Thursday, 22 November 2018

Sefuriyama 脊振山, Hamaguritake 蛤岳 and Higashisefurionsen Sazanka Hot Spring ひがしせふり温泉 山茶花の湯 2018.11.17

Sefuriyama 脊振山, Hamaguritake 蛤岳 and Higashisefurionsen Sazanka Hot Spring ひがしせふり温泉 山茶花の湯 2018.11.17

This is an epic hike starting at the Shiiba mountain pass >> Sefuriyama >> Hamaguritake and eventually ending at a lovely Onsen before heading to JR Nakabaru Station in Saga. I hiked 30 km on this day with a significant portion of the hike on old roads to get to the onsen and in pitch black to get to the station. Some of the scenery on the hike is the best I have seen and the route up to Sefuriyama may be my personal favourite hike in Fukuoka. 

Access: Much the same as the last time I went. However I would suggest using the No.3 bus from the city (Hakata or Tenjin) As opposed to the No. 17. There is a bus timed just after you arrive at Wakiyama ES which is another No.3 which will take you to the Shiiba bus stop. 

Gear: Hiking boots as there are a lot of streams to walk through. Gloves are also essential as you will often use ropes and trees to climb up. Sefuriyama in particular is quite high up and a few degrees colder than at the base. A hiking stick is also recommended. 


Shiiba bus top to Sefuriyama






The Shiiba bus stop feels remote. This is a map of the surrounding area near the bus stop. It displays the routes up into the mountains. The easiest way is to walk up from the bus stop to a green sign pointing right which says in English and Japanese "Shiiba mountain pass"




The late Autumn scenery was quit stunning. The leaves are starting to turn brownish and creating a blanket on the floor. It created a wonderful contrast with the colours of the trees, rocks and the crystal green pools of water. 
 





You follow the mountains streams for most of the hike up to Sefuriyama which gives you plenty of opportunities to see some amazing sights but also soak up a wonderful atmosphere with the sound of rushing water, creaking trees and birds singing. 



 With so much to see and experience it became difficult to choose which photos to share. I particularly liked the moss covered rocks and ferns scattered on the forest floor. Check out the photo album at the bottom of the post for the complete photo set. 



Finally at the top I had a break, ate some lunch and took in the views. To get to Hamaguritake the route is just past the car park on Sefuriyama. However it is essential that you carry on to the shrine at the top to get the best views and reach the summit sign. 

I walked back down to the car park checked out the signage. This one has a good map and useful explanation of Sefuriyama in English and Japanese.  

Sefuriyama to Hamaguritake 



Just down the steps from the car park is a historic statue. I missed this the first time I came here. After this it was a matter of following the trail round the mountain and off through the forests to Hamaguritake. The hike is not difficult as most of the actual climbing has been done to get up to the taller Sefuriyama. 

A closer look
The first part looks like a long wooden bridge. In places the wood has started to decay so holes are starting to form. Be careful!




Eventually I found myself in an area that was completely silent. The area before the video had long grass until I heard a loud shuffling sound. It was a huge wild boar. I moved around and I kept catching glimpses of it. I decided to make some noise to drive it away. However after a few shout I thought I heard it coming closer so in a panic I braced myself for what might emerge from the grass. However it started to move away and I didn't see any more of it.  Most wild boar attacks occur when they are defending their young or the get surprised by you. 






Finally I reached the summit. There is no large sign and the view is not the greatest however you can climb a small wooden ladder to get a better view of the area and the flat plain of Saga below. Be careful not to slip into the crack of the rock!




 The route down is very straightforward and is just on the right side of this map board. Eventually I came to a large road area and it was jsut a matter of following this down to get to the onsen. This however involved a lot of walking. Luckily most of the roads in this area were closed so I didn't have to worry about traffic. 

Hamaguritake to the Higashisefurionsen Sazanka Hot Spring


After climbing down a reached this area. I passed a large group of hikers on their way up. This area seems to be connected to a nearby reservoir lake. I choose to head along the right side of the trail and go down to road access. There may well be much better routes to take but I decided on this one. 


 

 
Roads were closed in the area. Good news for hikers as worrying about traffic can be a pain. 





The sun started to set and I became concerned that it would be dark before reaching the onsen. I reached a service station in Sazanka which was a good place to get a drink and refresh before heading into the farmland below. There are also some great views from the service station. I had quite a fright near here when a large Japanese Pheasant screeched and fly out right in front of me. They are the national bird of Japan




The area at the base of the mountains is very agricultural. I found a few green tea farms and lots of Mikan trees (Satsuma orange trees). They have a ingenious system to help harvest. They have built "mine cart" style systems which go up into the hills to help transport the harvest to the farmhouses below. 













The sun low in the sky I finally arrived at the Higashisefuri Sazanka Onsen. A wonderful onsen with one of the best outdoor baths I have been to. Check it out here Sazanka Onsen The water was also nice a soft. 






They have a large local produce store






After the bath and feeling of relaxation I set off for the final leg of the journey a 45 minute walk to the nearest JR station Nakabaru in the pitch black armed with my trusty torch. It was an amazing hike however the section after leaving the forest to the Onsen was very tiring and lacked variety. Totally worth it but I would want to find an alternative route for that section if I attempt the hike again. 
You can view the full photo album here Sefuri to Hamaguritake Hike

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