Hiking in Itoshima: Kanodake・叶岳 Edition

I went to Kanodake・叶岳 last year for New Years and it was a really nice hike and its extremely accessible by public transit so it was a good candidate for the first hike in a while.

I took a different trail entrance and got up the the main shrine really quickly. The last time I was here there was snow everywhere and I ate cold salad and cold hard-boiled eggs and the next day I bought a camping stove.

Because its so accessible, you can get some nice city views. Admittedly, not my favourite type of view compared to ocean or mountain range but, hey, variety is nice.

It’s that time of year when it’s no longer wintery cold but not too much is blooming yet either. Which is great, not too hot or cold or too many people around ( I saw 5 people). Took a little coffee and snack break before getting a few little peaks in.

The earlier part of the day was overcast but the sun came out when I got to my final summit. A lot of the mountains in Itoshima have these 山ナビ Box・Mountain Navigation Box that have little wooden tokens with the summit info on them for free and some maps. I got mine last time I was here so I will save them for future hikers.

Every time I’m out hiking I seem to find these massive abandoned structures and facilities from sometime ago when it used to be a popular area for something or other. I’m not super certain what these buildings were for but it was a beautiful area.

The way back to the station was lovely, and as always there were vegetable stands and flowers and it’s nice to look back on what you’ve just hiked. Also, I almost never get these hot canned soups from the vending machines (which are everywhere) but this corn potage really hit the spot.

If I’m being completely honest, I came to this area because I wanted to come get this taiyaki sweet from Nippon Ichi Taiyaki. Typically I get the sweet potato filling but their farmer was out so I got the white bean paste instead and it was so good. It was just so good, I ate it as slowly as possible to really savour it. Taiyaki is typically red bean paste or custard filled so its great to try new flavours. Perfect end to the hike.

And as always here is my route on Yamap!

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 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.

Hiking in Itoshima: Nijodake・二丈岳 Edition

I saw a sunny window in the middle of a rainy week and I jumped at the chance to get out this morning. I headed out east to Itoshima, where I’ve been hiking a few times but not on this path. It was lovely! The views there are usually quite pretty because its so close to the ocean.

I walked from the station to the trailhead, where there was a bit of an jump up. Good to set the tone for the hike! It was a lot of kind of steep uphill but it was very beautiful. A couple hours later I made it to the summit.

This is maybe the 4th little token I’ve collected hiking in Itoshima, they are such a great idea. I found a few boulders and had my lunch with a view.

I can’t believe how lucky I got with the weather after this gray week. I found some pretty fields, shrines, and waterfalls! Which were all looking good thanks to this weeks rain. And a cool foot bridge.

Hiking course complete! So I made my way down to a different station, walking along the country side homes, in Japanese its called ‘inaka’. One of my all time favourite things about inaka is the food!

More often than not I get lucky and find these little side-of-the-road, honour-system food stalls. Typically they are produce but in Sasaguri I got miso, and today I bought pickled daikon! I love them so much.

I love, love, love summit-to-sea hikes, and again this is pretty easy to do in Itoshima. After splashing around in waterfalls and getting a ton of sun it was so nice to dip my toes in the ocean and relax a bit before heading back home. I was so happy and lucky to get out today and really hope I can sneak in another hike during rainy season.

As always, check out my course on Yamap!

Hiking in Itoshima: Tonbōyama・十坊山 535m Edition

Recently the state of emergency was lifted in Fukuoka so I finally organized another group hike. It was so nice to see familiar faces enjoying time outdoors again. We went out west to Itoshima for a nice, easy hike and it was just a lovely day.

There was so, so, so many mikan (citrus fruit) along the entrance and descent of the hike. On the way up we saw the cutest little train trolley for picking fruit that I have ever seen.

The trail up was really nice and gentle, with lots of beautiful greenery.

At the summit of Tonbōyama is a giant rock that is really fun to climb up. As soon as we got to the top it became a little cloudy but we still got to see the ocean and a nice panoramic view around up.

One thing I love hiking is all the little cute things people add (that are not harmful!) like this little sakura amulet tied to this tree, that has 5 trunks emerging from the base, like the 5 petals of a sakura blossom. Unfortunately it wasn’t in bloom, yet!

On the way down we walked in and out of little streams and got some mini waterfalls as the sun came out again.

Of course it’s spring and we got to see sakura blossoms (early), ume blossoms (late), and white camellias and so many others.

In Itoshima it’s really easy to do sea-to-summit (or the reverse) hikes and that is definitely part of the magic of the place. We finished off dipping our toes into the sand before heading back. It was a wonderful day and a great, relaxing hike.

