September, 8 th 2019 Ōsaka
Hiking Mt. Kokuzou. I was keen to hike today’s trail for a very long time. It’s located deep in the mountains of Takarazuka, where we already enjoyed the amazing mountains Oiwadake and Hundred Rock. The weather in Ōsaka isn’t stable at all. It’s typhoon season and sudden heavy rain occurred almost every day. I wanted to enjoy this trail on a sunny day, so I decided last minute hoping for the best. I expected no participants since people, so I really looked forward to spend some time on the trail on my own. But Mausam and joined and Sayaka also showed up at the Station. I couldn’t have wished for a better team. I the morning I overslept, but managed to get ready within half an hour and soon I found myself sitting next to Sayaka in the train heading into the Takarazuka mountains. Mausam joined while the landscape outside became wilder and wilder. The big cities’s face turned into a colourful countryside with only few houses. I still wonder nicely the countryside is connected to the city. It was a wonderful sunny day, the sky was deep blue with some fluffy clouds. The little village around Kusano Station payed in between cushy green mountains and seemed to be asleep. It was calm and and nobody was around. We walked along the streets to the trailhead while passing rice fields. The sun was warm and powerful and I could feel how its energy flooded my body. This was a promising day, I could feel it. Usually my week is very busy, after work I have a tight schedule of sports I practice and the few gaps are filled with the tasks of adult’s life. The city is pulsing and its flashing energy catches me, gives me the power to stay in motion. But right now, the city is far away and it felt like getting off from a rollercoaster. Time stopped. Here’s another rhythm. The sun shined silently. Not even the clouds were moving. Slowly we walked through the neighbourhood. For reasons that are hidden from me the trails in this area aren’t very popular and therefore it’s condition can be very surprising. But this time it seemed we would fall into adventure at the very beginning. We couldn’t find the trailhead. We entered a small embankment on the edge and hoped to hit the trail somehow. Thanks to modern gps and smartphones we found a small path with red label within minutes. I still have no idea where the “real” entrance is. The hike started immediately. It went up. On a narrow super steep trail. Drops of sweat fell on the dry ground after only two minutes and soon I couldn’t see anything through my foggy glasses. This trail haven’t seen hikers for a while, it was full of spiderwebs with gorgeous green yellow spiders waiting for the next fly. Or human’s face. Unfortunately they were placed at the perfect high for a spider’s kiss. At least they are not toxic, but I doubt they become a prince or princess… We gained height very fast and I hoped with every step that we would arrive the top very soon. But it didn’t seem to end. We arrived at a blank rock face
which we had to climb for around twenty meters. It was saved with a chain. On top of it we got the reward for the exhausting climb. The view was amazing. We could see the sleepy village between the mountain’s ridges. A train was slowly passing through the green and yellow patched fields. Surrounded by green mountains and blue sky. Silence. Tiredly we enjoyed the scenery unless the sun’s heat reflected by the naked stones made it inconvenient to stay. We continued climbing. Now, we all were armed with long sticks to avoid collecting all the spiders and carrying them up the mountains. We looked like Samurai. Silently we climbed up and luckily we arrived the top very soon. We found ourselves on a ridgeback. To both side there was a valley which looked like siblings. The path was narrow and lucky us the trees’s shadows kept protecting us from the burning sun. We were close to the sky. One thing I like most about the area is the smell of the trail. It is very unique. I couldn’t see many pine tress, but it kinda smelled like them. It was warm and dry smell. It always reminds me of my time in Spain and brings a deep feeling of happiness. Soon we arrived the first peak, the letters were strongly washed out, so the name of it remains a secret. Our trail was leading us down again and I wasn’t happy about it. It went as steep down as up before. Quickly we lost a lot of elevation, which we had to climb up directly. It was exhausting. Slowly, but continuously we kept climbing up. My body’s skin lost water like a sieve. My hair was wet and sweat dropped into my eyes. The towel which I carry always during summer couldn’t dry my body anymore. Finally we arrived the summit of Hachiojisan, where we took a break in the shadow of surrounding trees. Summer in Japan is exhausting and creates an own difficulty while being on a hike, but nature is still enjoyable. Anyway I’m looking forward to welcoming autumn soon. After climbing up for a long part our bodies got the chance to cool down during the break until we continued refreshed on the narrow mountains’s ridgeback. It went slightly up and down while we were still Samurais scaring off spiders off their webs. It was enjoyable to walk along the ridgeback, the trail was very homogenous all day, but it didn’t reduce its beauty. We climbed some rocky stones and behind them the surprisingly amazing summit of Kokuozan was located. At the summit we enjoyed an almost 360 degree view of the two patched villages. Far away in one direction enthroned the inner Japanese mountains and far away merged into a gigantic roof of triangles silhouettes in the blue sky. In the other direction there was the first sign of civilisation, Sanda-Shi, which houses looked like cute toy houses. The fluffy bright white clouds seemed as close as possible to touch them. I don’t know how long we stayed, but all of us deeply enjoyed and I was happy for the opportunity to share this moment with my two wonderful fellows. The sun was warming us up, but spared us with its burning power. I was deeply calm and happy. After a while we continued our hike, the last part. Behind the summit there were some loose rocks, which offered an even more amazing scenery. We stayed again for a while until we finally followed the small path back to station. The descent was, for sure, as steep as the ascent. It was a difficult terrain and my tired legs and me were happy when the trail became a path which only went down slightly. Still in the mountains we entered a glade, which harboured an old Temple. This wooden temple was very unique. Usually the huge ones are in a perfect colourful condition. But this one was different, it was very old and charming. We climbed down through a forest and ended up on a paved road guiding through rice fields. Down here the scenery was as beautiful as from the top of the mountains. The colours were incredible, I couldn’t believe my eyes. This is the Japan I deeply fell in love with. We walked through the lonely village and arrived at the train Station which was lonely as well. The loevely summer’s day ended with a cold cup of Mugicha (barley tea). The train took us back out of this isolated paradise of calmness into the never sleeping city which welcoming us and electrifying me again.
