Hiked on July 8, 2018
Map Number 41, Minami Alps, northern section
Hike Duration: 13 hours (map time), 8 hours (actual)
Mt. Houou is actually more of a ridgeline, with 3 main peaks – Jizo (2764m), Kannon (2840), and Yakushi (2780m).
Mt. Houou an “outlyer” meaning that it is difficult to bundle with other peaks, so I drove to the trailhead parking area located at Aoki (35.7137270, 138.3539380). This area is actually a campground, and they charge for parking (800yen per day). You can avoid the parking fee if you park down a nearby forest road. The maps don’t label this area a parking area, but many people park along side the road.
I did this as a loop hike starting at Aoki and heading up toward Jizo. I drove up the night before, and slept in my car so I could get an early start. If you go this route, be careful because the trail crosses a stream, and the location where it crosses to the other side is not obvious. After the stream, the trail is pretty straightforward.
Most of the hike was a bit cloudy and some mist. By the time I got to Mt. Kannon, the clouds cleared enough that I could see the nearby peaks of Kita, Aino, Senjo, and Komagatake. Off to the distance I could see Fuji.
On the way back I ran into a troop of snow monkeys. If you do this hike you should also be aware that the return trail crosses a river (very fast moving at the time) before reaching the parking area and the bridges are all out. I recommend skipping this section and staying on the forest road. It will wrap around back to the parking lot avoiding the river.