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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
Course details and images - https://ridewithgps.com/trips/15340681
Video - https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=juaEqPrnrvg