My latest Post.

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.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

No plan, getting lost in Hino-no Satoyama.

   It was this noticeboard that alerted me to the area known as Hino-no Satoyama, and, since that day three months ago, I have ventured into the area some seven times. Three of those times were a reconnaissance expedition, two were a planned hike, and once when I was invited to join the couple responsible for erecting the noticeboard.

   The options available are quite extensive, as can be seen in this map. Some of the tracks are well marked and beaten, others, like the ones I experienced with the couple I joined, are almost nonexistent, where an amount of patience is required.

   This 'No Plan - Getting Lost' outing was an opportunity for me to check-out some of the tracks not covered on my previous trips, and hopefully see some sights I had also missed. 

   My starting-point was an athletic park (map location), where a junction of three tracks converged. One of which I had taken on my first hike. 

   Little did I know, when I set-off, that I would return to this point 2-hours later, albeit by the (almost) same route. Which left me with the third track to take. 

   With these types of outings you can never be sure what you will experience. In some instances I have found myself returning and spending up to a year exploring the many tracks that area. Then there is the scenery, and hazards, as can be seen in the above images.

   According to my map, the track I took had the promise of a waterfall so, after crossing a small stream, I headed-into the bush. For the first few hundred meters my track was well defined, and followed the stream I had just crossed. I reached this waterfall and felt confident I was on course. But that was soon to change. Either I veered off course, or the track became non-existent, so, from this point, I was on-my-own and decided to press-on and continue uphill to, what I hoped, would be the main track at the plateau of the hills.
   As I made my way up the hill the calling of a wild deer caught my attention and I decided to see if I could catch a glimpse of the animal. But to no avail. So it was back to my ascent. By now I was working-up a sweat and needed to find a spot to take-a-break and store my jacket. I was relieved when I stumbled across this outcrop of rocks. While I was taking on some well deserved water, I took the opportunity to check my map to see if I could ascertain my location, which wasn't easy - my map is only lines drawn on a sheet of paper and has no contour lines. But, little did I know, the plateau and main track were just a few meters from where I was sitting and, to my delight, when I emerged, there was a sign pointing me in the direction from where I had just come from. So I wasn't lost.

    To confirm where I was, a small sign directed me to (Mt)Hinoyama (373m), and my third visit to this site. I knew that on the other side of the summit was a junction which would lead me to my first descent of the day, to the settlement of Sumiyama (map location).

   I have an envy for those that live in these settlements. With only the one road in and out, there isn't much transport passing through, plus there is the serenity and beauty that surrounds you.

   In preparation for this hike, I did a reconnaissance bike-ride into the valley the week before, to check there was a track up the hill. My map didn't show any tracks on this side of the hills, so I needed to be sure, that way I wouldn't be wandering up-and-down the lane looking for something that was quite possibly not there.

   If this track was the one I thought it was, I would arrive at the junction of the Yuurei-touge Pass, and from there to my next destination. Wherever that was. 

   From where I was standing the track looked steep, so I braced myself for a tough climb, and the day was beginning to heat-up. A few minutes in and I would (literally) stumble-across this collection of small religious icons. Always on the lookout for these, I was impressed with their location plus, on closer inspection, one of them resembled  'Fudo, the God of Waterfalls' (bottom left corner, image on the right).
   I was pleasantly surprised when my track began to level-out but, also at this stage, the track & markings petered-out and I was left scratching my head, again.

    I proceeded on up when, like my earlier ascent, I arrived at the plateau. A couple-of-hundred meters along I arrived at this junction, and the Yuurie-touge Pass. It was during the war, when the American bombers were bombing-the-hell out of Osaka & Kobe, the Japanese Defense Forces  erected a searchlight at this location.

   To the left I would return to (Mt)Hinoyama, to my right, Kami-Daigo Temple. I went straight ahead. If my map information was correct, I would return to where I commenced my hike. Which it did but, much to my consternation, it connected with the track I hiked-up at the beginning of the day. Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. It was now time to take the third track, and to see where it led me to. Little did I know, at that point, that this track would merge with the first track and  back into familiar terrain. 

   I knew up ahead was this building, with many Sekibutsu located nearby. It would also make an ideal site for a lunch-break, and a rest. With all the bush-bashing and climbing & descending, I was beginning to tire. Or, more precisely, I was showing my age.

   On my first visit here, I was overwhelmed by what I was confronted with and, to this day, I still haven't been able to gather any information as to the name and reason of the location.

   During the course of my rest here, I decided to take a more thorough look around and, in a secluded corner of the site, obscured behind a Setsumatsusha (small shrine), was this collection of Fudo Statues. In a gap in the rock was a small stream of water flowing-into a concrete bowl. Someone had kindly placed a mug there which was my cue to refresh my thirst and, let me tell you, it was refreshing & pure. 

   During my lunch-break I perused my map for my next destination - do I go on ahead into familiar territory, or do I look for another track, one that I hadn't used before? On my way to this point I remember espying, what I thought was, another track (actually I noticed a couple). So I decided to u-turn and head back down towards where I had just come from. Five minutes along I reached the junction and proceeded in my new direction. A little further along was this fallen tree, with a large fungi attached, that lay over the track. Just around the corner from this tree was another junction, and a familiar site . . . .

   Nine days ago, while hiking in the area with my hosts, we passed this site from the other direction. The rock was enormous, and I was informed that locals worshiped here, as the rock was considered to have had some connection with  a God. The building was constructed as a shrine, which has become dilapidated over the years. But, judging by the many empty shochu bottles lying-about, I got the impression the site was still frequented.


                       From this point my hosts followed the stream that meandered through the valley and, eventually, leading us back into civilization. Although it was still quite early - it was only 12:30pm - I was beginning to tire, and so I decided to call-it-a-day.


   I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge my hosts, Toshiyuki & Noriko Sawai, for giving me a guided tour through these hills and enlightening me on the history and beauty that lies within Hino-no Satoyama.
   Toshiyuki & Noriko have lived here all their lives and know the area like the back of their hands, and have frequented the area many times, guiding others like myself. Domoarigatoogozaimasu.

   In 1592 construction began on, what was to become, Momoyama-jo. The castle was being build for Toyotomi Hideyoshi who, just the previous year, had retired from the Regency. Some 20,000-to-30,000 workers were provided, from twenty provinces, to construct the castle. The rocks required for the foundation were gathered in this area and, to this day, evidence of their labors can still be seen. What amazed me, and to put this into perspective, is that back then, they didn't have the convenience of heavy machinery to assist them. 

   As always, thank-you for reading this post, and I look forward to sharing my next experience with you. So, until then,


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