Using the super cheap JR ticket I went down to Kaimon in Ibuski, Kagoshima. The Shinkansen down to Kagoshima Chuo is easy but the local train to Kaimon take two hours so I studied some Japanese, listened to music and still had a hour left!
Once at Kaimon I went to the camp site at Kaimonsanrokufureai Park かいもん山麓ふれあい公園 they have a great free site area with very well maintained pitches and facilities however it cost 1800yen so a little pricy compared to the mountain sites I am used to. The check in was 1pm and I had to take a number and wait to register. You need to fill out a simple form with your name, phone number and address. After setting up my tent and stowing the bulky items I set off for Kaimondake.
There is only one main route up Kaimon and it is not too difficult. It starts with a forest walk with the biggest challenge being the volcanic gravel which can be slippy. Just over halfway up it changes to large rocks and boulders, this is the remains of a pyroclastic flow that occurred in the last eruption which took place in the year 885. This area is ok but closer to the took the rocks are usually wet and very slippery. There are also a few ladders to climb and some easy roped sections. The top has great views, however today it was totally obscured but cloud cover. I have added some photos from my climb last year to give you a better idea of what it all looks like. A man at the camp site told me it would take 5 hours to hike and Yamap says just over four hours, it took me 2 hours and 45mins up and down.
Kaimondake is very much an active volcano. The Japanese Meteorological Agency describe it as having the “potential for increased activity”. Generally a volcano needs to have had no activity for minimum of 10,000 years and have no access to the magma chamber to be considered extinct. Geological time is so vast it is impossible for us to imagine.
After the hike I went back to camp, I tested out the new sleeping (But it was actually too hot!) and the tent performed well. There were many families but lucky it wasn’t too busy or loud. Ibusuki is very dark at night so I could see many stars. The morning I got up early and packed away and headed down for the 7am train.