Tuesday 16 October 2018

Hikosan Hiking 英彦山 2018.10.13

Hikosan Hiking 英彦山 2018.10.13

Mount Hiko is one of the most famous mountain in Fukuoka. Located far from Fukuoka city and in a very rural area you get some fantastic views. It is also an important spiritual site Shugendō and is home to many shrines around and on the mountain itself. 

A great guide can be found on the Fukuoka now website - Hikosan guide For the most part this still holds up however there have been some changes due to to JR Hitahiko train line being damaged in heavy rain a few years ago. At present the the JR Kyushu rail company and the local Soeda city government are in a dispute over who should pick up the bill for repairs. So for now a significant part of the line is not in use and instead you need to get on a bus run by JR which will take you to the  JR Hikosan station. 

Access: There are number of ways to get to Hikosan. From Hakata I used regular trains and took the JR Fukuhoku Yutaka line to Shinizuka, then changed to the JR Gotoji line to Tagawagotoji then changed again to the JR Hitahikosan line to Soeda. From there I needed to get a bus operated by JR (Your ticket covers the cost or you can pay separately for 230 Yen). The journey took about two hours so I recommend leaving early and getting to Hikosan station early (You can check times here Train times). It should also be noted that IC cards are not accepted on stations in this area so buy a ticket instead. From the Hikosan station there is a bus you can get it is timed to connect to the JR bus and you can check both bus times here at the boxes at the bottom of the page: Hikosan city bus the main city site is here Soeda city The bus cost 200 Yen to the start area. 

JR Bus, on the way back it was a smaller black taxi bus.

Hikosan station, the bus parked in front is the city bus to Hikosan

Gear: Hikosan is a varied hike there are some streams to cross, steep rocks to clamber over and bare areas with little tree cover. So bring hiking boots, a sun hat, a hiking pole and as it gets colder a windbreaker or jacket. Hikosan is quite a large mountain for the area so it can get cold at the top. 

Once off the bus I was greeted with the entrance to the mountain and the approach to the main shrine 英彦山神宮. The trees had not yet turned red as it was still to early in the season however many of the trees around were Japanese maples so it is not difficult to imagine how good it looks in November time. 

The approach to the shrine is a long stone path with many steps. There many old building to either side to take a look at. This is the easy part of the hike. 

A very disappointing sight. As of October 2018 the main Hikosan shrine 英彦山神宮 is bring renovated which means is this all you can see of it. Some of the surrounding buildings are still worth seeing however I decided to press on to the hike proper which starts just past the shrine. 

Hikosan has many paths and the early part of the hike is not too challenging. I mostly followed the suggested route on the Fukuoka now website which goes to most of the shrines and covers all three peaks of Mt. Hiko. The atmosphere was great during this early part. 

Lots of secrets nestled in amongst the trees. 
A rather dubious looking bridge which had rotted. I went around it instead of risking to cross it. 

Tamaya shrine makes for an impressive sight. The shrine has been built directly into the cliff and is surrounding buy some very large trees. 

Tamaya Shrine 玉屋神社

The history of the tree is explained here in English too! 
英彦山の鬼杉(スギの巨樹) Onsugi is one of the oldest Cedar trees in Kyushu. It has been growing since the 8th century!

The first mountain peak. Minamidake. This peak was mostly a forested area which obscured the views. There was a small shrine so I stopped here for something to eat and rest. The section from Onisugi to the peaks was very steep so  rest was well deserved. 

It wasn't far past here into the second peak Nakadake came into view. The large shrine makes a good impression from a distance. Unfortunately it is well weathered and in need of some tender love and care. 


On the other side of the shrine but still on Nakadake I found the mai summit sign. There are are some picnic benches and toilets here. There was even a pilgrim taking selfies by the sign. Some of the best views were just past here on the way to Kita dake the fina peak. 

Kitadake. The path up to this one was not so bad after getting down from Nakadake. 

It was time to head down. The trail down was fairly straight forward as I headed for my final shrine of the day. 

Takasumi Shrine 高住神社 was the final shrine I explored. There were a lot of these cow statues around one of them looked exactly like the one in Dazaifu that students visit to touch its head before exams. 

I headed down the main approach to the shrine to a car park. There are toilets here and vending machines. 

I also noticed that the bus stops here and saw the same driver waiting by the bus who recognised me with otsukaresamadesu (good job!) 

Instead of following the route back down to where I started I got the bus from here instead. It was 300 Yen from this point and took me straight back to the station. 

It was a good challenging hike with some seriously rocky areas which my post doesn't really show. I will definitely head back to Hikosan but will wait until the main shrine has been renovated to take a look at it. 

You can view the full photo album by following this link; Hikosan album

Here is a video of the views around Hikosan; 

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