Kyushu’s answer to Mount Fuji offers a unique trail and spectacular views on the coast of Kagoshima.
Mount Kaimon, or Kaimondake, is a dormant volcano located on the southern coast of Kagoshima Prefecture in Kyushu. The mountain’s perfectly conical shape has earned it the nickname ‘Satsuma Fuji’ for its resemblance to the iconic Mount Fuji and with “satsuma” being an old province of Japan that is now the western half of Kagoshima. However, Kaimon is a much easier hike than Fuji.
Standing 924 meters tall, it offers a reasonably challenging climb for even experienced hikers. The trail is an interesting one that winds all the way around the mountain with no switchbacks or monotonous paved sections. You’ll find yourself climbing over exposed tree roots and scrambling over rocks as you make your way to the summit.
The trailhead is about a 30-minute walk from Kaimon station, and there are signs showing you the way. For drivers, there is a parking lot at the base. You can also find toilets and vending machines here if you need them.
There’s only one route to the top, and you follow the same path back down from the summit. It’s well signposted, so there’s no need to worry about getting lost. Ropes, ladders and stairs are also in place to assist climbers in the trickier sections.
When you reach the top you’ll be rewarded with a breath-taking panoramic view of the surrounding area. When the weather is clear, you can see across the ocean all the way to Yakushima, an island 61 kilometers off the coast of Kagoshima. The climb is an approximately 4-5 hour round trip to the summit and back depending on your level of fitness – and how much time you spend admiring the view!
Good to know
You can climb Mount Kaimon pretty much all year round, but it’s advisable to avoid the winter season as it may get icy at the top. There are no water sources on the mountain, so be sure to bring enough with you.
For you ambitious hikers, here’s 10 more mountains to hike in Japan.