YUNOSAWA-DAKE (Mt. Yunosawadake)

ゆのさわだけ 

Hiking Guide to the mountains of Yamagata Prefecture

湯ノ沢岳

YUNOSAWA-DAKE

Kinbo Shugen mountain with great views of Gassan, Chokai-zan, and the Asahi Alps.

Yunosawa-dake is the second tallest peak on the Maya-san mountain range. The mountain is taller than Hokari-yama, Yoroga-mine, and Kinbo-zan. As territory for Kinbo Shugen, legend has it Kobo Daishi AKA Kukai opened Yunosawa-dake for ascetic practice before he went on to open up Yudono-san. As such, there are about a dozen specific locations of worship to visit. Along with the other four peaks on the Maya-san range, these five peaks are the ‘Five Old Peaks’ (Goroho 五老峰).

In recent years, there have been sightings of bears, serow, birds of prey, and other wild animals on Yunosawa-dake. Yunosawa-dake's steep mountain ridges and beech forests bring panoramic views over the Shonai plains. Then from the summit Chokai-zan, Gassan, and the Asahi Renpo are visible. If you have the time and energy, traversing Yunosawa-dake to Kinbo-zan via Hokari-yama and Yoroga-mine is a great way to take in these ancient peaks. 

Trails up Yunosawa-dake

Shimohongo Trail (three hours one-way)

Head towards the Shimohongo hamlet from the Sanchoku Asahi Gu along Route 112. Go along the Yunosawa River following the signs up to the quarry. The trailhead is next to the dam at the end of the road. The carpark is big enough for about 10 cars. 

Cross the river and the hike begins among a forest path until you reach the first station. There is a cedar forest that turns into a wilder forest full of snow camellia. Here the path gets increasingly steeper. There is a ridge with great views, as well as lookouts at the third station, and a place called Gohozen (御宝前). From here you can see Gassan, Chokai-zan, and the summit of Yunosawa-dake. 

After that, there is a rocky area that requires using chains to get past. While taking in the view near the 8th station you will see the intersection that leads to Hokari-yama and Kinbo-zan. Take a left here. The path evens out for a short while. Once you’re through the last beech forest you will arrive at the summit. If the weather’s good, you can see Gassan and the Asahi Renpo. 

There aren’t any watering holes past the start of the trailhead. It is also very steep and is slippery so more care is necessary for the descent. Part of the road to the quarry isn’t sealed, but the road surface is fine. There are signs for the trailhead which have further information. Be aware that there is also no toilet at the trailhead. 

Otsukue Trail (3.5 hours one-way)

From Route 345, head into the Sakanoshita hamlet. Follow the Otsukue river about 2km to the trailhead in the remains of the Otsukue hamlet. Locals from the Tagawa region work hard to keep the trail maintained. At the end of the service road you will find a final watering hole on the trail called Iwashimizu

There is a small incline from the end of the service road. Once you climb that there is a forest of broadleaf trees, primarily beech. You will reach an intersection that splits between Yunosawa-dake and Mitsumata. Take a right and head through the native beech forest. This forest is great for the fresh green of summer and the autumn leaves. Before long, the path meets with the Shimohongo trail and heads up to the summit. 

Nearby locations worth checking out

  • Kinbo-zan: Former Shugendo peak great for a half-day hike
  • Hokari-yama: Longer hike up a mountain with amazing views and autumn leaves
  • Maya-san: Famous peak with an amazing backstory
  • Yudono-san: Dewa Sanzan mountain with awe-inspiring shrine
  • Chikeiken Farmer's House serving homemade traditional meals (and overall general cool place to be)
  • Rokujurigoe Kaido (see the Yudono-san article for more)
  • Gassan Tsutaya Ryokan in Shizu Onsen

Resources

Yamagatayama Website (Japanese)

YUNOSAWA-DAKE

湯ノ沢岳ゆのさわだけ 

Mt. Yunosawa, Mt. Yunosawadake, Yunosawadake

Yunosawa-dake (湯ノ沢岳ゆのさわだけ) is a 964m (3163 ft.) peak in the Shonai region of Yamagata prefecture. Yunosawa-dake is open from May to October. Yunosawa-dake is a level 3 in terms of physical demand, which means it is moderate to hike, has a B technical grade, which means it doesn't require too much expertise, and you want to allow at least 3 hours one-way for a climb.

Mountain Range

Maya-san

Region

Shonai

Elevation

964m (3163 ft.)

Technical Demand

B (doesn't require too much expertise)

Physical Demand

3 (moderate hike)

Trails

Two, 1) Shimohongo Trail (3 hours one-way) 2) Otsukue Trail (3.5 hours one-way)

Best time to climb

May to October

Day trip possible?

Yes

Minimum Time Required

6 hours (3 hours one-way)

Google Map with trailheads and summit.

PDF Maps by TheHokkaidoCartographer and JapanWilds.org. See all here.

FROM THE REGION

Bananas and Cokes, Leaches and Pit Vipers: Kumanonaga-mine (Mt. Kumanonagamine)
A Ryokan (traditional Japanese Inn) at Semi Onsen Hot Spring Resort
Turtles, Tigers, and a Legendary Japanese Character: Kamewari-yama (Mt. Kamewari)
Mt. Maya seen from the distance
Mythical Beasts, Buddha’s Mother, and buried Yamabushi treasure? Welcome to Maya-san (Mt. Maya).

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