It's about 6-weeks ago that I emerged from the bush onto route-61, after completing the 'Kiyotaki to Route-61' segment of the 'Kyoto Trail'. My original plan had been to return much sooner but, thanks to the elements, in this instance the unseasonal weather, I had to delay this segment. The weather today though was perfect - partly cloudy skies, a light breeze and warm - and, after two hours of travelling to get here, I was keen to get on my way.
Today's course would take me over Mt Mukou to the Yanaki-toge Pass, where I would descend into the settlement of Ninose. From here I follow route-38 to the town of Kurama before heading-into the hills again, and the Yakko-zaka Pass. My descent would bring me to the settlement of Shizuhara, before re-entering the forest for the last time. At the end I would emerge at Ohara and a bus trip to Demachiyanage Station.
My departure point was close to the confluence of the Kurama and Kamo Rivers. I was wary of the heavy rain the day before and, crossing the river, evidence of how heavy it had been was obvious. I was also conscience that the terrain might be just as hazardous.
Soon the sounds of the roaring river were behind me then, after crossing a couple of streams, I was about to encounter my first hill-climb of the day. It was quite steep but very-well maintained, as can be seen in this image. As I was in no hurry, I didn't push myself but, with the thick outdoor jacket I was wearing, I was beginning to sweat and huff-and-puff.
After 10-minutes I arrived at this bench and the opportunity to shed the jacket and take in the views below, before continuing. As I made my way up towards Mt Mukou I encountered more rest sites, offering more vistas of the north-western suburbs of Kyoto City. Arriving at the summit I immediately realized that I had been here before - a couple of years ago, while hiking from Kumogahata to Ninose, I took a side track to Mt Mukou and, upon arrival, placed it on my 'must return' list, to see where it emerged. So, unbeknown to me, here I was.
Ten minutes later I arrived at the Yonaki-toge Pass, where I would join the Tokaido Road, and we would stay together until we reached Ohara. The descent into the settlement of Ninose would be steep and zigzaggy and care would be needed.
At the base of the hill is the Moriya-jinja Shrine, and an opportunity to take a break before moving on. Recent storms had left it's mark on the complex and the two trees that were responsible for causing the damage were still evident. I have a huge respect for the elements, but it's at times like this I wish it wouldn't cause so much damage. Leaving the shrine, I crossed the Eizan Rail-Line that would run parallel with me until I reached Kurama, and passed through the settlement of Ninose.
Crossing a bridge, I saw many Sakura in the final stages of shedding their bloom before the green leaves took over. Being in Japan at this time of year is a delight, especially when celebrating Hanami.
Torii signifying the entrance to the area known as Kibune and the Kifune-jinja Shrine. This is a popular area for tourists and there is a track that takes you over a hill, linking Kubune to Kurama. But that is a day-trip on it's own. Unless you have the time & energy, then check the area out.
A hundred meters up from the entrance to the Kurama-dera Temple is my next turn-off and a return to the hills and forest I so enjoy hiking in.
Immediately after crossing a bridge is this noticeboard, with course map and a warning of the possibility of one encountering bears. The map is the course the 'Tokaodo Road' takes but, as the 'Kyoto Trail' is encompassed within the 'road, it serves a dual purpose. As the area is a popular hiking destination, there are many tracks within the area, and one has to pay attention to staying on the right path. Like I didn't. A track, running parallel to mine - or so I thought - took me in another direction and, through sheer luck, I managed to rejoin my course.
All wasn't lost though. I did manage to encounter a couple of photo opportunities during my short detour, along with providing the impetus to return and check-out other tracks in the area.
Sitting on the Kagura-den, at the Shizuhara-jinja Shrine, was the perfect location to have my break. The location provided ideal vistas overlooking the settlement and surrounding countryside. While sitting here I was soon joined by a fellow outdoorholic, who had just hiked from the Demachyanagi area of Kyoto, over the mountain in front of us, and decided to take-a-break at the shrine. From here he was heading to Kurama, where he would catch the train and eventually home. For a seventy-year-old, he had accomplished a lot during his hiking career and, after 20-years, had just completed the 'Kansai Hyakumeizan' (100-mountains in the Kansai Region). Quite a feat.
Regretfully it was time to move on. My new-found friend was a very interesting fellow hiker and I could have talked and compared hikes longer. As I made my way out of Shizuhara I passed this interesting garden display. The things one encounters on their journeys.
Soon my path left the sealed road and
I was back into familiar territory - dirt track, ambling stream, trees & more trees.
15-minutes after leaving the sealed road of route-40, I was to rejoin it at this secluded shrine, and a Sakura still in full bloom. From this point my track follows the road for a hundred meters, but a track passing-through the concrete Torii, takes one to the summit of Mt Konpira and down into Ohara. I am now convinced that a return trip here is on the cards - watch this space.
The final off-road segment was a gradual descent through a forest that followed this meandering stream, before emerging on the outskirts of Ohara. In front of me was the mountain range that borders Kyoto and Shiga Prefectures and is famous for such mountains as Mt Hiei, Mt Mizui and Mt Obi, to name a few. Passing through some farming plots - mainly vegetables - I arrived at this collection of signposts. It was at this point the 'Tokaido
By now I began to sense the days hike was nearing it's end. A bridge took me across the Takano River then up a narrow lane and, there in front of me, was post number-24, at the junction with route-367. Five-and-a-quarter hours, and eleven-point-five kilometers after leaving route-61, I had reached my goal. The bus-timetable across the road told me I had 10-minutes before the next bus, enough time to reflect on my day.
Looking through the images of my trip, like this one on the right, I realize how privileged I was to have experienced such beautiful scenery and of the lone hiker I met at the Shizuhara Shrine.
As I compose this post my mind is working on a plan to return to the area and, hopefully, that trip won't be too far away. And that will be another post. So, until then . . . .
Video - https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=bCoYOLBlpzo
Course details and images - https://ridewithgps.com/trips/14055518