Mt Minobu (身延山)

16 February 2024
Mt Minobu (身延山)

Mt Minobu (身延山 Minobu-san) is one of Yamanashi's 100 Famous Mountains, and most famous for its 750 year old Kuon-ji Temple, which attracts over a million visitors a year. I think I went in the very, very off-season, because when I visited on a weekday at the beginning of February, it was very quiet and I saw almost no hikers. Mt Minobu is also featured in the anime Yuru Camp, so there was some anime-themed goods available at the shop near the summit.

You start off the hike by passing the Kuon-ji Temple.

The course is of medium length (11km) but is very easy to walk since it's mostly road, and so it's quite beginner-friendly. Since there's a ropeway to the summit, this also gives you the option to halve the route if you find that you run out of time.

trail start
The hiking course starts from a road to the right of the ropeway.
A cute little guy praying for everyone's safety.
A golden Buddha
mountain range
Partway up you get some views of the nearby Mt Kenashi (and Mt Fuji is hidden behind clouds on the right).
the view
The view down to the city below.
The gate to the temple near the summit.
summit view
Views from the summit. Unfortunately they weren't too good today!
coffee time
It was very cold today, so I took a much-needed coffee break here.
road down
Starting the path back down. Mostly road.
Some plum blossoms.
red berries
Some red berries, apparently known as "heavenly bamboo" (a pretty fitting name!)

So I didn't really do much research into the historical signifiance of the Kuon-ji temple before the hike, but a Buddhist priest named Nichiren started a branch of Buddhism here on Mt Minobu in the 13th century.

Towards the end of the trail you will pass a large garden with a number of buildings, including the grave site of Nichiren himself, as well as the location which marks the hut where he lived on Mt Minobu.

The grave site of Nichiren
Not too sure what this building is, but it was really pretty.

Near the end of the course I passed through the Sanmon Gate, which is considered the main entrance to the Kuon-ji temple. I actually did this course a little out of order, because I parked in a different carpark, so you'll probably be starting from this gate instead.

The Sanmon Gate - it's huge!
It seems like people tie their shoes to the side of the gate.

From inside of the gate you can see the bodai-tei - the stairway to enlightenment. There's 287 steps with 104m of elevation gain in this one staircase. It's a pretty gruelling walk up, but it felt good to conquer this staircase as the "final boss" of my hike.

287 steps
The bodai-tei stairway

Finally before heading home I stopped off at the ヘルシースパサンロード しもべの湯 onsen. The train station that is right next door is actually named Shimobe-onsen, and so apparently the whole area is known for its onsens.

ヘルシースパサンロード しもべの湯
"Shimobe onsen" visible on the hillside nearby. Almost like the Hollywood sign.

Hiking course details

Date climbedLengthCourse time
2024-02-0211.7km5h45m (the expected time for an average hiker without breaks)

This is a loop course starting and ending near the Kuon-ji temple. The trail itself is mostly road and very easy to walk. There's toilets at both the bottom and top of the summit.

Car access details

Car parkTime
仲町無料 駐車場 (なかちょうむりょう ちゅうしゃじょう)2h50min12027

There's a couple of different car park options but it seems like 仲町無料 駐車場 may be your best bet. Mt Minobu seems like a very popular tourist spot so depending on the time of year I would recommend coming early to grab a spot, otherwise you may need to end up finding paid parking.

Public transport access

The closest train station is Minobu station, which from Tokyo will take you 3 hours of travel time, and 5000 yen one way. From the station you will need to take a taxi or a bus to the temple.

Honestly speaking, I would say for the trail itself there are a lot of other, more-interesting hikes I would recommend you do first over this one. But if you're interested in the Temple itself, or in the historical signifiance of the site then I would say that it's worth it.

Related tags

Check out some of my other posts!

Mt Ashitaka (愛鷹山)
Mt Ashitaka (愛鷹山)
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Mt Hamaishidake (浜石岳)
08 March
Mt Kumotori (雲取山)
Mt Kumotori (雲取山)
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Mt Hodo (宝登山)
Mt Hodo (宝登山)
01 March
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