Sunday 22 September 2019

Kuju Hiking: Five mountains: Kutsukakeyama 沓掛山, Kujuyama 久住山, Hoshihoyama 星生山, Inoboshiyama 稲星山, Nakadake 中岳, Tenguyama 天狗ヶ城 2019.9.15

Kuju Hiking: Five mountains: Kutsukakeyama  沓掛山, Kujuyama 久住山, Hoshihoyama 星生山, Inoboshiyama 稲星山, Nakadake 中岳, Tenguyama 天狗ヶ城 2019.9.15

For my third trip to Kuju in Oita the aim was to get around all of the mountains in the ring of peaks up from the Makinoto pass. We managed to climb all peaks and get some fantastic views as a bonus.

Makinoto car park, Kutsukakeyama 沓掛山 and Hoshihoyama 星生山

We arrived at the car park at 6am only to find that it was already full! We found some off road parking a short distance back down the mountain and started the hike with the sun still rising. 

The first mountain is actually part of the route and is unavoidable. Kutsukakeyama is a smallish mountain and the sign can be a little tricky to spot. 

The second mountain, Hoshioyama is off the main track to the left. 

Hoshihoyama has some of the simply best views with a volcanic vent visible in the near distance. It also have some fantastic 360 degree panoramic views. 


A splendid panoramic from the top of Hoshihoyama

Kujuyama 久住山 & Inoboshiyama 稲星山

Kujuyama is the most popular peak for people to visit and the top is often busy. It is also one of the easiest to climb. The views from the western side extend for a long way. On this day the clouds were hanging low creating a wonderful atmosphere and a sense of height. 

Following the leader! 

Inoboshiyama is not far from Kujuyama and it is pretty easy to get to. The top is interesting is it is made of a very orange-ish rock which looks very volcanic. 

Kuju Nakadake 中岳 and Tenguyama 天狗ヶ城

The climb to Nakadake is a steep climb but well worth it. It is is the largest of all of the peaks on Kuju. It provides some wonderful views of the Miike 御池 lake and the eastern side of Kuju.    

A panoramic from Nakadake on Kuju


The final peak in the ring in this area of Kuju is Tenguyama 天狗ヶ城 which is actually Tengu castle although I am not sure why it is given this name. The route to get there follows along a mountain ridge from Nakadake and is easy to follow. It can be a little difficult to the route but but we went around to the right and found a trail to the peak. The closer views of Miike lake are wonderful from here. 

After enjoying the views and taking a short break by the lake we began our long walk back to the car. After the hike we went to a natural hot spring to sooth our legs before heading back to Fukuoka. 

It was a another fantastic hike. For the next trip to Kuju we will climb from a different point and try some camping with the aim to get to Mt. Taizen 大船山

Friday 20 September 2019

Trail running & Speed hiking in Itoshima Nijodake 二丈岳, Onnadake 女岳, Ukidake 浮嶽 and Tomboyama 十坊山 2019.9.14

Trail running & Speed hiking in Itoshima Nijodake 二丈岳, Onnadake 女岳, Ukidake 浮嶽 and Tomboyama 十坊山 2019.9.14

On the last visit to Itoshima we were defeated by this hike and didn't make it to the last mountain. This time I packed light and came ready to trail run and speed hike the route. This is a challenging run that clocks in at nearly 20km by the end. It has some of the most wonderful views of the Itoshima coastline, plenty of variety between each mountain and a great Onsen to relax before heading pack to the JR train line. 

JR Dainyu Station >> Nijodake >> Onnadake >> Ukidake >> Tomboyama >> Mamushi onsen >> JR Fukuyoshi station

Running from Dainyu station to Nijodake 二丈岳

The run up to the Yuranaiko bridge is mainly along road with a some options to cut through to the car park once you get near. The weather wonderfully dry and clear and I got some waves and greeting from the farmers working their fields on the way up.

The summit of Nijodake has some of the very best views of the Itoshima coastline. I got some shots and took a brief rest. 

The trail up is not too difficult but there were a few points were I had to adjust my speed and slow down a little. Luckily for the new leg I was able to run all of the way to the base of Onnadake. 

Nijodake 二丈岳 to Onnadake 女岳

The trail from Nijodake to Onnadake is probably the least eventful. I ran down to the start of the final section of the Nijodake and took the forest road which heads off to the left. I ran down to eventually meet a campsite which on this was deserted and headed up and left the road which I followed around to the start of the Onnadake hike as marked by a signpost (Pictured below)

I hiked up to the mountain ridge and ran along until I made it to the summit. There are no views to speak off so after a short rest I continued running down to a road and towards the next speak of Ukidake

Onnadake 女岳 to Ukidake 浮嶽

Ukidake is clearly visible as soon as you exit the forest from Onnadake. It is imposing and looks much more challenging than it really is. 

I was able to to run all the way to the base without stopping but them then hiked up keeping a good steady pace. Ukidake is probably the steepest climb of the four mountains. There are shrines, gates and other cultural features to take in on the way up which really makes the mountain distinct from the others on the trail. 

Ukidake has a nice stone shrine on the Summit as well as some pretty nice view through the trees. 

After meeting and greeting another speed hiker I took a long drink of water and started the descent run to the road near the gold course and the start of the last climb.

Ukidake 浮嶽 to Tomboyama 十坊山

The trail down was pretty uneventful and it was long until I was running parallel to the Fukuokasevunhiruzu (福岡セヴンヒルズゴルフ倶楽部) gold club. I could hear the voices of golfers through the trees as I ran on to the road

I broke into a steady speed hike with my legs starting to feel the ache of running up and down so many mountains. For the rest of the climb I hiked but it still take too long to reach the summit of Tomboyama. 

The views are once again wonderful and the large round rock is also interesting. 

Tomboyama 十坊山 to the Mamushi onsen まむしの湯 and back to JR Fukuyoshi station 福吉駅

For the descent I ran small sections and walked the steeper ones. It isn't a difficult route and didn't take too long. I met many other hikers on the way all with various different styles from superlight to fully equipped

In finally came to the fruit trees and farmland of Itoshima and walked down to meet the trailhead and up the road to the Mamushi onsen.
After a relaxing soak and some creamy locally produced Itoshima milk I headed to the station. A friendly family stopped and offered me a lift to the station I thanked them but declined which turned out just as well as I was treated to some great views of butterflies on the flowers around the fields.

The hike in total took about 5 hours including the time spent at the Onsen. I didn't stop for lunch or between each mountain mountain and instead choose to regulate my pace instead. This has to be one of my favourite trail runs in Fukuoka and I highly recommend it. If you would like more information or a map of the trail please don't hesitate to get in contact either here or through instagram.