FUKUOKA, JAPAN – As soon as we started to ascend through the stone staircase surrounded by the torii, temples and shrines of Mt. Hiko (英彦山), I was immediately reminded of Mt. Hiei in Kyoto, which I climbed at pretty much the same time of the year in 2011. Indeed, Hikosan’s cedar forests have been rightfully compared with the holy mountains in Japan’s main island, and it is a refreshing sight.
It was the second hike of our autumn trip, after a fantastic ascent of Mt. Yufu. Back at Fukuoka, we took three different trains that took us from Hakata Station to Hikosan Station, and from there we took the Buzenbou-bound bus and got off at Kane-no-Torii (200 JPY, 15 mins). The trail here starts, directly leading to the summit. A monorail (560 JPY), which we took out of curiosity, abbreviates the trail by around 30 minutes – not really a significant boost.
From the succession of temples and shrines, the trail enters a cedar forest, and we were enveloped with fog as we passed through this section, making for a soulful sojourn amid the plummeting temperature (we had a low of 5 C) and a continuous, occasionally challenging ascent:
Fog blankets the world
But only for a moment
Love has come and gone
Fortunately the Central Peak, Naka-dake, wasn’t too far away. An abandoned structure stands at the very top, taking away the ‘summit feeling’ while up there. Fortunately, there’s a slightly-higher peak, Minami-dake (South Peak), just 200 meters away. The fog had gone just as we were ascending this peak, revealing the vivid autumn colors all over the mountain – it was beautiful!
From Minami-dake, a traverse is possible, but since one of our companions, Cynthia, had a flight to catch, we decided to just head back to the Center Peak en route to Kane-no-Torii, where we arrived just in time for the bus back to Hikosan Station, and then to Hakata.
AUTUMN HIKES IN NORTHERN KYUSHU (2016)
Hiking matters #515: Mt. Yufu 由布岳
Hiking matters #516: Hikosan 英彦山
Hiking matters #517: Raizan 雷山