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!

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

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 Sasaguri: 畝原山・Uneharasan and Pilgrimage Walking

I had set out with a particular hike in mind but a closed path had other plans for me. Luckily, I was in Sasaguri which is famous for its 88 temple pilgrimage walk. It takes about 3 days to complete so obviously I did not get it done while accidentally stumbling into it, but I would absolutely love to do it all sometime this year.

I got a beet dyed onigiri with pickled plum at the station before I left, it was so good! The weather forecast a rainy morning but I had faith it would clear up. Personally I really like the atmosphere in the rain on the mountains, and it’s nice to have the place to myself!

There were rice paddies, temples and wild wisteria EVERYWHERE. I had never seen wild wisteria that wasn’t supported by structures to spread them wide so I had no idea how hugely tall they could get.

Along the pilgrimage walk was a little more populated. There were a number of abandoned cars and appliances, my favourite road-side mushrooms and miso for sale, and of course more wisteria.

One of the reasons I wanted to come hear was for the waterfalls and the dam, and I was not disappointed. I was really surprised by the Henro 88 trail, it was so sweet and well done. I really can’t wait to go back. At this point I circled back to the train station I came from but decided to head south to keep on the pilgrimage path a while.

There was more beautiful waterfalls, strange debris and bamboo everywhere I went.

It was not the hike I had planned at all but I am so happy I got the chance to explore Sasaguri a little!

As always, here is my course on Yamap.

Hiking in Daizaifu: Sangunsan・三郡山 (935m) and Waterfall Edition

One of the most popular hikes in Fukuoka is Hōmanzan, which I’ve done a few times but never added Sangunsan・三郡山 to the route. Between the two summits there are a lot of little waterfalls and streams I wanted to check out.

The summit of Sangunsan is a lot like Sefuri. Wrapped with barbed wire and quite industrial. Oh well, it was nice to check it off the list and there was a nice spot so sit and have lunch.

Just beyond there, I climbed down to see the waterfalls. It was so cute! The tsubaki flowers had recently fallen and the ground was covered with them. Against the green mossy rocks and sounds of water trickling everywhere it was pretty magical.

A familiar view, at the top of Hōmanzan. The only surprise here was how quiet it was! It was a nice surprise as it’s often quite crowded at the top.

The way down to the shrine is always really lovely.

I’ve done this hike a few times but had somehow forgot it was a touch of a challenge, so I’m a bit more tired and sore than I thought I would be today. But good practice for my hike coming up this week!

Of course here is the course I took on Yamap.

Hiking In Aburayama・油山 Round 2: Sakura Edition

It was a gorgeous sunny day so I headed back to Aburayama to see the cherry blossoms over there. I can see Aburayama from my bedroom window every morning so it was fun to go back. Since it was my second time there I didn’t take as many photos but it was still incredibly nice.

On the walk back home ( I love I can walk home from the mountain so much) I passed by the most beautiful little stretch of river with lots of trees and petals raining down, it was such a nice end to the hike!

Here’s my path 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 in Yufuin: 由布岳・Mount Yufu and Onsen Edition

I’m about a week behind with my postings! Last week was a national holiday in Japan so I took advantage and made it a 4-day weekend. We decided to explore around Kyushu a little bit and started out in the onsen (public bath house/hot spring) town of Yufuin in Oita prefecture. I had read a little about 由布岳・Mount Yufu (or Yufudake) and wanted to give it a try in between near-constant snacking and relaxing in out in-room private onsen.

It was a beautiful sunny day, from the bottom. The top, not so much! But that was ok. It was a great up with beautiful views until I ran into the clouds.

It was very cloudy and windy but I ran into some nice people. When you go up Mount Yufu, there are 2 summits; east and west. I stuck to the east because the west is notoriously perilous and I was missing my hiking partner. But there’s always next time!

After the summit, I decided to take the road less travelled down. I ran into maybe 5 people and they all asked me why I hadn’t put on my crampons yet…. Well, I don’t own any, yet! It was quite snowy and they descent was full of chains and steep areas. Luckily I can now truthfully say I have gotten over my fear of ropes because I had so much opportunity to practice and get comfortable!

