Ura Bandai michi no eki was very quiet, but the sun has us up before 7am. The other 3 overnight vehicles have already left.
Today we plan a long walk, so set off, early-ish, for Laviespa Ura Bandai. This is an onsen, gym and swimming pool complex not far from the michi no eki. We park at the onsen car park and find the Oguni Panorama hiking course west side entrance behind the onsen building with the notice said ‘Beware the Bear’.
Oguni Panorama Hiking course
This is a fairly easy climb, the trail being clear well marked and a steady rather than a steep incline. At times it runs level and occasionally downhill. The downside is it runs through thick woodland or high Sasa(bamboo) grass so panorama there is none. You walk for over 6 kilometres hemmed in by vegetation and it is hot and steamy.
At the onsen the height is 800 metres and the final viewing point is 1200 metres. At least from here you can climb onto the wooden viewing platform that lifts you above the bushes. Unfortunately, it was rather hazy so there was little to see. Just enough to let you know you were missing a really rather spectacular sight.
Dropping down from the disappointing vantage point to the Oguni Rest house near the Oguninuma or Oguni Pond we discover a large empty wooden building with a toilet. From this place it is over a kilometre to the pond. There is then a wooden walkway of around 800 metres across the wetland and back along the pond edge.
Here yellow Nikkokisuge and orange Azealia were in bloom. We were a little early and a little late respectively to catch them at their best. This section of the walk was at least pleasant. Various cuckoos, Common, Siberian and Little all calling from here and there and the frogs were in fine voice too.
Seseragi Hiking course
We have left the car at Laviespa onsen, but we are tired and do not fancy the return trek as it is just not that pleasant a walk. We opt, therefore, to take the Seseragi course back to the road. This cuts our return hike in half, being only 3 kilometres, but means we have to take an infrequent bus back to the onsen car park.
The Seseragi route we find to be a much more enjoyable walk in a much better environment. It is a long downhill, of course, through airy beechwoods. On the way up it would have been a much better prospect than the endless sasa. Unfortunately, we had to hurry to catch the bus or incur a very long wait.
Due to rushing more than necessary, we catch the bus with 15 mins. to spare. The bus drops us at the front door of the onsen and we take a leisurely bath. D. and I both find ourselves the only occupants of our respective outside baths.
After the bath, we drive to Kitakata to the supermarket. Supplied, we return to Ura Bandai michi no eki to enjoy a cool beer before dinner.
＊Laviespa Ura Bandai onsen ; 550 yen / adult
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.