Oct. 23rd. 2022,
Kiho-Umigami Koen michi no eki
Kiho-Umigami Koen is in most ways a good place to stay. There is a covered walkway which would be great on a rainy night, and it is flat with reasonable facilities. It was a little noisy on a Saturday night. It was also very warm for late October, and we were troubled by mosquitoes.
The beach here is famous as a spot for Sea Turtles to lay eggs, as the name suggests.
We leave the coast and head into the mountains again. This time to Odaigahara on the Odaigahara driveway. As we climb, approaching our destination, the view of mountains is wonderful, the colour of leaves sensational.
Once more, we are naive about the numbers of people in such places. As we approach the car park, at the end of the driveway there are large numbers of vehicles parked along the scant verges and cones to discourage parking at spots too narrow or dangerous. As we arrive late, it is difficult to find a space in the car park. Luckily, the early risers have completed their hikes and are leaving.
From overheard conversation, we learn that the car park was full by 7am. It is perhaps best not to attempt this hike on a sunny Sunday in Koyo (autumn colour) season.
Sasa grass and Sugi Woods
There are various courses from this parking area. We begin a fairly short hike of perhaps eight kilometres return to Daija-gura. This trek starts in a fairly dull way, heading downhill through Sasa grass (Japanese pampas grass) and mainly Sugi (cedar) woods.
After crossing a stream, the course heads uphill but in a leisurely way and long stretches are basically flat. Underfoot the terrain varies between concrete, wooden walkway, very rough gravel and the occasional rocky scramble.
Hebi Point, Daija-gura
As the Sugi trees become fewer and the deciduous trees thinner, the way becomes more open and airy. The really wonderful views, apart from the drive up, are reserved for the end of the trail.
This ends at Daija-gura, an outcrop over an abyss. Superb views of rock faces and deep, wooded valleys stretching away into the blue yonder. Just breath-taking.
The downside is that the outcrop is not for the fainthearted. Also, on this sunny afternoon there is a queue of people waiting to stand, or crouch, at the end for pictures. Space being at a premium, this can only be done one at a time.
On our way back, we pause for a very late lunch by a statue of Emperor Jinmu at Ushiishigahara. This is one of the few spots to sit and rest and consequently crowded.
Returning to the car park, we follow the Sunday night traffic down and back towards the Osaka conurbation. Stopping for the night at Kudoyama michi no eki. A spacious place we have used before.
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.