Monday, 26 July 2021

Flower hike: The Surprise hurricane lilies of Iharayama! Ookitsunekamisori in bloom 井原山 2021/7/25

 Flower hike: The Surprise hurricane lilies of Iharayama! Ookitsunekamisori in bloom 井原山 2021/7/25

After a few days of resting from the Daisen and Unzen trips this week I headed Itoshima on search of a seasonal treat. At this time of year some mountains here in Kyushu are set a blaze with wonderful redish orangeish flowers carpeting the forest floor. These flowers are called Ookitsunekamisori or Hurricane lilies in English and their scientific name is Lycoris sanguinea. The flower is native to east Asia. Although their English name is Hurricane lilies I have decided to call them Fox flowers, much nicer I think. 

The rest if the hike was also great with perfect weather and distant views from the summit of Iharayama. It was very busy though so I had to be a little more careful on the trail, still I managed to keep my pace up for most of the hike and finished in plenty of time for the bus. 

My advice is to get out an find the seasonal features of the mountains as they don't last long and you will feel lucky to have been able to experience them.



Mt. Daisen in Tottori (”Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kyushu anymore!”) 山(弥山)・寂静山 2021/7/22

 Mt. Daisen in Tottori (”Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kyushu anymore!”) 山(弥山)・寂静山 2021/7/22

We left the safety and security of our Kyushu home on a night bus to visit Tottori and hike Mt. Daisen. The night bus was long and I really couldn't sleep but when we arrived at Yonago I felt ready to hike.

In the morning we visited the ruins of Yonago castle before getting the rental car and driving to Daisen. We parked near Daisenji and started the hike. It was very busy with lots of people of varying levels of experience hiking up together. There were a large number of bees and hornets but they mostly didn't bother us. The views from the top were wonderful and magnificent with the clouds coming over the mountains and lots of wild flowers about. We hiked down using a route to Daisenji temple and shrine and saw a sign warning of bears! Surprising as there no bears in Kyushu. 

After the hike we visited 大山まきばみるくの里 Daisen makiba milk no sato and got some soft cream and a great view of the other side of Daisen along with some happy cows. 

To finish off we went to Kaike onsen which is a popular onsen town on the sea front. Unfortunately even doing all this and eating dinner we still had a long time to kill before the return bus. Still it was a great trip out of Kyushu!

To see the route map click on the title link




Mt. Unzen hiking 野岳・妙見岳・国見岳・普賢岳(雲仙) 2021/7/19

 Mt. Unzen hiking 野岳・妙見岳・国見岳・普賢岳(雲仙) 2021/7/19

I took the day off so decided to head down to Shimabara in Nagasaki prefecture. 

I took the express Kamome train down to Isahaya station and from there I used a bus to Unzen Onsen town. The bus took 80mins which was a long time but well worth it. 

I hiked first up to the cable car car park area ( Closed on this day). On the way I took a small detour up to Nodake to get some great views of Mt. Unzen. After that I hiked up to Myokendake and then over to Kunimidake before finally heading to Fugendake. When heading back it started to rain heavily changing the views and atmosphere radically. The rain soon calmed down and I continued down and due to the rain I even saw a large toad hopping across the trail. 

When I got back down I had little time before the bus so I visited a natural Onsen in the town which cost only 200Yen with 50Yen for Shampoo! Refreshed I headed back to the bus stop.

For the Yamap post with route map click on the title link







Monday, 28 June 2021

 Kurume mountains, still not rainy! 発心山・白山・グライダー山・桝形山・耳納山・兜山・月見山・高良山 2021/6/26

In this (still not) rainy season I took a trip down to Kurume to hike a set of mountains. Actually my plan was to hike Tenpaizan to Kiyama but I changed my mind on the train and stayed on all the way to Kurume. 

I started the hike at around 10:40 which was late compared to when I like to start. I started with the tallest mountain first and went straight up to Hosshinzan. It was a tiring climb but made a little more difficult due to the heat, good job a brought a towel! After enjoying top I hiked along to Korasan. Gliding Mountain was interesting it has panoramic views and I guess it was once a popular place to hand glide from. 

Crossing over the mountains was pretty easy, there is a popular road which says close to the hiking trail. You can sometimes choose to be on the road or use the hiking trail to cut of bends. But some of the forested areas had many spiders, over grown bushes and long grass. I went off the trail to explore a number of times and found other small mountains, an old camp site and many shrines and statues. Eventually I made it to Korasan and went down to the bus stop (It is more frequent than the train) and headed back to Kurume station. 

The best point is I finally hit more than 250 mountains which was my target for the year. So now a new target 275 by December!




Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Rainy season mushroom hike, Bamboo Mushroom 赤城山・城山・金山南岳・金山北岳・弥勒山

 Rainy season mushroom hike, Bamboo Mushroom 赤城山・城山・金山南岳・金山北岳・弥勒山 2021/6/12

It truly finally rainy season! I had seen reports of a strange a rare mushroom in a mountain in Munakata city so I got my rain gear ready and headed off to hunt down the mushroom. 

I found it near the bottom when I heard excited voices of people nearby. I was told that there were more further up so I kept my eyes peeled hunting for more as I hiked. A woman saw one a little way off the trail so I went to confirm it. There were more at the top and I even managed to find two more with white skirts on the other side of the mountain. The mushroom is Phallus indusiatus which according to Wikipedia has many names such as "bamboo mushrooms, bamboo pith, long net stinkhorn, crinoline stinkhorn or veiled lady". The top part the mushroom has a sticky slime which contains spores which are spread by insects that land on the mushroom to feed on the ooze. 

The rest of the hike was also wonderful Mirokuyama surprised me as I didn't expect much but it had many Buddhist statues, a sign and even a small hut on the way down. From there I walked back to Akama station. A wonderful rainy season hike! 

Click on the title to see the route map and Yamap post




Wednesday, 9 June 2021

In hunt of Miyama Kirishima at Hiijidake in Kuju 平治岳 2021/6/5

 In hunt of Miyama Kirishima at Hiijidake in Kuju 平治岳 2021/6/5

Today we got up early (2am) and set off to Oita to hike Hiijidake and see the Miyama Kirishima. Miyama Kirishima is a special species of Alpine Rhododendron that grow at around 1000m altitude and are smaller than typical Rhododendron Azaleas Tsutsuji. The names from Mt. Kirishima where they grow in abundance but the also are a popular sight in the Kuju Mountains and Mt. Unzen as well. 

We got to the Oike pond car park at 4:30am and rested a little until sunrise before setting off to hike Hiijidake. The trail is not too difficult but does involve climbing higher than most trailheads at Kuju. A Utongoshi mountain pass we found Hiijidake covered in bright pink flowers. It is a wonderful thing to see and is very beautiful. 

After coming down we went to visit Oike pond a small pool with beautiful blueish water. From there we went to Meisui waterfall which involved climbing over many fallen trees and ignoring lots of keep out signs. The water was raging and had the same blueish tint.

Please click on the title to see the Yamap link and route map







Kaho Alps hiking in Asakura 屏山・江川岳・馬見山・古処山 2021/5/22

 Kaho Alps hiking in Asakura 屏山・江川岳・馬見山・古処山 2021/5/22

Nice cool hiking weather before it becomes rainy and humid in the Japanese rainy season. Fukuoka is once again in a SoE with lots of shop, public services and Onsen closed. 

I stayed in Fukuoka and headed out to complete the Kaho Alps starting from Akizuki and headed the four main peaks in the area. Heavy rain during the previous week had left the streams and rivers swollen and it had spilled over to the main trail in many places. This meant crossing is more difficult than usual and it much more slippery.

I first headed to Heizan, Egawadake and then to Umamiyama which was my first time hiking to that peak. I visited Koshosan on the return journey because it is the one I have been to the most. On the way down I took a different route along the road and then used an old disused trail which used to have steps which are now becoming buried under the soil. 

Please click on title to see the Yamap post and map. 







Friday, 7 May 2021

Time for another hike in Saga Takatoriyama and Chinseiyama 鷹取山・鎮西山 2021/5/4

Time for another hike in Saga Takatoriyama and Chinseiyama 鷹取山・鎮西山 2021/5/4

Today I went on a hike in Saga prefecture up to two new mountains that I have not previously visited. Takatoriyama in this area was once the site of a castle similar to nearby Kiyama. The view from the top was great so you can see why it would have been the ideal spot for defence. The second mountain was Mt. Chinzai (Chinzei was sometimes how it appeared in signs) this area has easy forest hiking the only slightly difficult part was going down from Takatoriyama, there are many ropes and the ground is steep at points. 

It was nice weather and we got to visit some more great local mountains in Saga prefecture!




Kuju adventure! Two nights, 32km, lots of weather conditions and mountains Taisenzan, Hijidake, Mimatayama, Shirakuchidake 北大船山・大船山・平治岳・三俣山(西峰)・三俣山(Ⅳ峰)・三俣山(本峰)・三俣山(南峰)・白口岳

Kuju adventure! Two nights, 32km, lots of weather conditions and mountains Taisenzan, Hijidake, Mimatayama, Shirakuchidake  北大船山・大船山・平治岳・三俣山(西峰)・三俣山(Ⅳ峰)・三俣山(本峰)・三俣山(南峰)・白口岳 2021/5/1,2,3

Sick of all of the crazy weather changes I decided to bite the bullet and head off to Kuju. Almost immediately I ran into trouble, a tree had fallen across the tracks causing long delays and making us miss the bus connection. But finally we made it to Bungo-Nakamura station and caught a community bus. 

