Climbing Mt. Chogatake

This one- or two-day hike from Azumino rewards climbers with incredible views of the Northern Japanese Alps.


The rainy season has ended and the time for hiking is officially here. Monday’s weather was perfect, so a couple of us decided to climb Chogatake, a 2,677 meter high mountain in Azumino. Bordering Kamikochi to the southwest, it has splendid views of the Northern Japanese Alps.

This article was updated on October 6th, 2023

Mt. Chogatake at a Glance

Hiking Season Trailhead (Start/End) Peak Total Distance Average Course Time
Jun. to Oct. Mitsumata Trailhead (1,350 m) Mt. Chogatake (2,677 m) 12.4 km 9 hours

The Trail to Mt. Chogatake

The hike begins at the Mitsumata trailhead behind Alps Azumino National Government Park. The road to the trailhead is winding, narrow, and occasionally blocked by wild monkeys. From Mitsumata, the hike takes seven to nine hours depending on your physical fitness. The trail is well-maintained, and there are wooden stairs and railings that make many of the steeper parts quite manageable.

We started at the trailhead at about 8:15 in the morning, aiming to reach the peak by lunchtime. After filling out and submitting our hiking plan, we headed into the woods. The path was gentle and the sounds of the forest and running water were incredibly soothing. After 30 minutes we came to a resting spot with a gnarled tree covered in pointy rocks. A sign-post beside it read, “a tree that looks like Godzilla.” It was a great conversation starter with passing hikers.

A stunning likeness.

The trail became gradually steeper with an increasing number of wooden staircases. Around two hours into the hike we reached a comfortable clearing around a small stream. People were snacking, resting and washing their faces with the cold mountain water. The fog that had covered us sank, revealing the peak of Mt. Jonen above us. Energized by the view we marched back into the woods and began to scramble up the rocky path.

Mt. Jonen peaks out from above the morning fog.

Despite our fatigue we managed to break through the woods in just three hours. A highland meadow spread out in front of us with a variety of pink, purple and white flowers. The path slowly flattened out, and as we passed a row of bushes we were struck by a majestic view of the Northern Japanese Alps. Snow still rested in the nooks of these 3,000-meter-high mountains, and waterfalls cut swaths through verdant forests along their base. Looking south we saw Mt. Norikura and Mt. Ontake in the distance. Behind us towards Azumino was an uninterrupted sea of clouds.

The view of the Northern Alps that greeted us at the top of Mt. Chogatake.
On a clear day you can see for miles in all directions. The far-left mountain covered by clouds is Mt. Ontake.
Campers pitch their tents above the clouds.

The return journey was relatively easy and we made it back down in two hours. The onsen at Holiday-Yu was waiting for us with its indoor and outdoor hot springs, sauna, and whirlpool baths. It was the perfect way to end a day of hiking. As we drove north along the IC we saw the Northern Alps shrouded in clouds, as if the magnificent view had been reserved only for us.

Access to the Mitsumata Trailhead

The Mitsumata Trailhead is located in Azumino, up the road past Alps Azumino National Government Park. Buses do not run to the trailhead, so you can only get there by private car or taxi. From Toyoshina or Hotaka stations on the JR Oito line, a taxi ride takes about 35 minutes and costs 6,210 yen one-way.
By car, the trailhead is about 30 minutes from the Azumino IC exit, and there are around 70 parking spaces available. During autumn, spaces are likely to fill up very early, and visitors are advised not to park in non-designated areas.

Accommodations, Hot Springs and More

Chogatake Hutte

Mt. Chogatake can be climbed in a day, but for those who want a more leisurely hike, staying at Chogatake Hutte is a great option. It sits right on top of the spacious ridge by the peak, so you can enjoy the incredible scenery of the Japanese Alps in the evening and morning as well. The hut has a capacity of about 100 people and there are tent sites nearby as well. Reservations are required for staying in the hut.

Half-board: 15,000 yen*
Room only: 10,000 yen*
Tent sites: 2,000 yen*

See Chogatake Hutte's website here (Japanese)

Reservations can be made online here (Japanese)

Alps Azumino National Government Park (Hotaka/Horigane District)

At the base of Mt. Hotaka, this section of the park has beautiful views of the Northern Alps, cool forested areas and rolling meadows. Throughout Spring and Summer a variety of colorful flowers bloom here, including lavender, day lilies and tulips. There are plenty of attractions for children, making this a great stop for families.

See Alps Azumino National Government Park's homepage here.

Holiday-Yu Hotel, Hot Spring and Campsite

Holiday-Yu is about 10 minutes away from Alps Azumino Government National Park. From here, it’s another 20 to 30 minutes to the Mitsumata trailhead. Room plans start at 7,500 yen* and up. The Onsen is free for hotel guests or 600 yen* for campers or day visitors. See their official website here.

The Susado Campsite is across the road from the hotel. Toilets, barbeque pits and the facilities of the hotel are open to campers. A campsite is 3,300 yen* per night.

Hours: 10:00 to 21:30
Location: 20 min. from the Azumino IC exit.(Holiday-Yu on Google Maps)

*Prices are subject to change. Check each facility's official website for the latest information.