● Rocks on the trails are sometimes marked with a circle for the correct path or an X for a direction to avoid.
● When a dislodged rock can endanger people below, hikers call out “Raku!” an abbreviation of rakuseki (“falling rock”). Conveniently, raku is pronounced much like the word “rock.”
● The mountain slopes can be very steep, and going off-trail may not only damage the environment but also place you in danger.
● Listen to advice from mountain-hut staff, who are knowledgeable
about their surroundings.
● Helmets are recommended for some of the more difficult sections.
● The weather can change very quickly in alpine locations. Be prepared and check forecasts often.
on the trail, or for predawn departures.
● A hiking registration form should be submitted at the trailhead
or on the Internet. This is extremely important in case of emer-
● In the case of an accident, you may incur costs for searching and
rescuing. It is advisable to take out mountaineering insurance or travel accident insurance that covers hiking (it is possible to apply for this at a vending machine in Kamikochi)
● A navigation app is effective to prevent losing your way (there is a free English version). It is best to install it on your smartphone in advance, and download map data of your destination.
AT MOUNTAIN HUTS
Depending on the hut, the lights will be turned off at 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. and back on at 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. Many hikers are in bed even earlier than 8:00 p.m., so everyone tends to quieten down by then. It is also customary to pack early the night before so as not to wake others with noisy preparations.
Water is an extremely precious resource at high altitudes. The availability and quantity at the huts depend on how close they are to a water source, but all of them strive to conserve water. Some may even charge for its use, depending on the collec- tion method.
Where possible, reservations should be made in advance. Not all mountain huts accept reservations, however, so carefully researching your options in advance is a must. If you have a reservation but decide to cancel your stay due to bad weather or for any other reason, be sure to inform the hut. The nonarrival of guests with reservations raises concerns about possible accidents on the trail.
Everyone is asked to carry out any garbage they generate. Toilet rules vary from hut to hut. Some require used toilet paper to be placed in a waste basket next to the toilet. Toilet waste is either carried out of the park or broken down through a waste treatment system, both of which re- quire considerable effort. While guests staying at the huts and campsites can use the toilets free of charge, others are asked to contribute about ¥100 per use.
The huts can get very crowded during peak season and on weekends. They never refuse anyone in need of shelter, so sharing a futon mattress is a possibility. If you fear becoming claustrophobic, avoid weekends and the peak seasons.
Most of the mountain huts do not accept credit cards, so be sure to bring cash for payment.