We hiked from Chojabaru up to Bogatsuru camp ground set up our tents. In the last hours of the day we hiked Taisenzan coming down as the sun set and darkness came over the mountains. The wind was incredibly strong and all night it beat against the tent. We could hear it off in the distance and then suddenly slam into the tent like an ocean wave. 




The next morning I got up early and did a solo hike up Hijidake which was a great breakfast hike and not too challenging. After that we set off to the main hike of the day (Or so I thought) Mimatayama. The trail was gentle at the start and only became difficult right next to the mountain. We climbed three peaks but left the fourth for another day. For lunch we stopped at the mountain Onsen lodge and had a cooked meal. 




This was when things got interesting (Painful?) I headed off alone to hike Shirakuchi-dake. The climb was long and arduous. Many slippy areas, mud and ropes to climb. The weather took a turn for extreme and against my expectations began to snow and hail like crazy. The wind also picked up making it a real ice storm. I made it to the top and deliberated going further but decided to climb down. It was slow going and on the way I hit my knee against rock and blood seeped through my trousers a little. I got down cold, drenched and tired. I made it back to the camp ground to find my friend had packed up and left. I checked my message only to find that his tent had snapped and he had to urgently get home. I slumped into the tent and changed my clothes and crawled into the sleeping bag. Ice continued to cover my tent and my internet stopped working for some reason. So I sat cold and tired listening to an audio book. 




In the evening many more people arrived. The sky cleared up as if by magic and the wind stopped. I went out for a little walk, ate and then set in for the night. In the morning the ground was frozen, my tent was covered in frost. I made some glorious coffee and started to pack away. My hands were in agony and my shoes had frozen solid so I had to force my feet into them. I managed to get all packed away and set off back to Chojabaru. The weather was wonderful and it made the trip back enjoyable. My shoes thawed as I walked and my spirit lifted. 




Back at the station I met an fellow hiker who had come from Kanagawa. He was off to Yufudake next sounds like a fun trip! I made it just in time for the train and sat back an enjoyed the view from the Yufu 1 express train as it cut back through mountains. 

Despite the challenges it was a great trip and I can't wait to go back. On reflection all of the weather let me see many faces of the mountains. Kuju is a wonderful area and as long as you come prepared you will have a great time.

Monday, 19 April 2021

Hijiridake lots of Oni! 鬼ノ鼻山・福寿山・聖岳 2021/4/18

Hijiridake lots of Oni! 鬼ノ鼻山・福寿山・聖岳 2021/4/18

Hijiridake is a mountain in Taku city, Saga. He started at 鬼ノ鼻山憩いの森 and first hiked up to the Onsen viewpoint. This viewpoint has a large Oni shaped view tower with great views of the surrounding area. The hiking from there to Hijiridake was easy and very pleasant. On the way we passed a woman who had so come from Fukuoka to pick bracken fern shoots used for cooking. At Hijiridake there is a beautiful old shrine which is distinctive in that it is made of red brick, the views here were also great! We followed the mountain road back which actually took a long time.
After hiking we went a Confucian shrine which looks distinct compared to Shinto or Buddhist shrines and then we visited a farm shop.




Hiking in Omuta Daimayama, Miikeyama and more! 大間山・荒平山・三池山・高取山 2021/4/10

 Hiking in Omuta Daimayama, Miikeyama and more! 大間山・荒平山・三池山・高取山 2021/4/10

Finally! a weekend with great weather! I caught the train down to Omuta on the border of Fukuoka and Kumamoto to hike a mountain area nearby. I really had no idea what to expect however I found the views beautiful with some particularly great views of Mt. Unzen. I also saw lots of birds, wild flowers and insects (Luckily the horse flies and mosquitos were not out yet). I also found lots of shrines and even an abandoned shrine. I don't recommend following my entire route though as the last part was a little off track. I walked past lots of gates and barbed wire and eventually was in an industrial area with lots of warning signs. I am sure that I was not supposed to to walk through there but luckily nobody stopped me. Instead of going this way after Miikeyama continue along the road to Omuta station or catch a bus as there were plenty of Nishitetsu bus stops along the road. 

I highly recommend the main hiking area, make sure you bring a hiking pole and gloves as it can be steep in places if you go across all mountains.