Another beautiful morning, a little cold but bright and clear. There has been a slight frost. After breakfast, we walk to the nearby Sukayu onsen shop and buy onigiri, boiled eggs and tea for lunch. Then start our climb to Kenashitai wetland on Mt.Hakkoda.
Actually, the start is a little delayed as we are not sure where the start is. Sorted, we are on our way. The first kilometer or so is rather a scramble through beech woods but the tree leaves shining, golden brown against the bright blue sky is recompense enough. As we clear the trees, the going is smoother and the views begin to pan out all around. A lot of the way is along wooden walkways over marshy ground with ponds of dark brown water and the yellow reeds stretching to the beech forest on all sides.
There are some other hikers but not so many as to feel crowded in any way. At one point, the climb becomes a steep, wooden stairway, almost a ladder and D. becomes apprehensive about getting down. After the stairs, we pass through a flat, swampy area with a picnic table and a little further a second similar area. We press on to the point where the track divides, one branch heading for the summit and the other to the head of the ropeway station. Here we turn back and, going down, it is easier to admire the views all around. Mt. Iwaki stands out clearly from the plain below. At the higher of the picnic tables we stop for lunch, enjoying eggs, rice and just wonderful scenery.
The steps area D. was worried about proves no problem and we reach the bottom with wobbly legs but ,still, after returning to our campsite go for a short walk to view some volcanic pools ‘Jigoku Numa pond’ and ‘Manjyufukashi’ where you can sit down to enjoy the warm steam.
Tsuta onsen (hot spring)
Later we drive to another very famous onsen (Tsuta onsen) about 30 minutes away. This is a very traditional place. D. says the women’s side has soap etc. but I am in a very traditional bath with no such refinements. There are no taps or showers just wooden bowls ladles really to dip hot water out of a wooden box divided into 4. The all timber bath was very hot and bubbles periodically rising from between the timbers. It is too hot to stay in for any length of time and I console myself with cold water.
As we cook dinner back at the campsite it gets rapidly colder as the sun sets.
＊Sukayu campsite 500yen/per. + 500 yen/tent site
＊Tsuta Onsen 800yen/per.
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.