Thursday 27 September 2018

Sefuriyama 脊振山 & Kanayama 金山 2018.9.24

Sefuriyama 脊振山 & Kanayama 金山 


Mt. Sefuri is a famous and important mountain on the border of Fukuoka and Saga prefectures. It is among one of Fukuoka prefectures largest peaks and it is for this reason that both the US airforce and the Japanese air force have radar systems on the summit. It is also home to a large weather monitoring station and there is even a road that leads straight to top. The history of the mountain is however much older. The mountain may have got its name from its shape resembling a dragon in flight. The mountain was once a centre of the Shugendō religion and there are many old monk living spaces dotted around the summit. It was also one of the first places tea was planted during the Kamakura period. Sefuriyama

This hike is a long one. There are a number of options for example not heading to Sefuriyama and instead going towards Kanayama first. Or returning down the same route after Sefuriyama. However the full hike is definitely worth it with some spectacular view and ends at a bath house to ease those aches and pains from the day away. 

Access: Take a Nishitetsu bus from the Hakata bus centure to Wakiyama Elementary school 脇山小学校前. The buses are about every 30 minutes. From here it is either a walk into Shiiba 椎原 or if you are lucky you may be able to catch a bus. The buses are infrequent and badly timed to connect. Getting back: Take a Nishitetsu bus from the Tatarase bus stop 多々良瀬(バス)to Saburomaru 三郎丸 (There are only six buses per day so be sure to check it) and from here there are plenty o buses that go to Hakata or you can catch the subway by going to Noke station 野芥駅前. You can check all bus times here; Nishitetsu Bus timetable

Gear: I highly recommend you wear hiking boots for this hike. There are a number of times you will need to cross mountain streams and in some cases you may need to walk directly through them. On top of the mountain there are many steep sections which would be easier if you had the added grip that proper hiking footwear provides. Also make sure you take a hiking pole to help with the ascent and descent you may feel like you don't need it at first but you may start to feel tired by the end and there are some areas you definitely do not want to slip on! Sefuriyama is quite high up, as it is now getting colder it is important to make sure you pack something like a windbreaker or coat.

Shiiba mountain pass signpost

Once in Shiba you are looking for this signpost. You want to follow the old tarmac road up to the Shiiba mountain pass. 

Road leading to the Shiiba mountain pass

The road leads through a forest

It generally follows the river which is formed from many mountain streams higher up

The stream is large and I passed two large man made waterfalls

A map board with details of the possible routes up the mountains
Eventually I came the the start point of the Shiiba mountain pass. This white sign was the clearest. To the left the hike to Sefuriyama and to the right the route heads to Kanayama. 

The trail leading up to the summit of Sefuriyama mostly funs next to a mountain stream. The water was crystal clear with a faint green tint. 

The trail winds up and I needed to cross the stream multiple times. It was often difficult to see where the trail carried on. Luckily there was red tape on branches which helped mark the direction to go in. 

Not sure what this is, Maybe an old Monk's living space?
One of many streams to cross

My favorite image of the day
Near the stop it gets very steep. There is a rope to grab old of for extra support. 

The last part of the ascent. I climbed the metal ladder to emerge to a tarmac road. 

The border of Saga and Fukuoka prefectures is right on top of the mountain

There were people with small fires and it looks like they were camping up here. 

At the top is an air force base with a military radar system. 

I kept following the signs to the summit and eventually after a quite a few steps I got to a old stone shrine. 

The views are honestly spoilt by all of the military building and radar dome. The views get a lot better as you move towards Kanayama. 

Summit signpost

 After a spot of large and some hot coffee I decided to head to the other main peak which was a good two hours more hiking away. 

On the way was a weather station which gave some great views. I backed tracked a little I took a small trail to the side of the road. Back into hiking mode! 

The trail is quite exposed in parts there were some steep smaller peaks to climb over and plenty of fantastic view spots. 

This was one of the best viewing spots which looked out over Saga. Some fantastic views a a real feeling of isolation. 