September, 1 st 2019 Ōsaka
Hiking Mt. Nishiotafuku. Since three weeks it is more or less continously raining. No wonder that only a few brave hikers showed up today even though we were going to hike Mt. Rokko, the most famous mountain around Ōsaka. Rokkosan was not only one of the first mountains we climbed, it was the very first one of this year and when we arrived summit it was freezing cold. We could only take a picture and had to climb down as fast as possible. I was always keen to visit the summit again. I created the trail already a long time ago with some advice of a hiking book Mat gave me at the very beginning. I was surprised when we entered the forest close to Okamoto Station. Only a few weeks ago climbed down on the exactly same trail. The trail was guiding us into a dark deep forest. We followed a river running in a canyon to a waterfall, where the remains of a shrine were located. It was a very gloomy atmosphere. We passed it quickly and climbed up deeper into the forest. The forest remained deep and only few sunlight arrived the ground. It went up continuously. Due to all the rain in the last weeks humidity increased a lot and even though the trail wasn’t demanded I sweated a lot. Water was just running down my face, my arms and my legs. It felt as if my body was leaky and the towel I carried couldn’t soak it. We arrived at a junction and I remembered it. On some wooden benches we took a short break for cooling down. We followed the the trail guiding us deeper into the forest. It went slightly down, so we had a break from sweating, but around 500 m elevation were still to climb up. It was a quiet hike and after the last tour with around twenty participants I was not disappointed about the five of us this time. Suddenly we could hear a river next to us, but couldn’t see it until we met an elderly couple coming out of a tiny side trail next to the river. It looked very adventurous and the direction was also correct, so we decided to give it a try. It was a clear mountain river harbouring many huge rocks. It was the perfect place to get some refreshment while dipping the feet into the cold water and having lunch. After lunch we started into the trail on the other side. The trails in the map weren’t accurately all day, but since the elderly couple came from this trail, I trusted. Another junction followed soon which wasn’t on the map. We decided to take the left path. It was the wilder one and some doubts were raising inside me. I could feel it. We would fall into adventure again. The trail was wild and full of spiderwebs, but at least it clearly existed. I have to say after all the adventures I’m not very keen to hike this kind of trails anymore. But as always we were lacking alternatives. Soon we continued into a dry riverbed. We were deep in a canyon somewhere in the mountains. It was humid and the soil was deep brown and soft. I was leading and required all my multi tasking skills: watching out for spiderwebs in front of my head, watching my feet for snakes and watching the phone if the way is correct. Then a disgusting smell. I never smelled that before. A kind of fear raised inside me to find a body around the next corner. But nothing. We had to climb up again and the trail’s condition didn’t change. We found a manmade red label with Nishiotafuku written on it, the mountain were heading to. It seemed to be not that old and I was very happy. I trusted. The trail was narrow and soft and ended up into a bigger one. But suddenly dead end! But we found blue labels guiding us onto a small path. We followed and now it went very difficult. The trail was narrow and next to us it went down very steep. The soil was soft and didn’t provide any grip. I hoped it would only be a short passage, but it continued to be like this. I hadn’t grip anymore and my feet were full of mud slipping in my sandals. They wouldn’t get clean the next days. I changed my shoes and soon stepped into an absolutely dead end. We climbed in Zick Zack lines through the mountains many times before but this time it was another lever of danger. I decided to turn around. Luckily we found the original trail with many trustworthy red labels on the big trail we merged in before. It’s condition was difficult as well, but still ok. And suddenly we stepped out on ended up on one of the main trails. I felt very released. It was close to summit, but still the forest was as deep as the beginning. We had to climb up again and soon water was running out of my body. Only few meters before summit we could sneak some views of Kobe and the Ocean. The trail was still wild and high deep fresh green fern plants let us disappear. It felt like being in a jungle and this part of the trail had its very own cute charm. It was the best part of today’s trail. The trail ended on an abandoned road which we followed. The summit of Nishiotafukuyama literally doesn’t exists or isn’t accessible. Luckily we also planned to visit Rokkosan summit, so we weren’t too disappointed. We were on the back of a chain of mountains, Rokkosancho, which hosts a curvy road where cars drive insanely fast. Luckily there are trails leading to Rokko summit and avoiding the road. We were very tired and the summit was close. Just before the top we had to climb a staircase 150 stars! I counted them! But then, finally we arrived at the summit. We were alone and could fully enjoy the place with its amazing view. I only checked the time for the last bus, so we checked again. The bus was coming in twenty minutes and there was a 2.4 km walk along the road. We decided to give it a try and headed for the bus. For sure we couldn’t manage. So we had to wait around one hour for the next one. This time I loved Japan and its vending machines. I was almost dried out. In the end we got the very last bus heading to Ashiyagawa Station. At Ashiyagawa we decided to have dinner together which was more difficult than expected. In the end of a long restaurant search we ended up in a fancy restaurant eating Zashimi (raw fish). A few bites later we left the restaurant and I made a bunch of Nutella pancakes and finally with a full belly I fell into my bed and fell asleep immediately.
August, 24 th 2019 Ōsaka
Hozankyo River. Today’s trail was a very special one. I heard about it coincidentally a long time ago. I did some research and managed to gather some informations hidden deeply in the Japanese world wide web to create a trail in the end. This trail was known and loved by adventurous locals and while creating it in the coldness of winter I dreamed of summer and this trail. This trail would lead us upstream a running river deep Hyogo’s mountains. It was short, but I was sure it would be challenging. I set the date very carefully while hoping for a hot summer’s day. I announced the event for a long time in advance and wondered that almost anybody signed up. Only last minute a bunch of people signed up, so we would be the usual group. How wrong I was. In the morning I prepared well and packed all my electronic devices and a second set of clothes into dry bags and lunch boxes (cheapest and safest alternative to keep your stuff dry and swimming). Soon we formed a small group in the train. I didn’t realised when it happened, but at Karatodai Station we suddenly formed a huge group of twenty people or more. What happened was that friends invited their friends and interestingly some of the friend’s friends were friends too, forming cross links all around the group. Once we arrived everybody spread and disappeared into the nearby supermarket and as always they didn’t disappeared at the same time, they did it like in a relay race. It took a while until everybody finally got out of the supermarket and we could start hiking. We started into a sunny day and I was wondering how we could hike that trail with this huge group. I wondered how many people would remain in the end. But first we had to pass the residential area. People formed small groups and talked and enjoyed their time. Suddenly we arrived the Hozankyo river and people followed the road next to it. At the shore a family had a BBQ. It was time to enter the river and I had doubts. But this was today’s trail, so we climbed down the shore and everybody was preparing to enter the river. I wonder about the family’s thoughts in that moment a large group of foreigner from all over the world coming out of nowhere and entering the small local river. I decided to stay in my hiking shoes, since my sandals lacking grip in the water, but I saw some people wearing flip flops. I entered the water and started hiking into adventure. I waited for this moment all winter. The river was beautiful. Huge rough were laying in the riverbed, forming deep pools, rapids of water and gentle sandbanks. Those who didn’t want to get wet feet now tried to walk at the rocky shore which ended in adventurous bouldering. The group split slightly and I was within the first third. There was a girl, Mari, which was amazingly good prepared waring special non slippery water shoes and even a life jacket. I followed her when she climbed a small water slide. Before that slide there was a pool, which she crossed. The water reached until her hips. The cool water entered my pants already seconds after entering the river and my shorts were already soaked. My adult body hosts a child’s mind and this place was a gigantic playground, I couldn’t hold myself back and I didn’t want to. I followed Mari and suddenly it happened. I couldn’t see the pool’s ground due to the stream. One step and I dipped into the pool and disappeared. Thanks to Archimedes and my backpack filled with lunchboxes and dry bags it felt
