• Dai-sen
  • 1729 m
  • Primary factor 1634 m
  • Japan
  • Location Dai-sen : North N35.37120, E133.54634 (GPS on the summit.)
  • Location Misen : North 35.37078, East 133.53917 (GPS on the summit)
  • Difficulty: YDS class 2+ (Misen is YDS class 1)
  • Misen climbed, Daisen attempted August 5. 2016.
  • Climbed October 10. 2019.


How to get there:
This mountain is located on the north coast of the very western part of the main Japanese island of Honsu. The location is west of Tottori, but east of the lakes near Matsue and Yonago.
There are trails to the false summit called Misen from the west and from the north. The trail from the north, perhaps the most popular, starts from a well known temple area. Locate a small parking lot at location N35.39075, E133.53123, elevation about 785 meter. This is a good place to park and a convenient trailhead. To proper trailhead for the summit climb
Route description:
To Misen peak, not the summit.
Walk right (when facing uphill) from the parking lot, you will then almost immediately locate steps that lead uphill and soon merges with the main trail. This trail initially consists of stone steps that head directly uphill. Next, a more normal trail, improved with man made steps in many places, continues uphill. There are signs for every 100 meter of elevation. Higher up, there is a small shelter building, the trail then carries on to reach the main crest. Some trails merge in from your right as the trail largely turns into a board-walk passing a hut shortly before reaching the Misen summit at 1709 meter.
This mountain was severely affected by an earthquake about 15 years ago. Since there is no solid rock, the quake made several sections of the hillside avalanche. The result is now a very unstable ridge with numerous smaller slides. From the Misen summit, one may see the beginning of the ridge that continues with several ups and downs to the highest point, called Daisen Komagene at 1729 meter. The Misen summit has some ropes to prevent people from walking any further and a posted sign that says "KEEP OUT" in English and most likely, some similar message in Japanese. To what extent this is meant to discourage or prohibit any further advance towards the true summit is unclear.

The continuation along the ridge requires care. There seems to be no solid rock anywhere, just loose gravel. One may clearly see that there is a lot of erosion, local slides that keep eating away on the main ridge. After an initial short descent, an old, overgrown trail bypasses the top ridge on the left side. Next, the route more or less follows the top ridge. Care is needed as the ground may collapse and avalanche down, mostly to your right hand side in the beginning. After some more balancing, one arrives at a pretty ugly section. We decided to turn around as this sort of terrain offers little, but trouble. Who knows when a larger piece of ground decides to avalanche down the side and off the cliffs further down?
Here is a quick summary of peaks climbed in my trip to Japan.
The trail that will get you to the proper summit::
Starting from the parking (below the road), cross the road and locate the big sign next to a small road that heads uphill. Take this road. Just before it ends, the trail exits left (in order to avoid some construction work, 2019), then turns right and cross the dry river bed in order to circumvent the concrete wall. Stay near the river bed and pass a second concrete wall. Next, the trail enters the forest, but stays parallel, do not ascend right. Near location N35.36314, E133.54607, elevation around 1210 meter, the trail again turns left and enters the river bed. (There is a path marked with some ribbons that ascends right in this area, do not go that way!)
Shortly, the trail will pass a concrete wall on its left side. There is a steepish concrete ramp here and a rope has been fixed to help people walk up it. The trail will stay in the open (scree) as it zig-zags higher. Note, however, that the trail forks off to the right at location N35.36763, E133.54742, elevation around 1390 meter. One may also fork right sligtly higher, but at the latest around 1400 meter of elevation. Next follows a fairly steep section, rocks with some scree. Near the main ridge, the trail turns more left, ignore smaller forks going right (uphill). You will soon be on the main ridge, the path stays pretty much on the top, with some narrow sections that should be walked with care. At the very end the path traverses a bit on the right hand side through vegetation, then emerges on the ridge a few steps from the big summit marker.
August 5th.:
We started from the parking area at 0810. This turned out to be the warmest hike on our entire trip. Humidity was high and the trail is mostly uphill steps. Several brief stops to drink from our water bottles were called for. Quite a lot of people on this trail as well. We sensed a slight change from Haku, fewer older people here and many more younger.
We made the official (false) summit at 0950, so 1:40 from the car to the top. After a short break, we stepped across the barrier and started to explore the ridge that disappeared into the clouds/fog. There were several people around at the official summit, nobody seemed to mind that we passed the big sign that had been posted.
The first section of the ridge was not too bad and it got us to a second section that was perfectly fine. Unfortunately, this did not last. The terrain certainly required care and attention. No solid rock anywhere. Loose gravel that clearly kept eroding and sliding down, mostly to our right hand side in the beginning. Some sections required balancing on the very top, the trouble is that even what you step on is likely to fall down, if not today, then in the not so distant future.
We eventually arrived at a section that looked unpleasant indeed. Only loose material, steeper cliffs below (in the fog). It looked as if the best approach would be to traverse into the left side (when looking ahead), an ice axe would have been helpful with all this loose soil. Traversing left to the next small side ridge that blocked our view, then consider the options, most likely some sort of uphill climb to regain the top ridge. The true summit was not far ahead and perhaps this was indeed the crux part? We do not know. The only thing that was absolutely certain, this is not a nice place to be, ugly conditions.
We discussed the options a bit, then decided to call it a day and turn back. We carried a rope in case we needed to protect a steepish section, however, there was absolutely nothing / nowhere to attach a rope to. Loose soil and gravel everywhere.
We turned around and made it safely back to the Misen summit. We left the Misen summit at 1100, the exploration of the top ridge had taken us about one hour. Back at the car at 1215, we now wanted to drive onwards, aiming for an overnight in the city of Kitakyushu, the beginning of our next island.

