Hiking in Itoshima: Raizan・雷山 Edition V2

After a very busy October and rather rainy November, I finally got outside again. A last minute decision to go to Raizan, which I went to last winter as well, was exactly what I needed yesterday even if I am more sore that I should be this morning.

We took the opposite route as I did last time and started past the abandoned pool and campsite. Very quickly there were lots of berries, shrines and mini waterfalls.

Even though it’s December, it wasn’t that cold and we had great weather heading up to the top.

There were beautiful clear views from the top, you can even see the ocean peeking out a bit. For lunch I had a famous Fukuoka instant ramen, Ichiran and it was way better than I expected but so is everything you eat at the top of a mountain.

We took the river path down and were treated with countless little streams and wateralls and just really incredible scenery. As you can maybe tell, I was having a great time. It had been nearly 2 months since my last hike! Way too long and it was nice to remember how much I love cooler weather hiking.

This year I was a liiiiiittle bit too late for the autumn leaves but we did see a couple! And of course, no day is complete without snacks. Fresh umegaemochi (toasty mochi filled with red bean) after the hike, then zenzai (red bean and toasty mochi soup) and tea at cutest old school kominka closer to town on the way back. A beautiful, wonderful day! Need to plan for the next hike ASAP.

And as always here is my course on Yamap!

Hiking in Munakata・宗像市: Mt. Yugawa・湯川山 (471m) Edition

The first sunny weekend in August! Here we go, off to the north where I read about a hike that ends at a beach. Here is the first mini mountain range I will climb, its only about 300m high. On the way up I pass through temples and chestnuts.

I was a little worried it would be too hot but it was much, much cooler once I got up a bit. Unsurprisingly, the path was very beautiful and not too bad after the rain we’ve had.

There’s walking sticks, a tiny river and some awfully cute views from the top of Mt. Yugawa・湯川山! I was hoping for a few more views but maybe I need to explore around more.

On the way down I passed though some farms and abandoned cafes. No one reading this will be shocked, but I also found an amazing sweets shop on the way to the shrine at the peak of the cape. The picture taken from the top of the stairs shows the mountain I just came down from.

This is the funniest structure I have ever seen in Japan. Well, I’m happy someone built it so I could see the ocean. I was almost 6 hours into the hike, mid-day at 35 degrees and I was a little tired and evidently too tired to take a single photo of the ocean from up there!

But don’t worry, here’s the snack I got: chilled strawberry warabi mochi. It was the best thing I have ever eaten in my life (it was the first cool thing I had consumed in many hours).

Finally! I made it to the beach. For the first time this summer I kicked off my shoes and went swimming in the ocean. Hard to beat. When I finally got out and made my way over to the bus I met these funny veggies sun-bathing on the street. I might come back next weekend, it was a lovely, easy hike with the perfect ending (and snacks).

And of course, here is my course on Yamap!

Hiking in Shiretoko, Hokkaido・知床、北海道: Mt Shari・斜里岳 Edition

Mt Shari (or Sharidake) seemingly pops out of nowhere and reaches up to 1547m. This is one of the more challenging hikes I’ve done, mainly because it was my first time hiking up a waterfall. There were several hours of boulder hopping along the river and scrambling up waterfalls. It was definitely one of the most fun hikes I’ve ever done, plus there was much less of a concern about bears here.

We were warned about heat stroke (about 15 people have been helicoptered off the mountain during July for heat stroke or injury) but there was enough shade, water and breeze to keep cool.

At the top of the waterfall we had reached the end of the old trail and began the ascent up to the summit.

The way up was absolutely stunning. Without a doubt these are some of my favourite views I’ve had of hiking in Japan. At the top we stopped for lunch and the skies completely opened up in the coolest way.

We were just in the perfect place at the perfect time and the clouds were rolling over us so quickly, there wasn’t 5 minutes that the landscape didn’t change.

Pretty hard to beat. We came down just as the sun started to set. If we didn’t have perfect luck on the previous hike in Rausu, we got it all back here.

The woman who runs the place we were staying is an avid star photographer and when we got back she took our picture with the milky way. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the stars so clear and bright. This was after a 10 hour hike so we were slightly tired.

