Thursday 25 July 2019

Kurokamiyama 黒髪山 & Eizan 英山 Hiking in Arita, Saga 2019.7.24

Kurokamiyama 黒髪山 & Eizan 英山 Hiking in Arita, Saga 2019.7.24

Kurokami-yama overlooks the town of Arita in the Saga prefecture. The town is famous for being the first place in Japan to make porcelain and to this day it remains famous for its pottery. This is a wonderful and not too long hike which has some wonderful views and some adventurous rocky areas with roped sections. 

Access: I travelled from Fukuoka so I took the JR Kagoshima line to JR Tosu 鳥栖駅. From Tosu I changed to the JR Sasebo line and look that down to JR Hizenyamaguchi 肥前山口駅 I then changed to another train that continued along the JR Sasebo line to JR Kami-Arita station 上有田駅. Be aware that you can not use IC cards in the stations around here so make sure you have purchased a ticket to the correct value. From the station it can be tricky to find the start point. Check for the direction of Kurokami yama and head towards it. Below is a rough map of the route I used. 

The starting point of the hike. Take the trail to the left to head to Eizan first. 
Gear: This is a rocky climb so good trail shoes or boots are a must. Gloves are also essential for the roped and chain sections. The ascent is quite dry so make sure you have plenty of water. There are water sources and streams on the way down to Arita Dam. There are a number of onsens in the area so pack an extra pair of clothes and towels if you plan to visit one. 
Kami-Arita station 上有田駅 to Eizan 英山
The first leg of the hike is fairly straightforward. I walked up to the hiking point enjoying the quaint streets of this side of Arita. The station is very old fashioned and the surrounding area mirrors this aesthetic. 

Kami-Arita station. It was unmanned on this day. 

Hiking start point as pictured above. 
I entered the forest and followed the trail up. Soon it became very steep and slippy in places. The previous weeks heavy rain had loosened the ground and there were logs and debris across the trail. 

I found some interesting Fungi on the way up which I snapped some shots of until I reached a very steep area. 

The area from here on was very rocky and has plenty of ropes to go up near vertical climbs in some places. Luckily the rock wasn't slippy and it was fairly easy. After reaching the top I was treated to some good views of the land below. 

The forest grew a lot darker for the last push to Eizan. Clouds had started to form and I became concerned as the weather forecast had spoken of wondering thunder storms in the area. 

It wasn't far from here to the top of Eizan. The signpost was slightly hidden on the right and could be missed easily. 

A great view from a rock just behind Eizan 

The summit of Eizan 英山

If in doubt follow the pink tape

Eizan 英山 to Kurokami-yama 黒髪山

After hiking through more forest and spotting yet more interesting Fungi I came to the intersection with another route that starts at a nearby car park. From here the signposts were of a higher quality and there were many more steps and stairs. 

Kurokami-yama could be seen in the distance and was actually not as far as it seemed. 

Unfortunately the earlier fears of rain came true, however it only lasted about ten minutes and I was able to observe the shower moving away from me and raining just a few metres away while having stopped were I was standing. 

At the very base of the summit of Kurokami-yama is a beautiful and old looking shrine. On this day there was even an old monk reciting a mantra, In considered making a video but it felt wrong for some reason. The peak of the mountain looms above the shrine. 
Shirayama Shrine 白山神社
Kurokami Shrine Jogu 黒髪神社上宮

A little way up some old stone steps is another shrine built into a cave in the rockside. The rocks colours around the shrine were beautiful. 

The route from here was a little tricky to locate. Just before the shrine there is a trail that goes around it on the right of the path when facing the trail to the shrine. 

This is the last leg back to the top of the mountain. The rocks become very steep with a few vertical sections. There are plenty of chains, ropes and ladders to aid hikers. 

A drop to one side
Now this is a mountain ridge

The summit of Kurokami-yama. Despite only being 518m high the views were fantastic and really capture the geology of the area well. 

Some the best views were back along the ridge the rock which has sheer drops on all sides but the views are worth it. 

I ate lunch and just after that the sun came out in full force. I spotted this little mushroom right next to the summit sign post. 

Now it was time for the descent after a little time wasting I decided to change my original plan and instead head to Arita Dam. The lake can be seen from many spots over Kurokami-yama and I wanted to get a more up close view. 

Arita Dam 有田ダム the final leg of the hike back to Arita station

I started to follow te signs to the Dam 有田ダム and it evnetuully led me back to the side of the summit. From here the hike was straightforward. It was slippy and steepish in places but not too difficult. Also I soon met a mountain stream which made for a great atmosphere on the way down. 

Eventually the trail comes out near a disused children's play area. The lake was well worth visiting with some great reflections of the forests and mountains around it. 

After short while walking the trail became a road and I followed it around the lake before walking down into the town of Arita. I admired the many pottery stores lining the streets and headed to JR Arita station. The benefit of using this station over Kami-Arita is that the express trains will stop here and they are much more frequent. There are also more vending machines and a 7/11 near the station. 

Option: Visit and Onsen. I visited Takeo-onsen
The old gate for the Takeo onsen. The museum inside is interesting. If you are feeling especially ambitious you could do the Kyushu Olle course which starts at the station. 
I was sweaty and covered in the mixture of insect repellent and sunblock that I had been using all day. For the Onsen then I decided to hop back on the train and get off at the Takeo-onsen station. The natural hot spring here is famous and the water is soft and even a little slimy. There is a museum with the old onsen in and a choice of baths to use. I used the Moto-no-yu. The water here is natural and very hot. Perfect to soothe those muscles after a day spent hiking. 

1 comment:

  1. Great hike Jason...your pictures and narrative are spot on...the picture of the monk is pretty cool...I want to go there again when the weather gets cooler this autumn!!