like somebody would grab me and pull me out. It wasn’t dangerous, but wet. Not even ten minutes after entering the river I was completely wet. The party could begin. I was one of the first ones hiking and exploring the river with its amazingly beautiful rocky faces and water slides. At a sunny place made of rocks I decided to wait until the whole group gathered again. Something I don’t like about being an organiser is that people start to treat me like a guide. Once I opened my lunchbox to feed the whining child, everybody else did the same. So, early lunch break. To be honest, I felt very cold in my wet clothes and the sun was very welcoming. Soon the rest of the group arrived and sat down and we were completed again. There were so many new and interesting people and I was very keen to talk to them. The terrain was too difficult to talk much, so I took my chance during the lunch break. I was so happy to meet Huyen, who constantly smiled happily at me and made me feel so comfortable. For sure the time was too short to talk a lot. After taking our group picture we continued the trail. I was at the very end using the chance to talk with my friend Yoshi, which I haven’t seen for a long time. I was so glad that she could manage to join this hike and we could spend some time together. We hiked for a while and suddenly we stand in front of a wall. It was a huge waterfall leading into a wonderful big, round amazing pool. From behind I could see that I wasn’t the only foolish child. The first bunch of people were already in the pool heading for the stones under the waterfall to take a very unique shower. This was a treasures place, that one which is a cover of a magazine you read in office while dreaming out to be there with no idea how this paradise like place is and knowing that you won’t be able to get there. It took only a short time and I joined the pool people taking a very unique bath. It was pure joy, even though the water was colder than I like to admit. Kids like to play and I have no idea how much time we spent there. Another question was how to continue. My map said just follow the river upstream while this place was definitely a dead end with no way to climb up that waterfall. Tomal found a small trail like way up the hill on the left side. We entered the road running next to the river shortly and climbed down into the river again. The river face changed drastically. Upon here it was silent and the river was gentle. While down at the waterfall the stream was loud and powerful, I could sit here at the edge of the waterfall with no danger to get washed down. The river seemed like a forest patched by sunlight. The rough huge rocks changed to small one and the deep pools and slides disappeared. It took a long time until everybody left the pool and climbed up. Unfortunately in this moment we lost Alex, which sandals fell in the river and disappeared within seconds downstream. He tried to find them and walked down the river hunting for the sandals. The terrain was not easy and I slightly got tired. We arrived at a junction, my map said we need to follow the river on the left, but I was curious what to find at the right. I already gave up to hold the group together. I went there together with Flo and Tanzin and it was an amazing place with three waterfalls. We could climb up next to it and arrived at an amazing hidden pool. My clothes were just dry until I jumped. But I didn’t regret. The other got curious, too and followed us. The group was spreading again. I followed the junction at the other side with some people. It lead to another huge, but artificial waterfall, where some of us took a very special photo shooting. I passed by and climbed up the shore at the left side. Again the river’s face changed drastically upon the waterfall. It was difficult to enter the river again, but the manmade dam was a safe option. The river over here was a calm and wonderful sandbank with a magical atmosphere. Half of the group were gone, some were still taking pictures while others remained somewhere else. I was sure I was the only one who downloaded the trail, but I couldn’t do anything right now. We continued and walked on the ground of a canyon which was leading into a turqoise pool. The scenery was incredibly. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was a narrow canyon with a waterslide. We had to go up. No chance. For me as a rock climber I would have been able to do it with special equipment, but it wasn’t possible for hikers. We found a small trail on the left guiding to the street again. And another one going down to the river again. In this moment we lost the group. I was just above the slide which formed the dead end with Tomal, Tanzin and another guy. The others didn’t
show up. This pool was the most amazing one. I was deeply amazed by this river and its trail. We had to climb up some washed out rocks and entered the calm river again. It was pure beauty. I was tired, but I also didn’t want to stop. We ended up in another dead end formed by an amazing waterfall and climbed up a trail at the shore. We crossed a bridge and followed the road. This was the end of the Hozankyo river trail. I sent a message to the group. The big part of them were hiking on the road upstream deeper into the Rokko mountains. We were just behind and easily caught up. Armed with their smartphones they were heading into the mountains heading for a train Station. Indeed nobody downloaded the trail. We followed the road for a few meters since my map said there would be kind of a campsite and I wanted to check it out for further events. It was a small meadow next to the river. A nice, but not amazing place. We walked back to Karatodai Station on the road which was running next to the river. It was a short walk and soon we arrived the place where we entered the river at the very beginning. Back through the residential area we arrived the Station at sunset. I was happy to finally change my wet clothes and get rid of the tons of sand I was carrying in my shoes. Together we were going to Abi’s place to have dinner at an Indian restaurant. Having cheese nan and butter chicken curry in the end of this day was heavenly. With a painfully full tummy I went home and fell into my bed. Unable to move, but happy.
August, 11 th 2019 Kawaguchiko
Houtou noodle. Surprisingly there wasn’t any rain and I woke up in sunshine again. It was my last day, tonight I would take the night bus back to Ōsaka. The initial plan to travel “Fuji five lake region” seemed more difficult than expected. Hoinestly, I had no idea how to travel. I never did it the way everybody does. I was really missing my bicycle and now learned to honor it even more. For sure there were many busses leading to tourist’s hot spots, but these spot usually catching not my attentention. So what to do? Throughing all my money into bus rides (transportation, especially bus is extremely expensive in Japan and I’m not allowed to get tourist’s discount since I’m a resident) only for travel? There were three caves in this region and I really liked to explore them. After some research I found out it is rather a touri trap, so I skipped. In the end, I decided to spent my last day doing exactly what I don’t have time for in Ōsaka. I went to a park next to the lake, in a shady place with a nice view I made a picnic and spent my day there doing some sports and other little stuff. Just enjoying life. I guess this is not what the poeple usually came for. Next time, I will definately bring my bike again, no matter where. In the afternoon I went to the city centre to try a local dish called houtou noodle. These are flatened Udon noodle. Unlike Japanese food, the size of portion was gigantic and it took my a long time to finish. But it was very delicious. At the train station I bought some nicely wrapped cookies as a souvenir for my friends and coworkers (that’s kind of an must do in Japan) until the bus arrived. When I entered the bus, there was a big surprise. This night bus was incredible. Everybody got a single seat with courtains to have privacy. The seats were big and very comfortable. They even offered slippers and a blanket. I was extremely happy about this. This night wouldn’t be a torture. Goodbye Mt. Fuji, I’m looking forward to see you again, but now I’m looking forward to be back home: Ōsaka.