If you ever get the opportunity, Shiretoko is a must visit and these were some of the most beautiful and challenging and fun hikes I’ve done. I cannot wait to see where we go next.

See the course on Yamap!

Hiking in Shiretoko, Hokkaido・知床,北海道 : Mt Rausu・羅臼岳 Edition

At 1660m Rausu is the highest peak in the Shiretoko mountain range. It’s a perfect day hike at around 8 hours and is a really interesting hike with some good scrambling near the top.

This part of Hokkaido is known as bear paradise, so equipped with bear bells, bear spray and a healthy amount of fear we got pretty lucky with views almost immediately.

Unfortunately as with a lot of hikes with this elevation, there was a cloud near the top when it was time to start scrambling. The walk into the clouds was very moody and interesting though, it’s fun to have a variety.

We had a minor glimpse of a bear so were happy to unload some items in the bear-proof box on the way to the top. Behind me in the top right you can see the summit. The bottom left you can sort of see my friend. Visibility was not great, and it was pretty windy and rainy but the scrambling was very fun in spite of that.

Of course on the descent we walked into the sun and made it back to the trailhead. At the base there is a tiny lodge that has an outdoor bath that was absolutely incredible to soak in after a long day out. It was an amazing, beautiful, incredible hike even without full visibility.

Here is the hike on Yamap!

Hiking in Hokkaido・北海道: Shiretoko Goko・知床五湖 Edition

Southern Japan is predictably hot right now so for vacation a friend and I escaped to the north, Shiretoko in Hokkaido, almost as far north as you can get. The first day was spent pretty relaxed going around the 5 lakes, walked around the peninsula and got bear training for future hikes.

The mountains off in the distance are some that we will climb later in the week. It’s so beautiful here and definitely cooler and quieter than back home.

Back closer to where we are staying there are great sunset views, perfect for dinners and beers on the beach.

Hiking in Kitakyushu: Hiraodai・平尾台 Edition

There are a few summer holidays in July so a few friends and I escaped north of the city to Kitakyushu. Just east of there is a place I’ve had my eye on for ages: Hiraodai. It isn’t so mountainous but is more gorgeous rolling green hills and beautiful views. This group is a big on sunrises so we started our day around 3:30am and were not disappointed. I could not get enough of the morning light.

It was just like out of a dream. On the way to the summit it was a little cloudy but cleared up beautifully later in the hike.

Sometimes (every time) sunrise hikes are a bit challenging but they are so worth it. I wouldn’t be supr keen to try an 8 hour hike on so little sleep but its a great time to do smaller, less physical hikes; especially in the summer heat.

The grass was really up to my waist at some points! It was a lot of fun to go around and play around in.

Believe it or not, I did manage to find some sweets. Matcha kakigōri・かき氷 and anmitsu・あんみつ at a really old school style shop and they were beyond heaven.

Here is my hike on Yamap!

Hiking in Nagasaki: Unzen・雲仙 Edition

Last weekend I took advantage of a train pass sale in Kyushu and made my way over to Nagasaki. I’ve had a lot of fun at a few different national parks in the area and really wanted to see Unzen, and Mt Fugen・普賢岳 (1369m), the highest climbable peak in Nagasaki prefecture. The highest peak is easily viewable from there, but is a semi-active volcano. The last eruption was in 1995 and lasted several months! It did not erupt while I was there.

My first day in Unzen I did a quick hike around the sulphur hot springs, Kinugasayama・絹笠山, Shirakumo lake・白雲池, some little hiking paths and Oshitori lake・おしとり池 with waterfalls a bit south.

The views from the top of Kinugasayama・絹笠山 were so, so beautiful. The mountain you can see beyond the white flowers is the place I would hike the next day.

While going around the hiking paths and Oshitori lake・おしとり池 I found some shrines, ume boshi・梅干し drying in the sun, and importantly: ice cream.

Then off to Shirakumo lake・白雲池 which was about a 5 minute walk from where I was staying.

Here is that days hike on Yamap.

The next day I was off for Mt Fugen・普賢岳!

The trails were all open but the ropeway and attractions were all closed so I only saw a couple other people.

