My wife and I went to Japan over the past week and it was amazing. We spent good time checking out temples in Kyoto and Nara, then went up to the Japan Alps and then to Kyoto to explore by bike. We climbed a mountain called Yarigatake on Sept. 4 based on the nudge from McCannster: http://www.summitpost.org/mountain/rock/153499/yariga-take.html
It is about 27 miles round trip and elevation gain of 5000 feet. We basically did a round trip with a short different route on a ridge on the way down.
The mountains were amazing. We stayed in Kamikochi on the first night at a lodge. Were off at 5:30am and made good time on the flats to Yokoo Sanso. We saw Macaques on the trail in early morning. We kept going without much for breaks except for my usual photos. Most of the elevation is in the second half of the hike and we were pretty famished by the time we got to the Sessho Hut for the best meal we had in Japan (rice bowl with beef, ginger, onions and spices). Our hunger and nearly 7 hours of hiking probably had something to do with it. We continued on to our hut on the ridge and climbed to the peak via rock, ladder & chains (I didn't need to use the chains). It is a pitty that they put all of the metal on the mountain but this mountain has religious significance and many people climb it and most would not be able to without the aids.
We did the hike to the Yarigatake Sanso in 7 hours which apparently is pretty fast (Everyone said 8-10 hours and many people do it over 2 days). We stayed in the hut overnight with 8 other Japanese folks in our room. We were the only other foreigners there except for one worker who was a girl from Australia who hadn't had a day off in 50 days! After dinner was an amazing sunset and the next morning we had a great sunrise as well. We headed down in 6 hours via a ridge route. We could have been faster but my wife injured her ankle and we had to slow down for the last 5 miles or so.
This weekend was the anniversary of when the first monk climbed the mountain and they were to have some big ceremony up there after we left. We were quite glad to be down before all the hubbub. On our hike up on Friday we saw about 30 people. It was cloudy the whole time which made for perfect hiking weather. On the way down we saw about 500 people! In all of those, only about 3 looked to be foreigners. The mountain hut systems were amazing and cost about $90 per person including breakfast and dinner. They have other cost options as well. We do not speak the language and made it everywhere just fine. The vending machines have beer. The transportation is fantastic throughout the country. We traveled via bullet train, local train, bus, subway, cab & bike all without any hiccups.
Our picks here of the whole trip. Japan Alps are in the middle (you can view this even without a Facebook account):
A few more here: http://www.purelightimages.com/layout/0001/gallery_view.cfm?startrow=1&g=82