August, 10 th 2019 Kawaguchiko
Yurari Onsen. The weather forecast predicted more thunderstorms, so I decided to go to a famous Onsen (natural hot spring). This one was a little bit in the countryside, but I was picked up by a shuttle bus. One of the best things in Japan are Onsen (natural hot spring) and Sento (public bath house). It is kind of a spa. Before you are allowed to enter the bath tub, you have to wash your body very carefully. After that, you dip into the often very hot water and it feels like heaven. This Onsen was very big and offered more than six different bath, also outside with view of the Fuji. I relaxed there for a few hours and enjoyed the sun while dipping in the water of the lovely Japanese garden. Since my last real shower was at home in Osaka it was more than a nice feeling to get clean again after the Fuji climb. Also my muscles appreciated the hot water and went soft again. I ate lunch in the restaurant and after finishing bath and food there was still time until the shuttle bus was scheduled. Usually Onsen have a tatami room for taking a rest. people just lay down or enjoy a message in a super high tech armchair. Deeply relaxed and clean I took a nap until the the bus took me back to Kawaguchiko. Dark clouds lured over the station and I was afraid to get showered again and hurried to the campsite I stayed before. I arrived there dry. This time the campsite were full of happy people enjoying BBQ and children playing around (no wonder it was the peak weekend due to Obon). The expected rain was missing, so I walked around the lake and got some dinner. I spent a calm evening at the campsite and really enjoyed just being there.
August, 9 th 2019 Kawaguchiko
I woke up surrounded by soft trees and felt so cozy and comfortable. The morning sun was shining, while the trees kept the place cool. After a very relaxed breakfast I got my stuff together and got ready. Ready for what? I didn’t make any specific plan. I just had the idea to climb these wonderful mountains at the other side of the lake to see Mt. Fuji from the top. Outside the forest it was hot and my backpack, full with new food and water was heavy again. I missed the bus and decided to walk the 5 km to the trailhead. I was not motivated to climb and the sun was burning. I walked slowly and soon I arrived at a small kind of park. I went through a bush to get to the shore and ended up in a hidden bay which an amazing view of the Fujisan and the lake. It was my private beach and I decided to stay and take a bath. The water was warmer than expected and didn’t cool down, but sitting in the water it was way better than burning in the sun at the shore. Unfortunately the bay didn’t offer any shadow and outside the water is was hard to stay there. I spent a long time at this place. Enjoying and relaxing. Having even lunch there. At some point I got headache, finally it was time to escape the sun. I continued walking and soon arrived at another campsite. It was a bungalow resort and I wasn’t sure if they offer space for a tent. I was not even sure if I want to stay. I was kind of lost. Anyway I entered and they had space for me. I agreed and they said the campsite is directly at the shore. A Main Street was departing the campsite from the main facilities. I already paid and the campsite was a mess. An under construction area directly next to the main road. No flat ground, rough gravel and the worst absolutely no shadow. There was no protection against the sun and I had to get out very urgent. I decided to pitch my tent without the sheet and prepared only the inner cabin. On top I dried my freshly hand washed clothes. The best was I could use a bicycle. So, on a mama chari (mommy bike) I started to cruise around the lake. I cycled until thevery end of the lake. The view was very nice, but there wasn’t any interesting at the shore, not even a better place to pitch the tent. I took a break in a lovely park, which might was a high class hotel’s garden, but nobody else was there. I saw dark clouds over the lake and got worried. I cycled back and soon big drops fell from the clouds. A thunderstorm was going to happen and my tent was lacking any protection of rain. My sleeping bag and all my stuff would be totally wet. I hurried up, the rain became stronger and stronger. Soon I was completely wet. I arrived at the campsite and put the fly sheet over my tent. Inside, there was already a pond. Great. What lesson did I learn? Yes, exactly. It was the first and last time to not fully pitch the tent and leaving. Within seconds the rain became heavy and my only chance was to hide in my tiny tent. Pouring rain. I layed there and while I saw lightnings around me followed by the loudest thunder I ever heard. My heart was bumping. The raindrops fell on the ground and splashed from underneath against the inner sheet while under the ground a little pond accumulated. Surprisingly I stayed almost dry. I love my tent. I had no chance. I had to wait. So I started eating my cookies and waited. Luckily I skipped my plan to climb into the mountains. After an hour the sky calmed down and I was able to leave my tent. I was still suspicious and didn’t leave my tent. I started preparing my dinner, while the sun slowly began to set. Suddenly the sky turned to violet and with it the Fuji as well. It was amazing and held only a few moments. Twice I regretted to stay at this campsite, but right now all doubts were gone. In this moment I was exactly at the right place. The sky turned from blue into dark and the lights from the stations on Mt. Fuji appeared like a thin light chain. I went into my tent and watched the silence of the mountain until I fell asleep.
August, 8 th 2019 Kawaguchiko
The summit. I didn’t set an alarm clock and was sure to wake up by the rustle and crackle of people preparing their gear. This was how I woke up every day on the Camino, but not in Japan. People were so silent and manage to get ready and leave without any noise in the darkness. I overslept. It 3 am. The couple next to me were worried since they noticed my condition. I felt much better and the summit was calling. I’ wondered where all the energy came from. I went out. It was completely dark. The night sky was full of stars and the villages in the valley were still sleepy. The night view was a beauty itself. My camera lacked to capture, but my mind will never forget. I squeezed a muesli bar into my tummy, just in case, and got ready to climb to summit. I could see the lights of 7.9 th Station. It wasn’t too far. Only moments later the night sky’s black broke into a deep blue. It was still dark and my headlamp showed me the path. After only a few steps I felt as exhausted as while arriving the hut. The nausea became stronger. Now, I was definitely suffering from altitude sickness. I had only one litre of water left and my snacks were almost gone. Event though it felt like something is pressing my body to the ground. In zick zack lines I headed to 7.9 th station. When I arrived, I was tired and decided to watch the sunrise from there, since the view was fantastic. I pulled out my sleeping back and layed down on the bench, waiting. The sky became brighter. Deep blue turned into light blue and a yellow stripe appeared at the horizon. But it took too long and I got cold and bored. I knew I wouldn’t be able to arrive the summit in time and one of the reasons I choose the Gotemba trail was for sure that one can see the sunrise from anytime. I decided to continue climbing and once I climbed a few meters it happened. The goraiko. It was incredible. I stopped and sat down into the dirt. I called my parents via video call (yes that works on Fuji and sometimes you even have WiFi). Together we could see how the giant red ball came up from the clouds, painted the sky into a deep orange red colour and became bright white and warm within minutes. The sun burned into my mind and I will never forget this moment. I was happy to be able to share it with my parents even though they were 10000 km and 3000 km of elevation away. Recharged with energy I continued my way to summit and it went better for a while. Mt. Fuji’s red soil, the bright blue sky and Snow White fluffy clouds beneath me created a wonderful scenery. Final sprint. The summit was close and the terrain became rough and rocky. I met the first people of descending and the trail