In Japan March 14th is White Day, which is closer to a western Valentine’s Day. Now men give chocolates or presents to their one sweetheart, after February 14th women give chocolate to their friends, colleagues, crushes, everyone. It’s a little different, but at least there is no shortage of sweets. I’m a lucky girl and recieved these really beautiful sakura, tea, and strawberry chocolates.

Now just wondering what the next seasonal thing might be…

As always, here is the hike on Yamap!

Hiking Mount Thunder・雷山

This hike has been at the top of my list since I got to Fukuoka. At 955m, it’s the highest I’ve done so far since moving here. It was definitely more physically challenging than the others, in a really fun way, I think my bouldering classes have paid off.

There was a little more snow than I was expecting and a lot more mud. It was a pretty fun slide around near the summit. Raizan has everything; steep climbs, waterfalls, open fields. Snow. Abandoned pools.

View from atop the rock: one of my favourite Japanese scenes, the hazy rolling hills. When we got to the summit it wasn’t always crystal clear but it was still really beautiful.

I have no idea what these things are. Weird orange thing, snowy plants, some interesting mosses.

Of course there are shrines throughout the mountain, including this larger one.

After the summit there is a rest house that is very industrial looking, not like any of the other rest sites I’ve seen in Japan. We found an abandoned camp site, complete with abandoned pool but couldn’t get too close.

We still had some time with the rental car so we raced out to the far side of Itoshima to catch the sunset. Still a little hazy but so beautiful.

It’s easy to see why everyone loves Itoshima so much, you can really get the ocean and mountains easily in 1 day. It was an amazing hike and I would love to go back and see more.

And as always here is my route on Yamap.

Roses are red, violets are blue, this mochi is soy sauce based, dreams do come true!

Red roses, berries and mochi

This is a 醤油餅・shōyu mochi, or soy sauce mochi, but its quite lightly flavoured and mixed with white bean. The salty, smooth, sticky, sweet is really nice. It reminds me of mitarashi dango at festivals a little bit. It’s made out on the coast at Itoshima Dango but I bought them at the grocery store near me. Most of the little local places are still on their New Years holidays so I’ve been going to the more major grocery stores lately. They will open again soon and I will run back with open arms.

初登り・Hatsu-Nobori! New Year’s Hiking in Kanōdake

I was so excited for this hike. New Year’s in Japan is more family focused and quiet instead of countdowns and parties. It’s full of traditions (food) and an important part for a lot of families is hatsumōde, the first shrine visit of the year. Kanōdake叶嶽 (314m) is a beautiful place that holds New Year celebrations; the first kanji means to wish. So by coming here on the first day of the year my 2021 wishes will come true.

Earlier in the week I came as a practice hike. It was 15 degrees and I was wearing my new Canadian under layers that I got from my parents for Christmas and almost died in the heat.

On the way up to the top Kanōdake, the where the shrine of the same name is, as well as these beautiful tori gates, I’ve never seen one this periwinkle colour. I had to giggle at “Click here for the summit” signs posted throughout. In the Japanese version, you don’t have to click.

View from the top, a little chestnut in the wild and some beautiful stairs.

This is from the top of neighbouring Takasuyama・高祖山 (416m). A little wooden charm that you can keep as a souvenir and write the date on.

Can’t go to Itoshima without getting a taiyaki! This one is sweet potato paste from Nippon Ichi and I go there every time I’m in Imajuku.

Then I came back on January 1st with a small group. We got a new year surprise and there was a little more snow than I anticipated.

At the shrine the were giving out sake and sweets with ・wish imprinted on the side. We prayed and made our wishes and at Takasuzan there were special new wooden charms.

I’m so happy I got to go hiking with them today and that this year is over.  けましておめでとうございます!

And of course, here is the path I took on Yamap. Hope this is a lovely year for everyone and all your wishes come true!

Hiking in Kayasan・可也山

Taken near the 365m peak

East of Fukuoka is Itoshima, famous for beaches, oysters, salt and some truly beautiful views. This is my first hike in the area and also my first solo hike. Armed with many different map apps I got rewarded with what must be the best panoramic views in the prefecture.

Here is the path I took on Yamap!

There is a funny little swing right after the initial ascent. Like a few places I’ve hiked around Japan, there are poles to borrow. Near Tokyo I have seen boars, snakes, and deer but today I found chickens and a tanuki? Very magical.

View from the top! I love love love the views up here, my camera absolutely does not do it justice. The trail itself was fine. The first 40~ minutes are pretty challenging but after that it’s pretty smooth sailing.

And, view from the bottom! Along the coast there are lots of oyster huts where you can get super fresh seafood, it’s popular here to barbecue oysters here on a grill. Next time I won’t bring a lunch.

There’s a zillion things I want to come back to Itoshima to check out. Mostly food, but there is a lot more hiking to be done here too!