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Mount Bandai

Mount Fuji’s northern relative is more rugged, greener, and arguably a more entertaining climb.

Central Japan has Mount Fuji, Fukushima has Mount Bandai: thought of as a relative of its more famous counterpart. Bandaisan might not have all the fame of its sibling, but what does have is fantastic hiking, lush greenery, and outstanding winter sports.

At 1816 meters high, the mountain offers a respectable challenge for experienced hikers. There are two main sides to approach from, each with unique characteristics. The north side is rougher — a result of the volcanic explosion of 1888 — while the south side remains relatively untouched. The most common route to the top is the Happodai trail, which takes around 2.5 hours and wins you fantastic panoramic views.

If you’re more interested in speedy descents than picturesque ascents, then head along to Mount Bandai’s ski resort, which benefits from a nice level of powder snow. Winter is best for adrenaline and action, but if you’d prefer to spend your time on Mount Bandai in quiet contemplation, then the beautiful foliage of fall will provide a fantastic backdrop.

No matter which time of the year you visit, the Fuji of Aizu has plenty to offer.

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