I cannot pretend to understand the science of this, but a few places around the mountain have extremely cool air flowing from within the mountain. When you pass by its quite noticeable, especially on such a hot day. Feels like a ghost although I’m sure its more to do with the geothermal activity. There were also little places where it was disturbingly hot air coming out of spots but luckily there was no volcanic activity.

I made it up to the top after a bit of fun scrambling, unfortunately a little stuck in the clouds but it was still nice.

The walk down was very nice and lush and I had a little sweet potato snack I had gotten earlier on in the village. When I made it back to civilization I bee-lined for this cafe I had seen the day before. One of the specialties is a castella cake parfait with ice cream, mochi and red bean. One of the famous foods in Nagasaki is castella so I could not pass it up.

Here is the course I took on Yamap.

The next day I started making my way to Isahaya for a little bit more light hiking. I took hardly any pictures and didn’t even connect my Yamap. Maybe I was a bit more tired than I thought but it was still very nice.

One of my favorite views of Japan in the hazy rolling hills and rice paddies, and I was spoiled with views from the train.

It was a wonderful trip and I’m so happy I got a chance to check out Nagasaki a bit more.

Hiking in Tachibanayama・立花山: Sunrise Edition

There’s a first time for everything, and today was the day I woke up at 3:00am to go chase the sunrise. A few of us avid hikers drove up and made the quick hike up. Full disclosure! Most of these are my incredibly talented friend’s pictures from his amazing camera and the boring unedited ones are mine.

The sun rises very early in the summer so it was a little brighter than we planned on the way up, but incredibly beautiful.

Even at such a low elevation we were above the clouds, which in this sunrise pic look like the ocean I think.

I’ve been to this area a few times, it’s a pretty popular hike because if it’s accessibility and being beginner-friendly. It was really nice to have the place to ourselves.

It was such a nice start to the day and I would definitely go on another sunrise trek again.

As always, here is my hike on Yamap!

Hiking in Itoshima: Tate Ishi・立石 Edition

Another sunny weekend! Rainy season is no problem if this pattern keeps up. A few people had told me about this very beautiful, mini hike in Itoshima that was a little windy so I was saving it for warmer weather. Itoshima is a bit of a beach town and it was great to explore around.

There are near panoramic view going most of the way up the mountain. Every 3 feet I stopped to take pictures, it’s really a prefect quick hike.

The terrain is unlike anything like I’ve seen in Fukuoka, you can see different rock sediment and its nearly all exposed rock. Most other places have more tree cover or are much softer earth.

These are all 3 different little beaches I popped into. Everything is so close and compact around here so it’s easy to see a lot.

Of course it wouldn’t be a hike without roadside produce! After I got off the course I waslked past some beaches and made my way over to the big rock/mini mountain. I think this is one of the most popular areas in Itoshima, every time I come to Itoshima with people we wind up here. I made my way to the other side of the rock to have lunch.

Maybe unsurprisingly I brought a sweet from Kichi Zoh with me. This one is special for June. It’s called minazuki・水無月 which is the name for June in the old Japanese calendar, before the Gregorian calendar was introduced to Japan. It literally means ‘month with no water’ which is hard to believe because June is rainy season. Interesting Japanese language tidbit, the 無・na typically means: no, none, without. However in old times it was also a possessive particle, so means the month full of water! Learning Japanese is a trip.

Anyway! The sweet minazuki is red bean on jellied mochi and was super good! I think I see more in my future this month.

As always, here is the course I took on Yamap.

Mini Hiking in Saga Prefecture: Kagamiya Edition

Rainy season thankfully took a little break last weekend and a friend and I were able to get out of the city and go on a little hike. It was really beautiful! At the top there were cafes and locally made pottery shops, so quite different than my usual summits!

The locker-looking thing on the left is a fresh egg vending machine. I was kicking myself for having bought a dozen the day before! If you look really closely you can see the times the eggs were laid. I love little spots like this in the countryside and of course love finishing a hike at the beach. I need to start bringing my bathing suit on hikes. Hopefully we get weather this good again this coming weekend!

And here is the course we took on Yamap