Sunday, 22 July 2018

Chikuho / Kawara 香春町 Hiking course & Hiraodai 平尾台 2018.7.14

Chikuho / Kawara 香春町 Hiking course & Hiraodai 2018.7.14

As hot Japanese summer hits us I decided to get some more hiking in and go a little further a field. The summer in Japan is very hot with temperatures reaching the mid thirties with a feel of forty. It is important to be prepared especially taking plenty of water and resting as much as needed. 

The first part of this hike is part of the Kyushu Olle walks and a full explanation and map can be found here Chikuho / Kawara course

The course is among the newest and only started at the end of March 2018. Consequently the trail is well defined and there is even a large container with cut bamboo sticks that you can take to help take the strain of the climb. 

 Access: Starting from Fukuoka I took the Shinkansen to Kokura. It is always worth checking as there is usually a discount return ticket available at the weekend. From there I changed to the Tagawahitosan line and went to Saidosho station 採銅所駅 it took just under 40 minutes. This is the start point of the hike.  

The view of after you get off the train is quite impressive. The area feels very remote.

Saidosho station is very old and lacks a IC card point so I needed to settle up when I got back to Kokura



The signs marking the start of the course can be found right outside the station as well as large banner welcoming you to the course. 




One of the main selling points for the course is that it follows the train line. I found that this was only true at certain points and most of the course was actually only just within view of the tracks. 


Still on the walk up to the start of the mountain climb. The video shows the atmosphere clearly with swallow (Tsubame) sweeping around catching insects over the rice fields. 


 
Walking sticks are available before you start the climb on either side of the mountain. A sweet family came running out of their house to say hello and inform me about them.
 
Old cart rails came out of the forest. A sign of the mining that is still and important part of this areas economy. 
 
Some interesting Fungi. 

The view from the top is not that impressive as the trees blocked most of it. Still it was a good and welcome sight.



Soon after entering the forest I could feel that I was being watched. I turned my head to just grab a glimpse of either Tanuki (Japanese racoon dog) or A Japanese Badger (Anaguma) my thinking is that it was the latters it it looked quite fat. 


Not sure of the species although it could be a young Mamushi. It looks like it had just eaten so was reluctant to move of the trail

 I only thought to video the snake as it was slipping away. Very aggressive and even coiled into a strike pose with its tail shaking wildly. 



The waterfall is very near the exit of the mountain trail. An impressive sight with a small shrine. 




I emerged from the forested area to beautiful open farm land. 


The next stage of the trail was navigating through the farmland to the river and back to the train track. 







I had to follow the Kibe river for quite a while. Admiring the fish wildlife






Back to the train track, it really does cut through some wonderful scenery. 

Quite an old temple which surprisingly un impressive. But it did seem like a very long stretch with a "feature"








Kawara Shrine 香春神社, strangely deserted and felt a little unkept

Just before teaching the final feature of the hike I needed to cut through another short forested area. I could hear the shuffling of leaves all about me and realised I was surrounded by young wild boar (inoshishi). They are adorable however I started to wonder about their mother so decided to sing loudly to scare them off. Wonderful sight to see them foraging in the wild. 




 
The main shrine building
You can see the mining operation. The quarry is in the mountain and the transport runs straight out of the mountain. 
Right into the processing building and transport. 







Finally getting back to the station I reached the goal. It was a good course make all that much better from the brushes with wildlife. 


Kawara station is the next station down. However I wasn't done yet. I decided to take the train back just a few stops which took about 20 minutes and visit Hiraodai a limestone plateau. 



Hiraodai, the views remind me of Cheddar in the UK



For this part you need to take the train to JR Ishiharamachi station 石原町駅 There are Taxi's there which you can take up to Hiraodai or there is a bus service which costs 500 Yen. I haven't been able to find much information on this it basically looks like a small silver van which starts at the station and seems to be timed for when trains arrive.  Hiraodai Country park access


A rocky shrine with statues




I didn't have a great deal of time before the last bus back (15:28!) So picked a peak and went for it. 




The views speak for themself, simply stunning. 

There are also a lot of limestone caves around Hiraodai. I didn't have time to visit these but will definitely have to go back for another hike. 










Back to the country park it was time to get the bus back to the station. 4

Overall a feature filled day. Although I feel a full day or a camping trip would be needed to do Hiraodai justice. 



You can view the full photo album from this hike with the link below 

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