After the majority of the deep snow and ropes I sat down for a matcha set, though admittedly slightly different from usual. The scenery changed so much throughout the day; the mossy area was so sweet and calm.

The grasslands and rolling hills are incredible too, I can’t wait to see it in summertime. After the hike I was a little exhausted, it had been a bit more challenging than I thought for the descent so was very happy to get apple and cereal ice cream as a little treat nearby.

The next morning, after much relaxing in onsen, we went to Kinrin lake and then off to get more snacks. Yufuin was really cute, I’d love to go back sometime and explore around more. After this, we were southward bound!

How could I forget, here is my course on Yamap!

Hiking In Aso: A Continuation of the Most Amazing Place

This is another day from my hiking trip last week, a little further south in Aso which is very famous for it’s beautiful scenery, nature and parks. Even the drive up (left photo) was incredible.Our first hike was a quick little warm-up on Mount Eboshi・烏帽子岳 (right photo). We started off close to the crater and just did a quick loop around.

The view from the top! It felt so different from the scenery the day before in Kuju, an hours drive away.

Back at the bottom where we started, you can spot my friend in the bottom right picture. We took a quick peak close to the crater where we could see some volcanic activity.

It really felt out of this world walking around the peaks. We headed up to Minamidake (South Mountain) and onto Nakedake (Central Mountain). The visual history of the terrain was breathtaking. Again, we were the only ones on the whole mountain range that we saw.

We had another incredible sunset at the top, this time at Nakadake with the active volcano behind us.

We couldn’t resist not using the little burner again so we had cup noodles and coffee. Also, all the restaurants close around 7:30pm so there are not an overwhelming amount of choices at night. Honestly, nothing takes as good as noodles at 1700m with this view.

Eventually we made our way back down and were spoiled with the clouds and sunset. I can’t believe how lucky we had been. The hike before there hadn’t been a cloud in the sky and we were covered in stars so we really got the best of both worlds each day.

It was painful to leave, and now I am constantly searching for the next place to go.

Here is the course we took on Yamap.

Hiking in Kuju・九重 AKA The Most Beautiful Place I Have Ever Been To

Mid-week I took a little vacation so a friend and I could hike around the Aso region. I had been pretty busy with work and had done barely the minimum amount of preparation for the hikes. Which worked out wonderfully, I was completely overwhelmed with the beauty of the place. It is unbelievable to me that these views are so close (kind of) to where I live. We got so lucky in so many ways: weather, trail conditions, no closures due to volcanic activity and we didn’t see a single other person the entire hike. We had the whole mountain range to ourselves and it was something I’ll always remember.

Even though it’s still technically winter it was warmer than I had thought it could be. The ground was still icy but it was very beautiful. In the first part of the trip we walked through some valleys with buried signposts and eventually reached Hutate Pass (bottom left picture). Then it’s time to really start going up. There is this golden grass everywhere and at this time of day it was just magical to climb up (bottom right picture) to the first peak, Mt. Shiroguchi・白口岳.

Here we are at the top, ready to make lunch. I have often seen people using these little campfire burners on hikes and I cannot believe I waited until now to get one. Coffee has never tasted better than it has at 1700m. We had funny ‘just-add-water’ camping food and it was just the best. In the distance you can see the Sleeping Bhuddha made up of the 5 main peaks in Aso.

These are in around the second peak, Mt Inahoshi・稲星山. All this area was formed by volcanic activity, and some of the volcanoes are still active.

At 1786.5m, we made it to Mt Kuju・久住山. It was so windy and incredible. It’s easy to understand how addictive mountain hopping here can get; there are just so many, so close and every view is more beautiful than the last. You can see the crater (right, middle picture) surrounded by mountains and if you look very closely you can see the ash coming from the Nakadake in the distance. Tragically, just after we got to the top my phone completely shut down so the bottom right picture is the last I was able to take for a while. As we were descending the sun went down and I got one last picture (bottom left). There wasn’t a cloud in the sky so our view of the stars was maybe the best I’ve ever seen.

I took all of these photos on my old, half broken phone and wish they could do more justice to reality. It was the best.

Here is the course I took on Yamap