Hiking Mt. Bandai

Mt. Bandai is one of the most recognisable of Fukushima’s landmarks. It towers in the background of many scenic places and is located in a super picturesque area right next to Lake Inawashiro.

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Mt. Bandai is situated in Bandai-Asahi National Park, and is the focus point of the gorgeous sightseeing roads Bandai-Azuma Skyline and Bandai-Azuma Lake Line. No matter what the season, Mt. Bandai is truly a sublime sight to behold.

 

 

I’ve wanted to climb Mt. Bandai since moving to Fukushima nearly two years ago, so I was very excited to get the chance to hike it last weekend.

 

 

I started my climb at the Happodai Trailhead, which is the momt bandai hiking japan bandaisan (1)st commonly used route up Mt. Bandai and the easiest to hike! There are 2 pretty wide car parks at this trailhead so it is easy to park there even on more popular hiking days.

I created a map of the hiking trail, so please make sure to check it out. I hope it’s of some help!

It takes around 2 hours to hike from the Happodai Trailhead to the main rest station which is situated at Koboshimizu Mountain Hut.

At this rest stop you can buy souvenirs such as Mt. Bandai pins and badges, bells to ward off bears, postcards etc. But the thing I appreciated being able to buy at this rest stop was a cold bottle of coke.

It’s a good idea to have a good rest at this stop, because the final 20 minutes to the summit of Mt Bandai is pretty steep compared to the rest of the hike. I’m glad I took my time before facing the final part of the hike.

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Summit of Mt. Bandai

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I was really impressed by how scenic this hike was – especially once we got to the top and the clouds started to clear up, finally letting us see amazing views all the way down to Lake Inawashiro. I’ve been to Lake Inawashiro a number of times and seen photos of the lake from lots of angles, but it was really awesome to see it from above.

 

 

Our walk back down had much clearer skies, meaning that we could take some good photographs of the the views!

 

 

We walked past a large field that becomes filled with flowers a number of times over the course of the year, so I recommend taking this route on the way back. Going back via the flower field also cuts out some of the steeper climb between the trail head and Koboshimizu Mountain Hut.

 

 

Climbing Mt. Bandai was a great experience, and definitely something I am proud to tick off my Fukushima bucket list! Make sure to try this hike if you have a chance!

 

Tips

  • It is possible to get to the Happodai Trailhead by public transport, but only if you take a taxi from a nearby station, which can be pretty expensive (up to 10,000 yen from the closest train station). I recommend renting a car in the prefecture and driving to the trailhead for a relaxing start to your hike.
  • The best and safest times of the year to hike Mt. Bandai are between late April and early November. This area has heavy snowfall in the winter though, so you can enjoy snowshoe trekking in other areas of Urabandai instead of climbing Mt. Bandai.
  • Take walking poles to help you balance when going up or down some of the steeper areas of the route.
  • Make sure to bring plenty of water, food, snacks and suncream!
  • Make sure to use the toilet at the Happodai Trailhead before setting off, as there isn’t a toilet on the hiking course.
  • Before you start hiking, make sure you have a bell on your bag to scare away any bears that might be lurking around. Also make sure that any food you carry is wrapped up nice and air-tight so as not to attract any wildlife.
  • On your way down, you’ll come to a fork in the road at Nakanoyu Seki, from where you can choose to go to Urabandai (裏磐梯) or Happodai (八方台). Make sure you go in the direction of Happodai, as the Urabandai direction will take you all the way to Bandai Kogen Station!
  • If you don’t fancy such a long hike, how about starting your hike near Active Resorts Hotel in Urabandai and walking around the colourful ponds of Goshikinuma that were created after Mt. Bandai’s eruption 130 years ago? I wrote about Goshikinuma on my blog here.

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Happodai Trailhead Location

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9 thoughts on “Hiking Mt. Bandai

  1. I never leave the Aizu area without hiking up Bandai. The summit offers panoramic views of the region and is a relatively easy climb: in the summer it can be climbed without any major equipment and is easily completed by moderately active people. Depending on how busy the mountain is, up and down can take as little as 2 hours 15 minutes. My children started hiking it with me when they were 5 years old and loved the experience. Climbers must be just about the politest in the world with perfect etiquette and very friendly. I have great memories from previous climbs.

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  2. Dear Zoe,

    thank you for your great posts about Fukushima.
    Is it possible to walk the Gold Line from Urabandai Kogen Station to Happodai Trailhead? Is this road open for pedestrians? Can you advice something on hiking Bandai-san directly from Urabandai Kogen Station and from Inawashiro?

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    1. Hi Tom, thank you for the question.
      I haven’t got a huge amount of experience hiking Mt. Bandai, so I’m currently asking my colleagues for their advice.
      Can you let me know how experience you are in terms of hiking, and how much hiking you would like to do / can physically do in a day so we can get an idea of your fitness level?

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      1. I will arrive to Inawashiro Station on 5th of Ocober, either by bus around 5 am or by train at 9 am. In case I arrive at 5, I’m thinking about hiking Bandai san directly from Inawashiro, but I cannot figure out if there is any trail and how long it takes to the summit. From the summit I would like to hike down to the Urabandai Kogen Station or to the Happodai Trailhead and then by walk to the Happodai Kogen Station. If I arrive at 9 am, I will go by bus to Goshiki numa Iriguchi and then have a walk to the Urabandai Kogen Station. From there I would like to go by walk to the Happodai Trailhead, climb Mt. Bandai and go back directly to the Urabandai Kogen Station (not Happodai Trail). I’m in my thirthies, still quite fit.

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      2. Hi Tom. I asked my colleague and have summarized her advice below:

        There is a trailhead which starts at Inawashiro Ski Slope, but it is far from Inawashiro Station (6 km up hill), and the hike from Inawashiro Ski Slope to the summit of Mt. Bandai is extremely hard (very steep). It’s the hardest route to the top and takes 3.5 hours each way. My friend actually did this by accident and regretted it very much.

        The Happodai Trailhead course is the most standard way to hike Mt. Bandai. (2 hours 10 minutes / 3.5 km per way). It is the most popular course, and therefore the safest because if you get stuck or lost there are likely to be people around to help you.

        But Happodai Trailhead is hard to get to without a car. You can take a taxi from Inawashiro Station, but it’s 28km and it costs around 8000 yen (80 dollars). You could walk to the Happodai Trailhead via the Gold Line road from Urabandai Kogen Station, but the Gold Line has no footpath, would be dangerous to walk on, and would also tire you out before you even start your hike, due to having to walk for 1 hour 40 mins in hiking gear on tarmac.

        The Urabandai Hiking Course which starts near Urabandai Kogen Station is also a pretty hard course. Not as bad as the Inawashiro one, but it is quite steep and takes 3 to 3.5 hours per way.

        There’s no way for us to tell your experience level or fitness level. So here are my recommendations.

        The safest course is the Happodai Trailhead. So I recommend renting a car and driving to the trailhead, and starting and finishing your hike at the car park.

        If renting a car is out of the question, then you’re left with either paying 8000 yen per way to get to between Happodai Trailhead and inawashiro station, OR doing the Urabandai Hiking Trail, which is harder, but accessible by public transport.

        I hope this helps. Please ask me if you have any more questions.

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