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. 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 the river, and the location where it crosses to the other side is not obvious. After the river, 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 to the parking lot.