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.

May Snack of the Month: Kashiwa Mochi・かしわ餅

Kashiwa Mochi・かしわ餅 are often eaten during Children’s Day・子どもの日 which is usually around the first week of May during Golden Week holidays. It is a simple mochi with red bean paste inside wrapped in a decorative oak leaf. よもぎ・mugwort is another popular flavour for kashiwa mochi which has a fresh grassy taste. I opted for the simple kind.

I usually keep these flowers at my bedside and they are the most beautiful thing to wake up to, despite not knowing their name in neither English or Japanese.

First DIY Sweet: Hydrangea Edition

When I lived in Tokyo I went to a few classes to make Japanese sweets so it wasn’t my absolute first attempt at wagashi but it was my first solo attempt! All I can say is, I further understand why this is a specialized profession.

The pink color is a result of mixing red cabbage and lemon juice, it was really interesting to experiment and that is one aspect I would like to try again. Inside, I made a mochi ball, or dango, which is surrounded by white bean paste and then topped with the coloured jellies using agar agar.

So similar to the hydrangea・ajisai・紫陽花 I showed earlier, this is a pretty classic seasonal sweet that might be found in sweet shops when the hydrangeas begin to bloom.

I might need a few more tutorials before my next attempt, though I did learn a lot and have a fun doing it. I guess the bar has been set pretty high by all my usual sweet shops!

Another Classic

I obviously have favourite types of Japanese sweets but I do have a go at trying new things or revisiting things from before. A really classic sweet is warabi mochi・わらび餅. It’s a bracken starch jelly which is often clear but mine was made with black sugar so had a really nice depth to it. Best served chilled and then topped with kinako powder (toasted soybean flour). I must have tried it a few times before but was surprised how much I liked it this time! Summer snacks are great.

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 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.

Little Sprouts

I’ve had this plant since moving to Fukuoka and it took me a while but I finally think I understand its light needs. It seems so happy right now (most of the plants are loving the sun and warmth in the apartment now) but it recently surprised me with a little shoot, stretching straight up. Seems like a good omen.

One of the popular early spring foods in Japan is takenoko, or bamboo shoots. So many of the produce stands have them now. I’ve made them a couple times, simmered with soy sauce and mirin. This adorable little rendering is from Rabbit Moon・兎月 and was just as fun to eat as it was to gaze at lovingly.

Hiking The Tallest Peak in Fukuoka: Mount Sefuri・脊振山 Edition

At just 5 minutes shy of 8 hours, I think this was my longest hike since moving here. The Sefuri mountains are on the Fukuoka/Saga border and are the highest in Fukuoka prefecture (1,054.6 m). The path I took up was a little long, but without a doubt the prettiest I have taken up in Fukuoka. Every 5 minutes I was walking by or in a new little stream or waterfall.

There was one of the funniest trail heads (or ends) I have ever seen, a huge, long rope to pull yourself up on with a swimming pool ladder to get out of the path! I loved it, it was really fun without being difficult, and popping up at the top felt like I was coming from a different world.

The views of the city were pretty amazing, but I can’t say it was my favourite summit. Although there is a nice shrine and tiny shelter, it is also home to the Japanese Air Self Defense Force so there was barbed wire and lots of buildings complete with parking lots. I was the only person up there but still, it was more relaxing to only face away from the barbed wire fences.

This was from near Mt. Kana・金山 where the surrounding mountains were particularly beautiful. I sadly didn’t get that many good pictures because I was focused on my timing. I will definitely go back so I can spend more time in the waterfalls though so it’s fine by me.

Finally at the end of the day I got to see some pretty blossoms along the way. From the bus stop I could see the Air Self Defense Force at the top of the center mountain in the distance. It was very fun to see how far I had come, it looks so tiny!

And of course here is my whole 8 hour trip hike on Yamap.