Fukushima's Fuji is just as iconic.
Rated one of the top 100 mountains in Japan, Fukushima’s Mt. Bandai is loved for its combination of dramatic beauty, great hiking courses, and world-class ski resorts.
Once known as iwahashi-yama, or the rock ladder to the heavens, the 1816 meter Mt. Bandai towers over the “heavenly mirror lake” of Inawashiro – whose surface perpetually looks like blue glass. Though currently a dormant volcano, the historic 1888 eruption not only formed much of the surrounding Bandai area but created Mt. Bandai’s trademark two faces. Grab your camera for a shot of both the rugged north side and the untouched, serene south side of the mountain.
While reaching the top of Mt. Bandai is no small feat, hiking and mountain climbing enthusiasts alike will find a welcome challenge.
They don’t call it the Mt. Fuji of Aizu for nothing.
While there are several trails starting at different points around the mountain, the easiest and most commonly used route is the Happodai Trail. The course to the first rest station takes about two hours. Along the way, hikers can catch postcard views, passing an abandoned mountain lodge and natural hot spring. At the rest station, you can catch your breath, chat with other hikers, and take a well-earned break before the last 20-minute climb to the very top where a glorious vista of Fukushima awaits. On your way back down, be sure to ring the bell announcing your successful climb.
Winter sports lovers take note. From beginner to experienced, Mt. Bandai offers an array of skiing and snowboarding courses as well as lessons for first-timers. After a trip down the slopes blanketed in soft, powdery snow, it won’t be hard to understand why Fukushima is known as snow country. You might even catch a glimpse of the majestic swans landing at the nearby Lake Inwashiro after their long migration from Siberia.