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 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 Kirishima Kinkowan National Park Part 1: 韓国岳・Mount Karakuni Edition

The only good Mondays are vacation Mondays! This was from our hike last week down in the south of Kyushu, in Kagoshima. While I have been typically lucky with the weather while hiking, my luck ran out on this hike! I had chosen Kirishima specifically for the breathtaking views, and I cannot wait to come back to see those views someday because I didn’t see much on this trail. At best, it was cloudy; at worst I couldn’t see 5 meters in from of my face. But! That doesn’t mean it did not have wonderful highlights.

The first part of the hike is known as the lake viewing trail. Luckily, I was able to see a couple lakes after the clouds cleared when we double backed on the trail. Kirishima, like a lot of Japan, is heavy with volcanoes that contribute to the amazing scenery. This area is still quite active! On February 1st, just a few weeks earlier there was enough volcanic activity that some of the trails and roads were too dangerous (lethal levels of toxic emissions) to go on. Which turned out well for me, as the clouds cleared on the way back and I got a peek of the views.

Towards the top, and particularly at the summit, visibility was not great for the most part. The hike up itself wasn’t bad and I just kept thinking about when I could come back next time!

Every time the clouds would pass for an instant I could get an idea of the altitude I was walking through. It was very interesting being around 1700m meters up and not seeing anything around me to give a sense of depth.

Closer to the bottom, I found a really nicely maintained shelter and I took a break from the wind in there. Nearer to the end, I couldn’t believe how much greenery came out of nowhere! As did the sun, so at least I wasn’t in the clouds all day long.

Later on our way to dinner we drove past a look out spot where we could see the mountain I had hiked earlier. Unfortunate that this was the clearest view of it I had gotten all day but such as life! There are so many course to do here that I wouldn’t hesitate to come back and give it another try. Plus, my lucj did change quite a bit the next day.

And here is my course on Yamap!