I was very impressed with the signage that was posted throughout the area I was about to enter. Every junction along the way had a sign giving directions to wherever I was heading and, as I take you through this post, I shall include images that will verify that. But, sadly, there were no signs giving directions as to where the track begins and ends. The first sign was this one, in the image on the left, located some way into the course. I discovered this track quite by coincidence. I had come on a bike-ride to check-out a road that lead into the hills overlooking Fushimi and Yamashina Wards and, as I was about to commence my ascent, I was stopped at a gate by a security guard who informed me I could not continue. He then went on to tell me about this hiking track, and where it commenced from. I returned a few days later, again on two-wheels, in search of where-and-how I could commence this hike.
I arrived in the area at the Ono subway station, on the Tozai Line, and from there a 15-to-20 minute walk to the track. My first photo-opp' was this interesting rock. The sign says 'Neko Iwa', or 'Cat Rock'. Supposedly named because the rock looks like a Cat. Maybe you can see the resemblance. A bit further on was this collection of concrete lanterns. Looking around I found nothing to indicate why they are located here. I did notice though, how well groomed the garden area was. The bridge, in the rear of the image, was the commencement of my ascent.
The track gradually weaved it's way up the hill when, an hour after setting-out from Ono-eki, I arrived at my first junction of the day. I was a bit taken-aback as to how quickly I had arrived at this point. Although it was a clear and calm morning, I did notice how colder the temperature was, compared to down below. Which was why I didn't hang-around for too long. In the image on the right, are two signs kindly placed here by the 'Yamashina Hiking Club'. They give information as to where I can go from here. In this instance I had three options. But, as Mt Takatsuka was my next destination, that's all I needed to know.
Another junction, another sign and, before I knew it, I had arrived at Takatsukayama. Again, I was surprised how soon I reached this point and, if I hadn't become suspicious with the way the track began to descend, I would have missed it and ended-up god-knows-where. Apart from the signs detailing the name and height of the summit, there was just a concrete peg in the ground with two rocks either side. There was no view to be had and, as I was now walking through light snow, I decided to u-turn and head for my next destination - Ushiozanhougon Temple.
As I was backtracking, I came to a junction with a sign giving me an alternative route, allowing me to bypass the first junction (thank-you YHC). When I reached this tunnel I suddenly realized where I was. The road I was about to pass under, is the road I was prevented from cycling up by the very-nice and helpful security guard; I am curious to know what all the secrecy is about, and why no-one is allowed access to the top.
On the other side of the tunnel was this dilapidated bridge that has definitely seen better days. For once I was more-than-happy to get my boots wet, as an alternative to risking my life by using the bridge.
From here my path began a slight descent, running parallel to a stream,with, judging by the fallen trees and other limbs, evidence of past storms.
A few-hundred meters further along, my next junction, and the car-park for Ushiozanhougon. I was now in familiar surroundings - I was here the previous week on a cycling reconnaissance trip to gather information and take photos of the area surrounding the temple. As I emerged from the forest I was struck by a very-cold and strong wind, which squashed any plans of me taking a rest and having a bite-to-eat while here.
After paying my respects at the shrine, and taking a few photos, I moved-on. My track was over in the corner of the complex, by the statue of the Buddhist Monk Shinran. As I was making my way past the statue, I was reacquainted with an elderly couple that were here on my previous visit. I got the impression this is a daily ritual, where they come to pay their respects. Quite impressive, considering their ages and the long walk up the path to get here.
The track, as it made it's way up the hill, passed around the back of the temple grounds before turning away and heading deeper into the forest. The cold wind wasn't as strong here, as it was down below, but the ground-covering of snow was deeper and more extensive.
My next destination was (Mt)Otowayama but, before that, I wanted to check-out a viewpoint I had heard about. Arriving at this junction, in the image on the left, I was now joining the 'Tokaido Road', a 1,700km path that was created to connect Naniwa (modern day Osaka) with Edo (modern day Tokyo) many hundreds of years ago. Today, what parts of this road that hasn't been desecrated, is ideal hiking terrain and, no matter what part of the path you are on, the signs are all identical. Turning right here puts me on to the path that leads to Ishiyama-dera Temple, that I plan to explore at another time but, today, I want to check-out the view.
And what a view it was. What I was looking at was the southern end of (Lake)Biwako, and the mouth of the Setagawa River (map location). Although it is difficult, in this image, to distinguish the mountains in the distance, let me tell you, they were a magnificent sight.
(Mt)Otowayama 593m -
It was about now my stomach was making overtures that it needed a fuel intake or, more precisely, it was lunchtime. But, unfortunately, there was nowhere to sit, thanks to everything being covered in snow, and the cold breeze. So I made my descent in the hope I could find an ideal spot. A sign, a bit further down the track, pointed to a toilet and, what I hoped, a sheltered spot for the break. Sadly I was out-of-luck. But I did use the toilet.
I rejoined my track, which soon became several flights of steps. For me, hiking on terrain like this is far better ascended than the other way around. Descending along steps like these makes ones leg muscles scream-out in agony.
Within minutes of my leaving this idyllic spot, the serenity would be shattered by the sounds of traffic passing along National Route-1 or, what is known as the 'Tokai-do Road'. The transformation was so dramatic that, within a few meters, I had gone from a dirt track, to concrete steps, then this bridge (map location).
Across the other side of the bridge I arrived at a junction, with this signpost giving directions to three destinations - where I had just come from, the continuance of the 'Tokaido Road' and a track leading to the Keihan Otani Station. The station is just a few hundred meters away through the settlement, which was my planned goal of today's hike but, as it was still early afternoon, I decided to proceed further to see what lay in store. I had a picture in my mind that I would emerge onto the 'Biwako Canal' and, if that was the case, I would follow the canal to the Keihan Yamashina Station. To cut a long story short, I finally ended-up at the Keihan Oiwake Station, one stop down the line from Otani, after taking a track that took my over a hill that overlooked where I had just come from. Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Before my train arrived, and the 2-hour journey home, I had time for one last mug of coffee and a pack of current buns.
As always, thank-you for reading this and, until the next time,
Course details and images - https://ridewithgps.com/trips/20046343