became more crowded. Almost before summit, I could feel how hungry I was even though I still lacked appetite. My snacks were gone and I hoped for food at the summit, no matter what. I asked some of the descending climbers if breakfast is available on top and they confirmed. It kept me going. The people descending were very cute and cheering me up all the time. I placed one step after another. It was hard to keep my body going. Then, finally I saw a torii, the Buddhism entry gate. It was the gate to summit. Only a few steps. I passed it. I arrived a small plateau and at the end of I stand in front of the crater of Mt. Fuji. It was breathtaking. I could feel nature’s power. The unbelievable power which created this amazing shape and made rocks melting. But I could enjoy only for a moment. Mission food has begun. I climbed up a small path and arrived at the Fujisan Hongo Sengataisha (Shrine) with a building which looked like selling food. Inside they only offered two types of instant noodle soup and I choose the bigger one and a coke. It was heaven. This was the best instant noodle soup I ever had in my life. Generally instant soups are way better in Japan than in Europe and indeed deserve the label food. But this one was heavenly delicious and I could feel how the warm soup recharged my energy and made me feel very comfy. I went to the post office, where I met the lady who gave me the postcard. Another symptom of altitude sickness is confusion and less cognitive power. She grabbed my hand and arranged everything for me. She was very cute. I’m sure I would have been able to do it alone, since I already live in Japan for a long time, but in this moment I just enjoyed to have the beloved help of a grandma. It was still super early, so I decided the time has finally come to enjoy. I found a nice place, took out my coffee and my cookies and packed myself in my sleeping bag to take a nap in the warm sun. This was the reward and I enjoyed every moment. I decided beforehand to climb down the Yoshida trail, the most popular one, to travel the Lake Kawaguchi afterwards, so I had to walk around the crater, which I wanted to do anyway. There are some roads which are cruised only bulldozer, which brings supplies to the summit. It’s very fussy, no wonder that 500 ml of water costs 500 Yen (around 4 €). I continued and climbed up to the highest peak at 3776 m, which hosted a weather station. From here I could see directly into the crater. It was impressive. Happily I continued and walked on a small trail around the crater with fantastic views to both sides. All symptoms of sickness were gone and I was energetic and joyful. From the Yoshida trail’s side dark clouds rises up like in an imaginary chimney. They didn’t enter the crater. There is a small village like area at the Yoshida trailhead and I was kind of shocked. Suddenly I stand within a tourist spot with all sort of souvenirs and many people. What a difference only a few hundred meters away at the same crater, it seemed like being in another world. It was time to descent and I was kind of sad that the journey would be over soon. But staying another night wouldn’t be the same. The trail for ascent and descent is different. From the top I saw the climbers coming up, a long coloured queue. So many people in sick zack lines. I started descending and the trail disappeared in the deep clouds. The trail was wide, well prepared and super easy to walk. An immense different to the way I came down. I went down super quickly and overtook many people. On the trail there was one mountain hut after another. I couldn’t believe to see so many huts. The trail itself was a little bit boring, since it looked the same all the time and went down and up in small zick zack lines. I remembered that everybody told me climbing M. Fuji is only special because it is Mt. Fuji, but the trail and the landscape is boring. A dirty volcano, at least. Directly after the first meters I couldn’t understand this judgement and with every meter even less. Now, I understood. The Yoshida seemed to lack all this amazing parts. I almost flew down the trail. I took my lunch break at 7 th Station, which only offered a toilet. I cooked a noodle soup and enjoyed the last “volcanic views”. Soon I would enter the forest. When I arrived at the 6 th Station I was shocked again. From now on it was a tourist hot spot and it even got worst. Large groups and people obviously not able to climb a mountain with more than 3000 m met me. It was terrible. I felt like in a zoo. Of course I was also a tourist, but it seemed almost everybody of them forget that this is a mountain and not a zoo or catwalk. I was so happy about my – more or less coincidentally – choice. The experience to climb this trail in a queue with all this people would have been a totally different one. I’m sure this trail will be super convenient and is made for almost everyone who has the will to climb a volcanic staircase of 1400 m. I dare to say these trails were like two different mountains. On the Gotemba trail I only met people which looked like rather experienced climbers, there were no tourist (hot pants, sneaker, selfie stick) and I even was the only foreigner. If you are a bit experiment I defiantly recommend not to choose the Yoshida trail, but if you are not familiar with hiking or any outdoor activity the Yoshida trail is a great opportunity to climb on a 3776 m high mountain and probably and amazing experience. Anyway I can recommend to choose different trails for ascent and descent. At the 5 th Station I felt very uncomfortable within all the crowd. I was smelling and dirty and just wanted to escape this place. I jumped into the next bus heading to Kawaguchiko (Lake Kawaguchi). At the Station I decided to walk the few kilometres to the lake’s shore where I found a campsite. I promptly run into a narrow trail through neighbour’s meadow. I don’t know why I always end up on this path. Anyway I arrived at the lake and found the campsite, which was located directly in a shore. The owner was very kind and welcomed me. The campsite was simple, but very nice. It was a small soft wood forest. The ground was plane and soft, while the trees created a comfy climate of shadow. I pitched my tent, took a shower and went to the next supermarket to buy some food and dinner. On the way back I realised how tired my legs were and my muscled started burning. I looked forward to lay down on the soft ground in my tent. It was quiet on the campsite and only a few other people chose to spend the night here as well. I ate my dinner and played down. Before I could enjoy to be in my tent I fell into a deep sleep. It was before 8 pm…
August, 7 th 2019 Fujisan
I left the bus around 6 am in the morning at Fuji Station and I was wondering that I was the only passenger who got off. The night bus to Gotemba was fully booked and this one went to the other trails. The morning heat hit me hard and sleepy and with aching bones in my back I took the train to Gotemba Station. One hour later I arrived and used my spare time to get some refreshment in a public bathroom. Finally I sat in the local bus to the trailhead together with three other climbers. I expected way more climbers since it was high season and was a little bit worried that I missed something. Slowly the bus tootle up the mountain’s street. At the trailhead I got off. Standing there. In front of me the impressive face of Fujisan. Awfully I looked at it. The sun was burning. My The heat was burning and my backpack containing all my camping gear (for further travelling the Fuji five lake region) and 4 litre of water was painful. I felt lost and tired. My motivation to start climbing was pretty low. But soon
I found myself on the trail, still not realising what the next hours will bring to me. The impressive face of Mt. Fuji in front of me. It was breathtaking. I couldn’t believe to climb this sacred mountain. The trail itself consisted of loose volcanic rocks, so walking on it was very difficult an energy consumpting. Immediately sweat drops fell on the ground with every step. I couldn’t imagine how to fill in new water into my body as quickly as I lost it. The mountain hut at the trailhead said it would be four hours to the 6 th Station, so I set my lunch break point in my head. There were some occasional climbers around me, but I was the very last. Was I that late? I already learned that Japanese people are usually early birds, but was I really that late? I calmed myself down by the fact that I had enough water and food and all the equipment to sleep somewhere on the trail in emergency. Also I had a reservation
