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This view,this beauty
A tear unbidden
Creeps into my eye.

My stay is short
But I shall return to this place
If only my life is long enough.

Such beauty
Gazing upon it
I hope my years are many.

Bokusui Wakayama.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Return to Shizuhara.

   The original title for this post was going to be the names of the four mountains I planned to conquer on this trip, but only two of them had names (only one had a peg marking the summit), one I wasn't quiet sure whether I was at the summit (although it was confirmed once I downloaded the GPS data) and the fourth I missed due to me taking the wrong track (the story of my life). So the title 'Return to Shizuhara' is appropriate as I was to spend most of the day in the area.

Map Location.
   After a two-hour x two bus and one train ride, I arrived at the Hanajiri Bridge, on the outskirts of the settlement of Ohara. Five minutes was all the time I required to set-up my GPS recorder and camera and, as I wasn't sure how much time I needed to complete today's course, I was eager be on my way.

   After weaving my way through some residential lanes I soon arrived at the commencement of my track. A tall wire gate was my first obstacle but, after a gentle shove, I was through and on-my-way. Immediately after I was in for a shock - I was confronted by the ugly sight of a concrete lane and felled trees. My first thought was that my track would no longer exist and I would have to look for another destination to explore. But, a few hundred meters on, passing more felled trees and a couple of excavators, my track reappeared. Phew. 

   I was now back in my favorite environment and eager to put the past behind me and ascend my first summit. 

   A signpost, giving me directions, conformed I was on the right track - no pun intended. Although written in Kanji I was able to recognize the characters from my research.

   A little further-on I arrived at this junction. The track to my first summit was straight ahead, with the track to the right leading to the settlement of Iwakura, signifying I would be returning here.

Map Location.
    Almost exactly an hour after stepping-off the bus at the Hanajiri Bridge, I had arrived at Mt Hyotankuzureyama, and my first summit of the day. Although the summit was surrounded by dense forest, I was able to catch glimpses of life 532m below. To the south was (Mt)Hieizan, towering over the settlement of Yase. To the north, Ohara and, to the west, the settlement of Iwakura.


   My descent back to the earlier junction only took 5-minutes and onto my next destination - Shizuhara. But first I had to pass through Iwakura.

   As I was about to emerge from the forest, my nose picked-up the smell of freshly-baked bread and, to my utter surprise, was this bakery. I have a weak constitution when it comes to freshly-baked bread so I needed to press-on before temptation got the better of me.

Map Location.
   My stroll through Iwakura was uneventful, except for an encounter I had with several kindergarten staff and their young charges, who were taking a walk into the rural outback to view the recently planted rice-fields. While I was taking this photo a fellow hiker approached with news that, just a few days ago, when he was hiking in this area, he encountered a mother and her two bear cubs, and warned me to be on the lookout for them. Great. That's all I needed.

   On the next section, I encountered these two interesting collections of Buddhist Icons. Always on the lookout for these, I am amazed at the isolated locations I stumble-across them.

   No sooner had I re-entered the forest, I was to emerge at this junction, and familiar terrain. It was about 6-weeks ago I passed-through this junction as I descended from Mt Minouragatake, on my four peaks hike.

Map Location.
   From the junction I made a beeline to the Shizuhara-jinja Shrine and, after 3-hours on the move, the opportunity for a bite-to-eat. I also wanted to use the opportunity to air my feet and check my map. From this point I had two options and I needed to choose which was the best. 

   I chose the nearer of the two, which took me past the Naritosan Amida Temple and around the rear of  Shizuhara-jinja. My information, for this next segment, and my second summit, would take about 40-minutes and, judging by the contours on my map, it was going to be steep. So, as the temperature was getting hotter, and I had a stomach full of food, I decided to slow my pace. I was doing good time and in no hurry. It was steep, but only took me 30-minutes.


   Summit number-2 of the day, if it was the summit - I took a look-around and found no marker-peg or notice - was to be an introduction into some local history. Mt Shirotaniyama (474m) was the location of Seihara-jo Castle, and home to Miyoshi Nagayoshi (1522-1564), a Japanese Samurai and Daimyo who was lord of the Miyoshi Clan during the Sengoku Period. It is not quite clear when the castle was established. Some say between 1469-to-1486, while others say between 1492-to-1501. 

   For the following 30-minutes my track would undulate along a ridge-line until I arrived at this junction. It was here I would detour to conquer my third summit, and unbeknown to me at the time, my last. 



   The track, if there was one, was sparsely marked with a variety of colors of tape which made it confusing. So I decided to head uphill in the hope of finding a marker. Reaching a plateau I came to the conclusion that this was a summit - later to be confirmed when I checked the GPS data - that was completely covered by trees. After the obligatory photo-opp I decided to descent to the junction and continue on my way. Easier said than done. Somehow I managed to head in the opposite direction and, after pausing to calculate where I was, I was soon back in familiar terrain.

  Another undulating plateau and, 30-minutes later, another junction. It was at this point where I made my mistake, denying me the opportunity to knock-off summit number-4. A sign, pointing to the Kurama Station, is the one I should have taken but, at the time, I felt it was too soon and proceeded straight ahead. 

Map Location.

   The result being, I completed a loop and emerged at the settlement of Shizuhara. Needless-to-say, I wasn't a happy-chappy. In front of me was the Yakkouzaka Pass and Kurama and,to add insult-to-injury, I had to pass the junction where I would have emerged, if I had taken the correct track.

   I was surprised, when I emerged at Kurama, how quiet the settlement was. With Kyoto City, and it's environs, becoming the top tourist destination in the world, normally this place is humming with people. I wasn't complaining. All I wanted to do was get to the station, hop-on a train, and relax for the 30-minute ride to Demachiyanagi. But, before then, I had to purchase the obligatory Omiyagi

   With the next train 20-minutes away, I had time to take one last photo with this giant Tengu (that's me on the left). Since my return I have perused my map of the area and have decided on a return visit to check-out the segment of track I missed, plus try my luck at another couple of mountains in the area. Mt Amagadake (map location) being one of them.

                                                                  Until next time,


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