(九重山) Mt. Kuju Hike

The pictures show this mountain covered in hydrangeas in June/July, so I definitely want to see that. At the same time, I know how big a crowd that can be, PLUS that's a hit and miss hiking period in Japan where it just rains non-stop.  

Budget: JPY5,500 (~USD53)
  • JPY3,200. Bus, Kumamoto to trailhead.
  • JPY2,300. Bus, trailhead to Beppu. 
Hike Date / Difficulty (Elevation: 1,787m / 5,863ft)

When to Go
Highly recommended to be done on June to see the flowers covering the mountain (at least that's the what pictures show).

Special Notes
  • It's a mountain range, the highest point of which is "久住山"
  • Weather check : English / Japanese
  • Trailheads.
    • Kuju Trailhead (くじゅう登山口/長者原), which can be confusing as there are other trailheads. But if you say Kuju Trailhead, they mean this. . There are multiple ways to access this. It can be from Fukuoka, Beppu or Kumamoto. 
      • From Fukuoka.
      • From Kumamoto. Depending on the schedule, there can be one to three buses a day. For 2020, there's only one that leaves Kumamoto Station at 12:06pm. Website here, reservations here.  Look for the bus from Kumamoto to Beppu (熊本⇒別府), and get off at "くじゅう登山口[長者原]".  JPY3,200 one way, 3.5hours. Bus schedule is provided for 牧ノ戸峠 below. Just add 6 minutes for this stop. 
      • From Beppu. Just reverse the one above. 
    • Makinoto-touge (牧ノ戸峠). This is one bus stop away from Kuju trailhead above. Google maps pin here.
      • Kumamoto Station -> 牧ノ戸峠 
        • 07:31am -> 11:09am (not operating for 2020)
        • 08:36am ->  12:14pm (not operating for 2020)
        • 12:06pm -> 03:34pm 
      • 牧ノ戸峠 -> Beppu Station 
        • 03:34pm -> 5:26pm (just one)
    • 男池園地. No public transportation. 
    • Akagawa trailhead (赤川登山口).  No public transportation. The closest to the summit. Google maps pin here. It has an onsen nearby - Akagawa Onsen, and for those driving, the phone number is 0974-76-0081.
    • 大曲. Commonly used, but no public transportation. 
    • 吉部コース登山口. No public transportation.
    • 白水鉱泉. No public transportation. 
    • 沢水展望台. No public transportation.
    • 岳麓寺. No public transportation. 
  • Mountain huts.
    • Paid: 法華院温泉. About an hour and a half from the summit, there's an onsen to go to. JPY6,000, no meals. Open throughout the year. 
    • Free: 久住別れ避難小屋. Gets pretty busy throughout the year. 
    • Camping: There's a camping spot near the paid mountain hut (法華院温泉)
Itinerary - via car from Beppu
  • 06:00am. Drive, Beppu Station to 牧の戸峠 (1.5 hours)
  • 08:00am. ETA: 牧の戸峠. Start hike.
  • 10:10pm. ETA: 久住山 Summit. One hour break. 
  • 02:10pm. ETA: 牧の戸峠
  • 02:30pm. Drive, 牧の戸峠 to Beppu Station. 
  • 04:00pm. ETA: Beppu Station.
Actual Log
  • 05:05am. Drive, Beppu Station to Makinoto-touge (牧の戸峠). Part of the road was icy, but not to the extent that winter tires/spikes were needed. 
  • 06:53am. Arrived at 牧の戸峠 trailhead. Started the hike. The hike started with cemented stairs. 
  • 07:09am. We were done with the stairs and were into normal trail. 
  • 08:25am. Arrived at the mountain hut. From here on, it was one big push for the summit, "久住山". There were a couple of trails, and at one point I almost took a wrong trail going to 中岳. So make sure to look at the map and keep on the right going up. 
  • 08:51am. Arrived at 久住山 summit, took some pictures, and backtrailed. An alternative was to add 5-10 minutes to the hike and loop around to see the pond, which I did not do, but wish I did. 
  • 10:56am. Arrived back at the trailhead, 牧の戸峠.
  • 11:10am. Drove back to Beppu. 
The trailhead.

The cemented road up, though this pic is looking down at it. 

The resting point at the top of the cemented road. When we were going up, it was all foggy. 

Here's the view on our way down. 

Our trail going up - no views, frozen soil. 

Our trail going down - great views, mud. 

The mountain hut - can you even see it? 

The sleeping area in the mountain hut. 

There are seats and a table too. 

There is a toilet, but that is closed. The only toilet available is this - which you can only use if you have a portable toilet pack with you. 

The summit marker. 

Ice all over!

On the way down, we were blessed with some decent views (not perfect, but at least not 0% visibility)

Comments

  1. Public Transportation Itinerary:
    *From Beppu*

    08:05am. Bus, Beppu Station to 牧の戸峠.
    10:01am. ETA: 牧の戸峠. Start hike.
    12:10pm. ETA: 久住山 Summit.
    02:30pm. ETA: Kuju trailhead (くじゅう登山口)
    03:30pm. Bus, くじゅう登山口 to Beppu Station.
    05:13pm. ETA: Beppu Station.

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