Some steep rope sections

An unnamed peak

Kanayama, so near yet so far!
Kanayama summit sign post

Finally arrived at Kanayama. I was so focused on getting to Kanayama I had barely considered getting down again luckily it was just a matter of continuing on a little further.
The route down

Finally back to some more roads and the edge if farland. From here it was about a 30 minute walk to the bus stop. There are few buses it left plenty of time to visit the bath house. 

The baths are on the 3rd floor so you get a great view of the surrounding area. Shampoo and body wash are provided free and the price is 650 Yen as of writing. A great place to relax after a long day hike. 

Night had fallen by the time I reached the bus stop. I started hiking at 9:30ish and caught the bus at 18:40 it was solid day of hiking but very rewarding. I will come back to focus more on Kanayama and take a different route up. 

Tuesday 25 September 2018

Takeo 武雄市 Hiking 2018.9.22

Takeo 武雄市 Hiking 2018.9.22

Kyushu Olle course

The Takeo course is part of the Kyushu Olle series of hikes. The full map can be on their website here: Kyushu Olle Takeo. The city of Takeo is located in the Saga prefecture south of Fukuoka. Takeo is in an area famous for its Onsen and also for the tea of nearby Ureshino. 

The Hike is fairly long in terms of Kilometers however aside from one section by the lake which goes off into some pretty steep mountains and then another section right at the end which loops around Takeo onsen, the hike is actually very straightforward and easy to follow. 

Access: Travel from Hakata to Tosu on the JR Kagoshima line. From there change to the JR Nagasaki line and travel to Hizenyamagchi. From here change to the JR Sasebo line to JR Takeoonsen station. The course start point is located in the station. You can pick up a map from the information centre there for free. 

The course starts from this point in Takeo-onsen station. 

Follow the sign outside the station and keep your eyes peeled from the characteristic Kyushu Olle tags that mark the route. 

The first part of the hike was not all that interesting. I walked through streets and through some pretty wooded area. 

This section was very pleasant but definitely lacked in features to talk about. Basically you follow this down to the lake which is where things get interesting. 

I walked around the lake to the science museum and came to a point where you can choose either the longer A type course or the easier B type course. 

I messed up here and ended up effectively doing both courses. But I definitely recommend the longer course for a proper hike. 

View from a viewing platform

 The path becomes steep and far more like regular hiking. 

From up in the mountains there were some fantastic views of Takeo and you can see how steep many of the peaks in the area are. 

There were also a lot of mushrooms and Fungi to be seen. 

The path down was steep rocky. Eventually I came to some small lakes with a lot of life. There were lily pads and frogs everywhere. 

It was soon I realised that I had down the B route and then changed onto the A route so effectively doing both routes. 

So I worked out an alternative and got back on track. 

After rejoining the path and walking through some more wooded areas I came to Takeo shrine. This was an impressive colourful shrine with a large and very ancient tree just few hundred meters behind it. 

The tree is an historic site and is more than five hundred years old. 

The looks of the tree brought back memories of J.R.R Tolkien's character treebeard and the ancient trees of middle earth. 

Unfortunately you are not permitted to get closer than this photo shows. There is however another tree down the road. It is equally as ancient and you can go inside to explore the interior. 

The trail led back to the city area and across the river and train tracks. The road was pretty straight and I could the Onsen gate at the end. However the trail then led off to the left and went up into the mountains behind the onsen. This was Sakurayama park and there were lots of small Buddha statues to see. 

The view from above Takeo onsen. In the distance are the mountains around the lake. Time to explore the onsen itself and go for a hot spring. 
The gate for the onsen is impressive. The main building inside is the sight of the old onsen and you are permitted to explore and learn about the history of the onsen. 

Inside and next to the Main building are some onsen that you can use each offering a slightly different experience. 

The main building. To the sides are the working onsen

Inside the ld onsen building

The end point for the hike

We choose the older style onsen. The building was obviously very old and the water was nice and hot. The water had a almost slimy quality and was very softening to soak in. 

Overall the hike was good. The road sections there numerous but not that unpleasant and the high points where very good.