October 10th.:
After visiting Ontake on October 9th., I travelled by train to Yonago, in order to also do Dai-sen and thus complete the 21 Ultras in Japan. My train arrived around 2030 and I had booked myself in a guesthouse only a few hundred meter from the railroad station.
I booked a taxi for 0630 and slept well until 0600. The taxi was ready shortly before the agreed upon time and we arrived at the trailhead around 0700. I paid about 5500 JPY and said goodbye to the driver. Heading up the small road, Dai-sen was already bright in the morning sun. I soon found the trail at the end of the road and walked gently uphill on the left side of the dry river. The trail turned right and climbed steeply uphill. There were red plastic ribbons and even the remains of an old rope so I did not realize at first, that I was off-route. I made a pretty sharp ridge and consulted my GPS, I was off-route! A smart guy would have turned around immediately, however having climbed this ridge, I thought that this route (somebody clearly walked her possibly long time ago), would connect higher up. I continued along this sharp ride, unfortunately, it got worse, not better. Having wasted 30 minutes, it was hard to turn, but finally, common sense prevailed over me being stubborn. I was back down on the correct route shortly before 0900, almost one hour spent on a pretty bad ridge.
The ascent to the main crest was now easy, traversing along the top is certainly a bit exposed in places. Care is needed, no clumsy step here. The weather was near perfect, but a breeze came across the ridge and called for extra awareness. I arrived at the very impressive summit marker precisely at 1000. From here, I had clear view down the ridge that we attempted from Misen in 2016. It does not look bad, but many issues are hidden from this view. The ridge I just had traversed looked pretty impressive as well.

This marked my completion of the 21 ultra prominent mountains in Japan. I finished at 10 sharp on the 10th. day of the 10th. month in 2019. The two peaks on this trip, Ontake and Dai-sen, were visited, but not climbed on my visit in 2016.
This time, they took 43 hours measured from I left Hong Kong on Tuesday afternoon.
I descended back down to the road at 1015, this took one hour, then got a ride with the 3rd. car that passed me on the main road. Thanks are due to an elderly couple that then drove me all the way to the nearest train station, called Hoki Mizoguchi. This turned out to be a very local station, the first train to Yonago would leave in about 1:15, at 12:55. I was in no hurry, so explored the local town a little before catching this train. In Yonago, I got a 1428 train with connection in Okayama, then the 300km/h train to Nagoya, arriving there at 1830. Plenty of time to make the last local train to the airport where I had a sleeping capsule booked for 2100. Small and cozy. Finally, a 0940 flight back to Hong Kong the next morning.