Originally known as Iwahashi-yama, literally a rock ladder to the sky, the renamed Mt. Bandai is no less impressive. Often referred to as 'Aizu's Mt. Fuji', Mt. Bandai is one of the 100 most famous mountains in Japan, and has even been selected as one of the top 100 geographic landmarks in Japan. In 2011, the mountain was certified as a geopark, which is a unified area with geological heritage and international significance, as defined by UNESCO.
There are seven climbing routes for Mt. Bandai, with the trail starting at the Happodai trailhead being the most popular, and easiest route. From the Happodai trailhead, the 3.5 km route takes around 2 hours to reach the summit.
The various routes range from 2 to 4 hours and from 3 to 7 km. At Koubou Shimizu, one of the mountain stops, there are two shops where trekkers can buy drinks, snacks, and souvenirs, but please note that there is no accommodation available.
For many Buddhist mountain fanatics, Mt. Bandai holds a place of great significance. Enichi-ji Temple, located on the southwestern foot of Mt. Bandai, is a popular temple to visit nearby. The mountains situated around the temple make for a serene vista where one can feel the power of nature. Enichi-ji Temple was founded one year after Mt. Bandai erupted, in 807 C.E.; in the past, some superstitious people believed there was a connection between the eruption and the temple’s founding...
Interestingly, Mt. Bandai used to be shaped more like the famous Mt. Fuji, but after a volcanic eruption in 1888, the shape changed to what we see today. It is thanks to that eruption that the mountain gained its rugged, sharp look and the Urabandai area behind Mt. Bandai was created. For non-hikers, the Bandaisan Gold Line is a popular sightseeing road that leads up the southwestern side and offers brilliant vistas of the foliage, especially in autumn when the colors change.