Dawn over Japan's Northern Alps

Experience dawn at a high mountain hut in northern Japan during a scramble with The Mountaineers to Mt. Nishihotaka, Mt. Yari, and Mt. Tsurugi, experiencing some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in Japan combined with intense physical challenge.
Shuko Hashimoto Shuko Hashimoto
Foothills Backpacking Committee Member & Super Volunteer
April 05, 2021

It was 4am in the Yarigatake Hut, nestled high in the snowy mountains of Japan. All who had persevered through the previous day's steep trek up to the hut  (elevation 9,908ft) started stirring in the large open sleeping quarters, struggling to fold the futon beds by our feet as silently as possible. The numbering system posted above the sleeping positions were very close together - one wonders during the crowded season how anyone can sleep without disturbing their neighbors!  

Rubbing our eyes to wipe away the sleep, we made our way out onto the deck of the hut in the cold morning darkness. I gratefully accepted a cup of coffee from a friendly local trekker who hiked up with a stove, savoring its warmth.  From our vantage point we could trace a long headlamp line snaking up toward the summit of nearby Yari mountain, elevation 10,433ft, as early risers made their way up the short but steep climb to the top using ladders and chains (I was quite thankful that we did the climb the day prior and could enjoy the growing dawn from the comfort of the hut!). The daybreak greeted the surrounding mountains above the clouds in colors of orange and pink, and we all stared awestruck at the beauty and power of the Japanese rising sun. 

Alas, even the most glorious dawns fade into day.  We soon shuffled back into the warmth of the hut and into the dining area to partake in the 5am home-cooked Japanese breakfast of rice, miso soup, pickled vegetables, an egg and cooked vegetables, already on the table waiting for us.  At this hut we arranged ourselves at long western-style tables with chairs (dining rooms in some older Japanese huts have traditional low tables, and one sits on a slightly raised floor). 

Soon enough it was time to go.  Loading our packs, we picked up our lunch for the day (a special bento box with flavorful rice balls!) and hit the trail,  bowing to our hut companions to wish each other a safe and a pleasant day as we headed in our different directions.

Travel to Japan with Global Adventures

Gain your own unique experience on a Mountaineers hut-to-hut scrambling adventure in Japan's Northern Alps with leader Atsuko Yamaguchi in July of 2022!  Find out more and register at this link.  

Want to meet Atsuko and find out more details?  Come to a trip preview presentation  on Tuesday, May 4 at 6:30PM!

Lead image by Shuko Hashimoto.