at a mountain hut at 7.5 th Station (3100 m) and no pressure to arrive there by a certain time. My headlamp would also allow me to climb in darkness. So, step by step I climbed up the volcano enjoying the fascinating landscape around me. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I tried to find the mountain hut with my eyes, but no chance to see the summit. The sun burnt without any mercy and passing clouds giving some shade were already gone when I arrived their place. I only had a tiny breakfast, but wasn’t hungry at all. That’s not a good sign. I ate an awful muesli bar and continued. More and more people showed up behind me, all suffering like me. The small talks and greetings from the beginning turned just into tired smiles to each other when passing by. The terrain got harder and the the light loose stones created a unique sound while walking. It sounded like walking into fresh fallen snow, but louder. I liked this sound. Unfortunately I lost a few centimetres of every tiny step I did while slipping down on the loose steep rocks. It was exhausting. I regretted to not bring a hat and was annoyed by my own stupidity. I started at 1400 m to climb and when I arrived at 2000 m the temperature slowly dropped and it felt like somebody turned on the air condition. I stopped sweating and felt more comfortable, but also got more and more exhausted with every step. From now I entered the hight of the passing clouds who brought a could foggy breeze each time. I liked that. It was incredibly how fast they flew by. The trail went around a corner and a long traverse guided the climbers into a different and even more steep terrain. I observed a hut over there and asked some construction workers if this was the 6 th station. They confirmed. It looked very close and I planed to take my lunch break over there. How wrong I was. In zick zack the trail went up very steep and every step was painful. I was deeply exhausted, but a very natural problem kept me ongoing. I needed a bathroom very urgently. I kept drinking continuously and after stopping sweating all the water had to find a way out. Another problem occurred: headache. It was increasing. Since I sat in the bus to the trailhead I didn’t check time anymore. This was about me and the mountain and time was irrelevant. I have no idea how long it took to get to the hut, but it felt like hours. When I arrived there, it was closed. I wasn’t surprised since a sign 10 meters before told me already. I wondered about that sign and the sign at the 5 th station. My imagination was that there would be at least a bench or toilet. But nothing. I didn’t care and placed my body into the dirt. I wore shorts and my legs were covered by brown-reddish dust. So my clothes as well from now. I was alone and observed while the next climbers fought their way. I still wasn’t hungry, but I knew I have to eat. So I ate my well prepared nigiri and maki roll and a Nutella sandwich. My tummy was full. It was cool up here, but the sun was shining warmly. The view into the valley was breathtaking. I made myself comfortable and took a long deep nap. I could feel many other climbers passing by. I slept for a long time, maybe one hour or even more. When it comes to nap I know no compromises. After the nap I made a coffee to get rid of the drowsiness. I felt much better and also my headache was a little bit better. With a slightly feeling of nausea I continued. The terrain changed slightly again and big rocks of cooled lava appeared here and there. I began to feel hot and cold at the same time. Every single step was exhausting. I talked to guy, who was faster than his group and we climbed a bit together. I took some small breaks, but getting started again was hard each time. I could see the next huts and was happy to be able to see today’s goal. It was still far away, but at least I could see small progress. I arrived the sign of 3000 m elevation. I was deeply exhausted. It meant 100 m altitude of climbing left. Final sprint. I could see how I placed each step in slow motion. My brain was empty. I arrived my physical limit. I passed the first hut at 7.4 th Station. My one was at 7.5 th station only few meters further. I didn’t stop and with the last power I climbed the rocky stairs to the hut. I was so happy when I arrived. Just to be there and to stop climbing for today. The hut was very cute and the view breathtaking. Happiness shot through my body and I immediately loved that place. It brought me enough energy to easily walk around and to check in. Kento, one of the stuff, greeted me warmly and we liked each other immediately. He told me that he lived in Australia and only came back to renew his driving licence and worked during summer at this hut. The hut was as simply as cozy and in common Japanese manner built to host as much people as possible on a small space. I loved it and enjoyed the feeling of arrival. It kind of felt like on the camino. There was no tasks, just being there, live the moment until the journey continues. I talked a lot with Kento and other climbers. I wondered that I was one of the very first ones in the end. Little by little climbers arrived at the hut, all of them smiling brightly. Their happiness were infectious and created a bondeage between all the climbers immediately. It felt like being at home and I enjoyed just sitting in front of the house and viewing into the valley. I must have arrived around 4 pm. It was still bright outside. At 5 pm, Kento asked me to try the Curry rice and to have dinner. Two giant pots of rice and curry were in the middle of the hut and everybody could sever theirselves. I ate outside on the railing bench. An unforgettable dinner. While eating I realised how hungry I was and luckily one were allowed to as much as one liked. The full tummy brought fully satisfaction. I thought this is the perfect evening until the sun was setting. Suddenly shouts of wows. During the sunset a special light condition appeared where the sun forms a triangle shaped shadow of the Fuji in the sky, surrounded by colourful rainbow-like light stripes (I forgot the Japanese term for this special event). It was amazing and we were very lucky to have observed it. Another point I was very happy about it was the toilet, even at 3100 m there were earth toilets with heated toilet seats. The fee was 300 Y, but for climbers staying overnight it was included, which was saving my budget. The sunset was a highlight and end ended up in a compilation of colors. Everybody is talking about Mt. Fuji’s sunrise, and I couldn’t imagine how it should be more fantastic than this sunset. The sky turns from dark blue into almost black and the city’s lights were shining through the clouds. It got colder and the tired climbers disappeared one by one into the hut. In a cozy atmosphere they were talking and organising their feet and stuff. A lady gave me a postcard to send it to my family from the post office at the summit. How nice. Kento calculated the time I would need to climb to summit. I called him before I started climbing from 5 th Station, so he knew my pace and recommended me to start at 2 am to arrive at the summit to see the goraiko (sunrise). He showed me some time lapse videos he made at summit and today’s sunrise from the mountain hut and shared it with me. I did some smalltalk until I climbed into to my bed. I was so exhausted. My head was aching and my body felt hot and dry. It got worse. All the time I was wondering if this was the symptoms of strong exhaustion or already altitude sickness. Well, I tend to get this kind of symptoms after long journey and lack of sleep, but Nassau was unusual. Kento was sure it was altitude sickness and gave me some pain killers. Altitude sickness usually occurs from 2500 m on and extremely depends on the condition. It is recommended not to climb more than 625 m of elevation a day. Since I had a sleepless and stressful night, almost no food and climbed 1600 m in a few hours up to 3100 m I might agree. I climbed into my bed and hoped sleep would help again. At 8 pm the light switched off and the climbers fell asleep.
