The highest point is called Karakuni-dake (韓国岳), which means Korea-peak, and some posts say that it is in reference to being able to see Korea from the summit. We stayed a while at the summit, and I saw no Korea. (To be fair, even if I did see it, I probably would not have recognized it haha)
Oh, for this mountain, hike feasibility depends on both weather alert (buses don't run with strong typhoons) and volcanic alert.
Budget: JPY4,260 (~USD41)
When to Go
Anytime during the year!
- JPY950. Local train, Kagoshima-chuo Station to Kirishimajingu Station
- JPY1,140. Bus, Kirishimajingu Station <> Kirishima-Iwasaki Hotel (JPY570 one way)
- JPY700. Bus, Kirishima-Iwasaki Hotel <> Trailhead (JPY350 one way)
- JPY1,470. Express train, Kirishimajingu Station to Kagoshima-chuo Station
- December 25, 2020. I have done this hike as part of a week long Kyushu hikes.
- Difficulty: 3 out of 5.
- Route below is around 7.6kilometers, with an elevation change of ▲760m/ ▽633m
- PDF Map Link: via Public Transport / via car
When to Go
Anytime during the year!
- The highest point is called Mt. Karakuni (韓国岳).
- Weather check: English / Japanese.
- Volcanic alert. As this is an active volcano, they may block the access to the mountain depending on the alert level. Here's the English website, and rest assured it is up to date.
- Ebi-no-kogen (えびの高原). Google maps pin here. For those who want to use a car navigation, a nearby building's phone number is 0984-33-1108. Access as follows:
- Train, Kagoshima Station to Kirishima-Jingū Station (霧島神宮駅), JPY950 one way, earliest train leaves at 5:39am and gets there at 6:28am.
- Bus, Kirishima-Jingū Station (霧島神宮駅) to Kirishima-Iwasaki Hotel (霧島いわさきホテル ). JPY570 one way, earliest bus at 8:04am. Bus schedule here, look for "霧島いわさきホテル～霧島神宮～国分".
- Bus, Kirishima-Iwasaki Hotel (霧島いわさきホテル ) to trailhead. JPY350 one way. As far as I can see, the bus runs throughout the year. But check the website for updates. For example, they cancel the buses during typhoons.
Bus schedule, Kirishima-Iwasaki Hotel (霧島いわさきホテル) to Ebi-no-kogen (えびの高原) / Ounamiike-tozanguchi (大浪池登山口)
The pink one is the original per website, but I found it difficult to read so I prepared another summary.
- Ounamiike-tozanguchi (大浪池登山口). Same as above, but different bus stop.
- Mountain huts.
- Paid: None.
- Free: 韓国岳避難小屋 overlooking the crater.
- Camping: None.
- 06:00am. Drive, Kagoshima-chuo Station to Ebinokogen..
- 08:00am. ETA: Ebinokogen. Start hike.
- 10:00am. ETA: Summit. One hour break. Loop around the lake.
- 01:40pm. ETA: Ebinokogen. Drive back to Kagoshima-chuo Station.
- 06:17am. Drove from Kagoshima to Ebinokogen.
- 08:00am. Arrived at Ebinokogen parking lot. There's a big restroom next to the parking lot, and we just walked towards the mountains, and soon enough the signs for the trailhead were there.
- 08:20am. Started hike, following the trail signs for Mt. Karakuni (韓国岳), the highest point . It started flat, and once the steep section started, it didn't really end until the summit. There were stations in this mountain, with station 10 as the top (10合目). The trail was cordoned off and thus well marked, with the station markers having English translations too.
- 09:35am. We've left the tree line and thus have zero cover, and I had to crouch a couple of times given the strong winds.
- 09:39am. Arrived at the summit! It was a rocky summit with strong winds! It was a struggle to stay at the top, but we did because it was also gorgeous!
- 09:59am. We've started our descent. From here on, it was all stairs until we reached the lake. With the strong winds and the extremely steep stairs, that made for a scary descent. Nothing technical, I'm just scared of heights.
- 10:40am. Arrived at the entry to the lake. We turned left - just follow the fence. It was predominantly flat with some gentle slopes. The biggest descent/ascent was at the other side of the lake.
- 12:08pm. Finished the loop of the lake. We continued on to the trailhead - Ebinokogen or Ebino Highlands (marker has English translation). Similar to the loop around the lake, the trail was very gentle.
- 12:50am. We arrived at the road, turned right, and followed the road to the parking lot.
- 12:58pm. Arrived at Ebinokogen. We had lunch, and rested for a while.
- 02:30pm. Started our drive from Ebinokogen.
|Our day started watching the sunrise while driving.|
|At the parking lot. Next to the blue car on the right is the sign pointing to the trailhead (登山口), which goes to the right, behind the blue car. Look for 韓国岳登山口, pictured below.|
|The entrance to the trailhead.|
|Trailhead to the highest point of Kirishima.|
|The path is clearly marked, with the path we were not allowed to take clearly marked too.|
|Viewing area for a crater, and a rest spot if needed.|
|Continuing the hike. This is most of the trail going up.|
|Though some parts were covered in snow.|
|The windy approach to the summit.|
|Crater right next to the summit.|
|Summit marker! I couldn't really walk around as the place was rocky with strong winds, so I mainly hunkered down for a while.|
|A view of the other crater. I doubt that can be hiked though, as it was puffing smoke throughout the day.|
|The rare cloud-free glimpse of the crater lake we will loop around in. The descent is next to the signs on the lower right of this picture.|
|Stairs! And strong winds! Oh, some of the stairs were creaky and unstable.|
|aaaand more stairs!|
|Finally, at our loop on the lake, the trail went back to "big stones", with a really gentle slope.|
|The blue crater lake.|
|With Kirishima behind it.|
|The descent to the mountain hut, halfway through the loop.|
|aaaand Karakuni is covered in clouds. Again.|
|Inside the mountain hut. It's not really a sleeping hut.|
|The toilet also requires bringing your own portable toilet. I just did my business behind some bushes.|
|Finally finished the lake loop. We followed the trail to Ebino Highlands.|
|The path back to the trailhead.|
|It was a nice walk.|
|Back at the road. We turned right.|
|Enjoyed the view of Karakuni.|
|Back at the trailhead. There's a restaurant (just one) here, the one at the innermost stall.|
|Soon, we were on our way to Beppu!|