Sunday 30 June 2019

Wakasugiyama 若杉山 rainy season Hike 2019/6/22

Wakasugiyama 若杉山 rainy season Hike 2019/6/22

In the middle of rainy season we had a cloudy but otherwise clear day which we decided to use for trip to Wakasugiyama. The previous post of this hike was done at the end of winter so the mountains views were very different on this hike. One of the great treats were all of the Ajisai (Hydrangea) blossoming along the trail and around the mountain. 

For details on the route this check out the previous post here. Below are some the seasonal changes along the route. It was a great hike to do in rainy season. 

As mentioned in the introduction Ajisai were blossoming everywhere on this hike; check out the pictures below. What was most impressive was the variety of shades and tones on display. 
Deep purple
Pearl white! 
Perfect pink

It wasn't just the Ajisai; The warmer weather also means Fungi is free to grow again

There were also a lot of frogs of various species and sizes on the trail. This one posed on a leaf and even appears to be holding flower Umbrella! 

The trail was lush and very green
養老ヶ滝 This buddhist temple was striking compared to in the winter.

 I will leave it with a couple of Buddhist statues and Jizo statues that are all around Wakasugiyama. 

I liked the detail of his slippers set under his chair. 

Sunday 23 June 2019

Shioji 四王寺: More ruins, a Waterfall and a new route 2019/6/16

Shioji 四王寺: More ruins, a Waterfall and a new route 2019/6/16

This is an area very close to my home that I have hiked many times in the past. This is a new route that takes in a lot more of the historic sites and even a nice waterfall. 

Access: Take the 100 Yen community Madoka bus from Onojo station to the Onojo sports park. The bus stop is just before a tunnel that goes under a road. More info on this past hike after getting of the bus head under the road and turn left. When you get to the entrance walk past the running track and to the right of the main building. Keep walking up and eventually you will see the "Onojo trail" mark on the ground. Start hiking up the mountain following the stairs and enjoying the view points. Once at the top check out the summit of Ooguskuyama 大城山 and Bishamondo 毘沙門堂. Then after walking past the shrine turn left and walk through a clearing with some benches which heads to an outdoor music area. 

Walk through this clearing. The route from here to the outdoor music area 野外音楽堂 is pretty straightforward


大野城跡 百間石垣
This is the first main feature on this route. A long and impressive part of the original castle wall 大野城跡 百間石垣. Much of the original construction is still intact. There is a steep path that allows you to walk around it and get up close to it. It is amazing to think that the area was once a bustling castle with many buildings. 

 From here we walked down the steps to the river. There are more Jizo statues to find and a small waterfall 鮎返りの滝. The main waterfall can be found by walk down the road and turning right up a small road to the side. 


After walking a short way up the track the waterfall can be seen on the right side. There is a small shrine and many statues. The waterfall 鮎返りの滝 is not overly large but pretty and atmospheric. I also liked the red fox statue. 


After taking in the waterfall we continued up and found another area of original castle wall. Not as long as the previous piece but still very impressive that it has endured this long. 
大原山 Oharayama

We continued on the trail spotting many of the 33 stone Jizo statue that a all over Shioji. It was not long before we reached another mountain summit 大原山 Oharayama another of the four that make up Shioji. It made me wonder how they knew in ancient times where the summits were? 

 The trail carried on with even more Jizo statues! It would be a good challenge to take a checklist and try to find them all. 

Eventually we came to a very familiar area which overlooks Dazaifu with the national museum clearly visible. From here the route was the same as previous hikes with plenty more ruins and even the Samurai grave to see. 

We came down in Dazaifu and talked back past the old govermnet offices 大宰府政庁跡  to   Tofuro-Mae Station  都府楼前駅. This will now be the main route I use for hiking and trail running Shioji as it takes it so much more of the history and nature on the mountain. 

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Rain Hike: Tenpaizan 天拝山 to Kiyama 基山

Rain Hike: Tenpaizan 天拝山 to Kiyama 基山 2019/6/15

Rainy season is in full swing here. I have been looking for windows of opportunity to get hiking in. It seemed hike we had a good four hours last Saturday to hike. We abandoned some more ambitious plans and instead headed to a well known trail. Unfortunately there was no window, instead it rained for the entire duration. However this is what rainy season in Japan is all about and it is great to see the trails in the rain. 

Gear: Rain hiking can either be really fun or a tedious chore if you go unprepared. consider packing the following items; 
  • Raincoat or rain suit: These can be purchased very cheaply or they can be very expensive for Gore-Tex pro gear. Get one with a hood. Essential in the rain. 
  • Pocket Umbrella: Not so useful for the trail but can be useful for the road walking sections to and from the trails. 
  • Pack cover: These can be purchased quite cheaply online or in outdoor stores. Get one that is appropriate for your pack size. 
  • Trail gaiters: Will help protect your feet and shoes from getting waterlogged. 
  • Wear quick trying materials and avoid cotton clothing. 
Below are some images of our rain hike. The route is not new so I won't go into detail about it here. Click on the mountains tab at the top to find other posts with more of a guide explanation. 
Ajisai (Hydrangea): The symbol of rainy season

Not much of a view from Tenpaizan

Water logged castle ruins on Kiyama
Yamagani: A mountain crab. We shows hundreds of them over the course of the hike
The way down Kiyama was the most waterlogged 
It kept trying to hide under his boot
A beautiful wild Ajisai (Hydrangea)
Fungi like the warm moist air 
Lots more Ajisa (Hydrangea) in the farm land in Kiyama

Friday 7 June 2019

Rainy Season 2019 and repeat hikes in May

The mountains are alive and the flowers are blooming! 

It has been a busy month of May with the weekends mostly spent returning to older hikes with the family or trail running past routes. And now we have hit the Japanese rainy season which is called Tsuyu 梅雨. At this time last year I made many hike attempts some of them failing due to the high volumes of rainfall. I am hoping that we get more sunny weekends this June-July and hope to do some new hikes and walks around the area. Until then here are some pictures the repeat hikes and trail runs I have been doing. One of the great things about repeating the same routes is that you can focus a lot less on the route and challenge and instead focus more on the wonderful details, mountain creatures and all sorts of flora and fauna that call the mountains their home. 

If anybody would like hike together or wants more information about a route please feel free to get in contact! 

Trail running and hiking Tenpaizan 天拝山 to Kiyama 基山; spotting nature

Cyrestis thyodamas

Chiromantes haematocheir yama-gani

It finally looks like they will start the repair work on the ancient water gate which was connected to the castle that once stood on Kiyama. Seeing the devastation caused by last years rainy season was one of the most shocking sights I have had when hiking. Let's hope this year history doesn't repeat itself! 

Repeat hike to Tagawa; Mt. Fukuchi 福智山 

The views were no less impressive and expansive on this repeat hike. The girls loved the top of the mountain but Malena didn't like the interest she was getting from the bees for her flower patterned Columbia backpack! 
Shioji 四王寺 and rainy season

I hope this all inspires you to get out on the trails and experience the thrill of hiking. The summer is hot but you are rewarded with mountains that the crawling with life and blooming with colour!