Finding the trailhead:
From the exit at Ohito station, turn left to walk along the car park, cross the train tracks and keep walking until you hit the intersection of 2 major highways. Keep walking in a south-west direction, cross the Kanogawa river and you’d see Mt. Joyama jutting out of an otherwise flat landscape, to your right. Keep following the road until you see the abandoned Peace Hotel. The road leading to the start of the trail is behind this hotel.
Tip: There is a convenience store a couple of blocks from the hotel. Keep walking along the highway until you get to a traffic intersection, and you’d see it across from where you are. Stock up on snacks and water and visit the very clean restroom before you hit the trail. Walk along the small road flanked by rice fields, with the Peace Hotel to your right and Mt. Joyama within sight in the distance. You’d see a sign that says that the trailhead is just up ahead. There is a car park and a small cemetery at the trailhead. It takes around 20-25 minutes to walk from Ohito station to the trailhead.
Hitting the Trail:
Start hiking up a rocky path, past an overgrown and unkempt bamboo grove, toward the first fork in the trail. This is a popular rock climbing site and you’d see climbers attempting to scale up the cliff.
That should take around 35 to 40 minutes. At the fork in the trail, take a right turn toward the top of Mt. Joyama. The return journey from the fork to the top of the mountain should take at most an hour or less.
Once you’re back at the fork, you could return to Ohito station or continue hiking to Mt. Katsuragiyama.
Take the trail away from Mt. Joyama and you’d notice that you are suddenly looking at very different trees from the trail to Mt. Joyama. The tall straight-trunked pine trees on your left are a completely different type of trees from those on your right. The reason for this is that you are standing on the juncture where two massive land masses collided to form the Izu Peninsula million of years ago. Imagine a moving island, with its own thriving fauna, propelled by earthquakes and underwater seismic upheavals crashing into the main island of Honshu. That was how the Izu Peninsula came about. There is a sign at the start of the trail explaining this in greater details. It’s pretty fascinating.
Walk along this trail for 5 minutes, until you see a sign that says “Outer Mountain” or “Inner Mountain”. A kind soul had scrawled in permanent marker informing fellow hikers that the “Outer Mountain” trail leads to Mt. Katsuragiyama and Mt. Hottanjoyama. Turn left and continue onward.
Walk until you see this sign Mt. Katsuragiyama.
Decide if you wish to take it easy or take on a more challenging trail. For a leisurely and longer walk, continue along the main trail and it’ll take you 50 minutes to reach the top of Mt. Katsuragiyama. Or do what I did and turn right into the forest. This trail is definitely not easy to pick out and overgrown, and take note, it is steep. Follow the strips of coloured strips of ribbon guiding you upward. Some of these strips aren’t easy to pick out and you will have to scramble along, clinging onto trees and hauling yourself from one tree trunk to the next. A pair of gloves would come in handy here. Mid-way through the trail, I did wonder if I had made a mistake and looking down, I dreaded the thought of tumbling down back to the main trail. Did I mention I suffer from vertigo too? The good thing was, it was over in 25 minutes. I made it onto the top of the clearing and had a quiet spot to myself to enjoy the view. This side trail cuts hiking time by less than half, but it’s not for hikers who aren’t too sure-footed.
Tip: Do not attempt this hike if it had been raining or the trail is muddy. Landslides occur here quite often, and the winds are pretty strong.
The next piece of good news is that you don’t have to go back the same way you came from. Mt. Katsuragiyama is also very different from the rough-and-tumble trail you’ve left behind you. There is a park at the top of the mountain and it is accessible by ropeway. A return journey to Panorama Park on the ropeway costs 1,220yen. There is a shrine, cafeteria and gift shop at the park, mini climbing wall for children, and playgrounds for kids and fur kids. There is also a free onsen footbath with a really good view of Mt. Fuji.
The view of Mt. Fuji is pretty spectacular and there is the 100 Jizo Power Spot. Soak up some power here and pray for good health.