August, 6 th 2019 Ōsaka
Night bus ride. Unexpectedly, my company granted me three days of special summer vacation. I connected them with Obon national holiday (special festival to honor the ancestors and travel back to your family’s /origin’s place) to let one of my biggest Japan dreams come true: Climbing Mt. Fuji. With its 3776 m, Fujisan is not only Japan‘s highest mountain it is also the country’s symbol and a national pride. No wonder, that it is very important for Japanese people to climb it at least once in a lifetime. The climbing season is only around for two months during summer (July to September), so the window is very tight and the crowd is accordingly big. Even tough I got a lot of experience in climbing mountains especially in Japan, this would be my highest peak so far. There are four different trails leading to the volcano’s summit, Fujinomiya, Gotemba, Subashiri and Yoshida trail, each with different properties. The most popular one is the Yoshida trail. I decided to avoid the crowd and choose the Gotemba trail, the least frequented and the longest one with the most meters of ascent to climb. I booked an overnight bus and started into my adventure directly after work. Long journeys in a bus are torture and somehow the bus and airplane are the only places I cannot fall asleep properly. The bus ride wasn’t too bad even though I really didn’t understand why the driver made loudly announcements in the middle of the night just to inform the sleeping passengers that he has to take his official rest time. Anyway, the ride wasn’t too bad and I could get some sleep in the end.
August, 4 th Ōsaka
The Takedao Abandoned Railway trail. This trail is one of the most popular ones around Ōsaka and was the very first one I organised after settling down last December (click here to read more). Since we hiked this trail in early winter I always kept it in mind to come back during a different season. It’s still within my favourite area: the Takarazuka mountains. I still had to plan and organise my upcoming vacation and therefore a huge lack of time, so this was the perfect time to go for this trail again. It’s rather a lovely sunday’s walk than a hike and I expected to an early endeing of the event. Read more about today’s hike by clicking the link.
August, 3 rd Ōsaka
Kobe hanabi. Summer is the season of festivals and fireworks in Japan. Most of them are buddhist origin. It’s compareable with german “Kirmes” (like Oktoberfest), but without rollercoasters. My friend Juzer invited me to see the fireworks with him and some other people in the Merika park in Kobe. After experincing Tenjim Matsuri festival and increasing temperature in Ōsaka I decided to avoid the even more expected crowd and sun and cancelled last minute. Like every saturday Kazuhide and my climbing group went for outdoor climbing in the mountains and I decided to join this time. Kazuhide picked me up by car at the Station and together we drove into the Rokko mountains close to Kobe. I know this area very well, it is one of my favourite hiking region, but I never went there for mountain climbing. The plan was to watch the Kobe hanabi from the climbing spot afterwards. The climbing spot was amazing. We were in the top of mountains and the view while climbing was breathtaking. It was a mixture of sport climbing and multi pitch routes. The perfect terrain for beginners in alpine climbing and to practice those skills. Usually I prefer indoor climbing, but I deeply fell in love with this spot and I’m already looking forward to climb there agaian. Brian was already there and together we started climbing. There were some gaps in the preparation of the routes, so we had to set “friends” (mobile bolts). It was the first time since our adventure in the austrian alps that I had to use them. Time was flying and with the sunset we climbed up to our viwpoint at the top. Only one more rope team had the same idea and already prepared their picnic. We made ourselves comfortable and enjoyed our dinner while watching the firework above Kobe and the Ocean. It was one of my best experiences so far and I enjoyed every single moment. To be with friends, in the mountains, sitting in my climbing harness, feeling the warm summer’s breeze and living in Japan.
July, 28 th 2019 Ōsaka
Mt. Kongō again. We already climbed Mt. Kongō this winter and coincidentally ended up on an adventurous trail, which is only known by some locals. From the very beginning I was that amazed by the trail that I decided to come back in summer some day. By now it’s summer and the time to keep my promise has come. Japan is unbelievable green in summer due to the lot of rain and sun and I was keen to see how the winter wonderland turned into a green paradise. I expected many people joining, since in winter it was the event with the highest number of participants. The more I wondered that hardly anybody singned up. The people who signed up, where not coming without any notice (travellers), so together with the usual people I started in this week’s adventure. I enjoyed that we were just a small group of friends since last time we were so many people and it was hard work for me to manage the group especially because some people might misunderstood that I’m not a guide. We met at Shin-Imamiya Station, the area where I used to live before I moved last month. I was happy to be around again. One after one joined at the meeting point and soon the group of four of us were complete. Last time there was a long queue at the counter for purchasing the Nankai Kongōsan Special discount ticket (1590 Y) and we almost missed the train. This time it was really relaxed. We immediately started talking a lot and as always we almost missed the station to drop off and as always Sayaka saved us in the last second. At Kawachinagano we expected Flo to join us, who announced that he might be late and going to rush to the bus. Together we lost the feeling of time and got it back while coincidentally watching how Flo was missing the bus we all were supposed to take. Anyway we were altogether and just waited for the next one on this wonderful sunny day. Once in the bus we enjoyed the ride into the mountains while chatting. We were almost alone in that bus and I wondered a lot. In winter the same bus was full of hikers and we had trouble to squeeze in. Since three of us knew the trail, it was a super relaxing atmosphere for me and I think the first time I didn’t have to tell my story on the hike. The trailhead is hidden and after the entrance was small forest road, which was overgrown now in summer. The trail became clear soon. We passed the waterfall and the first adventurous climbing passages. We climbed up a waterfall and missed the trail for a moment. The way we choose guided us steep into the mountains into a dead end and climbing down scared me a lot. It was the first time this summer that wearing my sandals was risky and I changed to shoes after cleaning in the river all the dirt I collected
at the short, but hard descent. The water was crystal clear and cold. The perfect refreshment in a hot summer’s day. We continued on a small forest path and enjoyed the scenery along the river. The trail became very narrow and the river next to it a canyon. This part was rather bouldering than hiking, but luckily it was supported by some ropes. Last time a girl struggled here and almost fell into the canyon. So, I was even more happy to have no tourist around me this time. The next part of the trail was in a bad condition, the trail was narrow, the soil was super soft due to the rain in the last days and on one side the steep canyon while the trail itself was overgrown by ground plants and hiding itself and venomous snakes. No questions it was challenging. At the end of this part we entered the forest again and made our lunch break at a glade next to the river. Even though it was nearly peak of summer season the was as cold as I couldn’t soak my feet in for more than five minutes. We enjoyed the lunch break and the opportunity to escaped the cities’s heat and being at this refreshing place instead. We continued and soon we left the forest trail to climb into the growing riverbed. Hiking in the riverbed some climbing, but was amazing beautiful. The charming river changed from a frozen field of ice crystals in winter to a sparkling and joyful personality in summer. We entered a huge slope, which might was caused by a landslides years ago and the the roof of trees opened. Immediately we could feel the powerful sun enlighten us and heating up our skin. We left the river’s slope and entered the shady forest again. We climbed a smaller riverbed, which was more steep and the sweat run out. The very last part was a mixture of hiking and climbing and demanded
our last energy until we merged into the last stairs of the tourist’s path. We arrived at summit and I wondered again. In winter this was a crowded winter wonderland while now in summer only a few hikers enjoyed the feeling of finishing that climb. We walked to the summit’s viewpoint and took a break there. We enjoyed being there a lot and did a lot of nonsense. Here at 1125 m we were literally in the clouds and the amazing
view into the valley I was hunting for was hidden. Only clouds as far as the eye could see. We spent a lot of time at the summit and since I didn’t set the trail back beforehand, I spontaneously chose one along another river. At this point I have to say that I have a special talent to pick the most adventurous trail even among tourist’s trails and even though I’m not searching for it. The trail was on the official map, so I thought it will be easy (the same as last time when I created the winter’s ascent online).
