It has been my good fortune to scale Japan's 2nd tallest peak 3 times....Oct. 2, '93, Sept. 16, '96, and Aug. 12, '11. The sunrise views of Mt. Fuji on my trip 2 weeks ago were breathtaking. Pics, maps, & trail description are here: http://www.garyjwolff.com/sp-notori
Could only catch the bus from Kofu as far as Ashayasu then left on foot around 1pm. Got to Yashajin (which is where the private cars must stop) just in time for a hot soba bowl before closing time at the small restaurant. The road to Hirogawara has not opened yet for summer season so I took the trail and camped outside the near cabin. On day 2 I got to another cabin on the southeast ridge and slept around 5pm. On day 3 I got an early start, traversed over the peak, carefully navigated through snow on the upper reaches to come down on the main ascent trail. Eventually the patches of snow got thinner and I arrived at Hirogawara and made the long road march back to Ashayasu before crashing at the sheltered bus stop.
During the trek, I only saw 3 other folks enjoying the Minami Alps. An elderly Japanese couple on their way flyfishing. I was shocked when he told me had visited Yosemite 6x and climbed Zodiac!! The other guy, also Japanese, was in his early to mid twenties and looked like he just stepped out of the REI catalog, he had two of everything. He camped above me on the ridge on the second day then turned around because of bad weather and post-holing. It was a little windy and it started raining a few hours later, but the snow conditions were pretty fine. In addition to the three people, I saw an equal number of black bears: 2 on the ascent and one on the descent.
Town at the base shuts down for winter, resulting in a 12-mile appoach on the road.
Perfect weather, brilliant view from the summit.
Several changes of plans, but ended up again on the summit. Lovely fall colors and much less crowded then the last time.
Good climb, good weather.