Hiked August 2-4
Map number 42, Minami Alps, Southern Section
Duration: 2-3 days
There’s no easy way around it. To do Warusawa (also known as Arakawa) and Akaishi, you have to take a Tokai Forest Corporation Shuttle Bus to the trailhead. Technically, you could avoid this, but you would have hike several days out of the way.
The shuttle bus stop is located at the Hatanagirinji Parking Lot (35.313224, 138.186184). The first bus picks up a 7:30 and arrives at Sawarajima at 8:30. If you want to catch the first bus, I recommend driving up the night before and camping out in the parking lot.
The way it works is that you will pay 3000 yen to the bus driver on pickup. Then, you have to stay at a Tozai Forest Corporation Hut (either Sawarajima or one on the top of the mountain). When you stay at one of these huts, they discount your stay by 3000 yen (if you stay at more than one hut, it’s only discounted once), and give you a receipt. You must keep your receipt or you can’t get a ride back from Sawarajima to Hatanagi.
Starting this hike at 8:30 in the summer, made it a very hot and grueling first day. I got to the first mountain hut (sen mai) at around 1:30 pm. Most people stay here for the night (elevation 2500m), but I opted to push on to the summit of Arakawa and try to reach the Arakawa Hut late.
I started the morning at about 950m and by the end of the day I was at about 3100m. The rapid elevation change combined with mild dehydration from sweating all day, I got altitude sickness. It started off as just a lack of energy. But after summiting Arakawa, I didn’t have the energy to make it to Arakawa hut. Luckily, there was a manned emergency hut located at Nakadake, which is in between Arakawa and Arakawa hut. This hut had blankets for those without sleeping bags too.
It was at the hut that my altitude sickness got worse (the hut is at 3083m). The man working the hut offered me electrolytes and they worked pretty well. The nausea went away, but the headache stayed, but I had Ibuprofen for that. I actually ended up sleeping fairly well that night even with the altitude sickness.
I felt better in the morning (not 100% though), and was able to catch the sunrise and downed some oatmeal before heading out toward Arakawa hut and Akaishi. Arakawa Hut has a nice water source that you can use to fill up and throw some water on your face.
Continuing on to Akaishi, I got to the summit at around 9 am. It seems like I’d have enough time to get back down to Sawarajima today, but the problem is that the last bus at Sawarajima leaves too early for me to catch it. I had to either stay at the hut on Akaishi (emergency hut, 3120m) or head down to the Akaishi hut (2564m). Given my altitude sickness, I opted to head down to the lower Akaishi hut and stay for the night. Akaishi hut was comfortable. The person I checked in with gave me a double futon to sleep on because she was worried that foreigners would feel uncomfortable sleeping so close to other people.
The next morning I headed down to Sawarajima and caught the first bus back to Hatanagi. On the way back, not too far from the parking lot, check out the Minami Alps Onsen located at 35.306891, 138.196672, which has indoor and outdoor baths, and tattoos are permitted.