (the next stop) leaving from Shinjuku station at 8:14 although I’m not sure whether it runs all year round. This convenient yet pricey train will get you to Fujiyama just in time for the bus that will take you to Oshino village. I was the only person on the bus, that is how non famous this mountain is.
THE ROUTE: Following the directions of the bus driver, I headed along a road with Mt Fuji directly behind me. After crossing a couple of small streams I started seeing signs that confirmed that I was on the right route. Very soon I entered a forest with tall beautiful trees and the asphalt road turned into packed dirt and rocks. This reminded me that I was no longer in Tokyo with its tired beaten down forests, but in Yamanashi. Another reminder was that there was literally no one else around. Eventually I did pass a family of five who had come by car.
After climbing steadily for a while I reached a pass where I turned left up the main ridge. Very soon I reached a rocky section with ropes and a nice viewpoint of Mt Fuji. After the obligatory snapshots I continued on towards the summit. On the way it’s possible to do a small round-trip to another slightly higher summit called Shishidome. I was fortunate that I happened to meet a trio of hikers at that junction and so I asked them if it was worth the side-trip. They said no since there was no view so I thanked them and continued on the path to Mt Shakushi which was now slightly downhill.
Suddenly I came upon the perfect lunch spot – a lonely rock with a perfect view of Mt Fuji. I decided to take a risk and have lunch before the summit since it seemed mostly flat from that point onwards and summits can often be surprisingly crowded even when there seems to be no one climbing the mountain.
Occasionally I had people stop behind me to admire the view but overall it was one of the best lunches of my whole hiking career. Not only could I see Mt Fuji in front of me but also the South Alps (some of the highest peaks were already covered in snow) and lake Yamanako. Eventually I managed to pull myself away from the view and continue to the summit.
The top of Mt Shyakushi has a couple of benches that are in bad need of repair and, interestingly enough, a bell. I was so busy taking photos of Mt Fuji that I actually forgot to ring it in the end. I was glad I had taken my lunch earlier since the sun was moving behind Mt Fuji and thus by now the side facing me was in the shade and less photogenic than before. As a matter of fact it nearly looked like the sun would set exactly behind the cone which is called Diamond Fuji here. Unfortunately there was no way I could stay so late on the top.
There was 2 groups of people preparing to go down when I arrived which was perfect because first I got them to take a nice photo of me with Mt Fuji in the background and second I was able to remove my shirt and sunbathe on one of the bench seats (after they had gone of course). Even though it was November, it was warm in the sun.
There wasn’t really any rush to go down since I could walk to the onsen and I didn’t have a bus to catch. Still I wanted to get off the mountain before dark. My timing was good since just after I set off I passed a couple on the way to the top. This mountain is really that small that people can still go to the top mid-afternoon.
The descent was mainly uneventful except that at one point it got really steep and I slipped and crashed onto my shoulder. Luckily it was dirt so there was no damage. There were many open spaces with nice views of Mt Fuji, still beautiful with the sun in it’s back. There were some fine sideway views of Mt Mitsutoge to the right. I also passed a launching pad for paragliding. There was even a mini funicular to haul the material up to the top. Eventually after a few more twists and turns I got back to the asphalt road.
Walking to the onsen instead of taking the bus was a brilliant idea since I was walking face to Mt Fuji the whole way. After the hot spring, the bus back was just as empty as on the way there.
CONCLUSION: A not too long hike that I recommend doing in autumn or winter when the weather is sunny in order to enjoy the views of Mt Fuji. An onsen within walking distance of the base of the mountain is a definite plus.
Climability rate: 5.9