Finding the Trailhead
When you are on the bus, ask the bus driver to alert you when it reaches the stop for Kagosaka touge. There is a electronic signboard at the front of the bus that announces, visually and aurally, what the next stop is. It is useful, only if you can read the kanji or understand the Japanese. Start getting ready to alight when the bus is heading up the mountain. The bus climbs up the mountain for 10 minutes or so. You want the bus stop after the bus has reached the top. The bus stop you will be alighting at looks like it’s in the middle of nowhere. It is, but there is no need to worry. You are at the right place. There is a large statue of an angel besides the bus stop, so check that you are at the right place.
The trailhead isn’t immediately visible from the bus stop. Cross the road to get to the trailhead. If you are taking the bus back to Gotemba, the bus stop is directly across the road. Walk along the road beyond the bus stop until you see a small sign that points to the trailhead. Walk up the driveway that leads to a cemetery. On a clear day, you could see Mt. Fuji behind you from the driveway.
Walk through the cemetery and look out for signs that say “Kagosaka touge”. Eventually, you will see a dirt trail that is shaded by low trees and branches. This is the start of the trail and you are near the border between Shizuoka Prefecture and Yamanashi Prefecture.
Hitting the Trail
Continue walking down the tree-lined path that looks a little like the scene from My Neighbor Totoro, when Mei was following the tiny white Totoro through a forested tunnel. The trail gradually leads upwards. In winter, the trail gets completely covered in snow and it is a little slippery, but not impossible, to walk without crampons. In other seasons, it is dry, which makes for a very pleasant walk. There are some signs along the way to guide you in the right direction. Some of the signs include the names of trails and peaks written in Romaji letters (English alphabet).
Mikuni Hiking Course
The Mikuni hiking course is a loop that takes you to Mt. Mikuni （三国山）and around the area. It is a pleasant, easy walk and perfect if you wish to take a short walk in the woods. Many visitors who are staying for the weekend at Lake Yamanaka (Yamanakako) will walk around here for some fresh air and exercise. The loop takes 30 minutes to complete.
Mt. Oobora (1383.5m)
There isn’t much to see at Mt. Oobora（大洞山）. I usually stop here for a quick rest and drink of water. At the clearing at Asami or Asamihira（アサミ平）, you can see Fuji peeking out from above the treetops on a clear day.
Mt. Mikuni (1611m)
Walk along the Mt. Mikuni hiking course to the next point. You might hear an incessant tinny whine and wonder if you have suddenly developed a case of tinnitus. You haven’t. The sound is from race car engines whirring around the Fuji Speedway track, which is situated at the foot of the mountain.
Note: Tsuna touge （ツナ峠）is no longer passable because parts of the trail had been destroyed by a typhoon. If it were possible to walk down this trail, you will end up at one of the largest cemeteries in Shizuoka. It is also one of the 100 most famous cherry blossom-viewing spots in Japan. Click here to read about my visit in spring and summer.
At this point, decide if you wish to continue or you’ve had enough of the outdoors. Mt. Mikuni is a pleasant picnic spot and it is frequented by hikers and trail runners. Turn back, make a quick detour to visit Mt. Tachi（立山 or 太刀山） before taking the bus back to Gotemba station.
At the foot of the mountain is Fuji Shrine, which is lovely in Spring when the cherry blossoms are blooming. You’d see this shrine from the bus when you are heading to Kagozaka touge.
Kagozaka touge -> Mt. Mikuni Hiking Course -> Mt. Oobora -> Mt. Mikuni (105 minutes)