How wrong I was. We started descending on a well established trail, but took a diversion which guided us to a very old abandoned graveyard within the mountain’s forest. A mystical place. A small trail was hidden in the bushes and of course it was the one I chose ten minutes ago. We had to climb down steep steps of roots and loose soil and within the deep trees it was super dark. The clouds around us turned dark and not too far away we heard the thunder rumble. We entered a riverbed, which was narrow and surrounded by steep mountains and high and deep trees. I started to regret my decision, but as always within a few minutes we climbed down too much to turn around. I hoped this wouldn’t be a dead end and we wouldn’t have to go cross country in the end. Something which could turn out extremely dangerous at this time. I found single footprints in the sands of the riverbed. They must be fresh from today and were both directions. Also some supporting ropes were installed. At least this was a trail indeed at some time. I let my worries fly away and slowly started enjoying. I like imperfect conditions and I love rain and “bad” weather. It was dark and the thunder was grumbling. It was far away and no need to worry. The sun was also far away and the temperature enjoyable. Somehow I felt as safe and as relaxed as while lying in my tent. I felt deeply comfortable. The terrain was challenging and it took a lot of energy to set every single step properly. At some point I didn’t care anymore about dry feet and steps into the ankle deep water. After some disgusting moments I enjoyed the refreshment at my feet and felt like a tree soaking the refreshment from my toes to feet to my brain and mind. Halfway the trail merged with other ones (which went up), which relieved me. It became more and more a clear and tidy hiking trail and soon we left the riverbed and hiked on a small forest trail next to it. The terrain remained ambitious, but amazing at the same time. The river became a steep slide with breathtaking waterfalls and the trail more and more a treasure. We hit the riverbed several more times and I enjoyed soaking my feet like a child in a puddle. Finally this was an official trail and we even met two other hikers. Good for us, since now it was impossible to turn around. The river became very calm at the end, but showed us its amazingly beautiful face until the very end. For me it felt like entering another world. A magical one. We ended up on a small street which was leading us back to the bus station. On the way there was an atelier where an elderly Japanese man created and sold colourful hand made outdoor equipment. It was amazing and I totally recommend to go there and visit him. You’ll definitely find something useful and unique gear made by a very lovely local craftsman. The bus station was close and we took the very last bus. I have no idea why it took so much time in the end, but it was worth every step on this treasurous trail.
July, 25 th 2019 Ōsaka
Tenjin Matsuri. The Tenjin Festival (天神祭) is ranked as one of Japan’s top three festivals. It is the festival of the Tenmangu Shrine and honors its principle deity Sugawara Michizane, the deity of scholarship. The festival begins by ceremonially inviting the deity out of the shrine and parading him through the city, carrying out various exuberant festivities to entertain him, before taking him back to the shrine. River and land processions are held with fireworks. I didn’t know anything about this or general about festivals in Japan. Luckily Juzer reminded me several times, so we today after work we met at one of the city centres to enjoy the festival. I went there with one of my coworkers and at work many people were talking about it. In Temma, we separated and I met up with Juzer. I was already warned that it would be horribly crowded, but while meeting up it was still ok. In the warm red of sunset we walked along the river to the main point of attraction. We walked with the swarm, to the left and right were a lot of street food, but it wasn’t more crowded than on Cranger Kirmes, a festival, near my home town (which also takes places right now). We were almost at the viewpoint for the firework when we heard the noise of starting fireworks. We run through the crowd to a huge bridge. The view was amazing! The impressive firework was held on both sides, under us the river and in the background the castle of Ōsaka. It was one of these special moments when I realise how much I love this this city. In Japan everything is organising, a typical German attribute, but the truth is they fail horribly especially in handling crowds. But not the Japanese. The bridge was closed for cars and the crowd was moving. Every two steps there was a policemen at the bridge’s railing shouting ask you to keep moving while shouting in a megaphone. It was impossible to stop. For sure the bridge was one of the best viewpoints. Soon we passed the bridge and people were gathering. It was hot and humid and super uncomfortable within this packed crowed. To enter the bridge again from the other side it was a huge detour and impossible to take a shortcut. Policemen prevented it as well. Luckily the firework took more than one hour, so we arrived at the bridge again. It wasn’t that crowded anymore and we found a small place to sit down on the warm asphalt and watch the firework over the river. After the firework I wanted to go back on the other side to see the castle again and run next to a policemen to shorten the detour. Some other people did as well. Juzer was just not fast enough and asked to follow me. Of course he wasn’t allowed and the policemen were following him in a playful manner since it was obvious that he would follow me soon. He did it successfully and we enjoyed the amazing view again until we went down to the river shore to enjoy some street food. The river was full of boots with many lanterns. We enjoyed the event a lot and walked around for a long time. When I went back home, the crowds were already gone and I had no problems to enter the train back home.
July, 21 st 2019 Ōsaka
Hiking Arechiyama. I was very excited about today’s trail. When we climbed Mt. Rokko last winter we passed a passage of rough bright yellow rocks and it was rather rock climbing than hiking. The view we had of Kobe, Ōsaka and the Ocean was breathtaking. This part was Mt. Rokko’s Rock Garden and my expectations were high. By now, we already hiked a lot of different areas all around Ōsaka and the this is with no doubt one of my favourite area. The trail was as adventurous as announced and rather rock climbing than hiking. But the views were breathtaking. Read more about this fantastic trail and this week’s adventure by clicking the link.
July, 15 th 2019 Ōsaka
Marine day. This special national holiday is made to honor the Ocean. I woke up very early and when I opened my tent‘s zipper I couldn’t breath for a moment. I kind of forgot at which fantastic place I fell asleep yesterday and now the view was even more breathtaking. The blue Ocean was calm and the still rising sun colored the sky in colors I’ve never seen before. I sat there. In front of my tent, on the green soft grass on a cliff and staring the Ocean. The colors were surreal. It seemed there were Instagram filtered. The soft grass next to me was unbelieveable green. The sky was violet and fell in the Ocean‘s deep blue. Silence. It was magic. My fellows were awake and enjoying this scenery as well. There was an atmosphere of deeply happiness among us and we all were connected by it. No words. No language. It was one of the beautiful places I ever woke up. I stared at the Ocean for a while until I began to prepare and enjoy my breakfast. I soaked this scenery into my soul while slowly waking up. We our stuff and loaded the car and leaving this place felt so wrong. Today’s final destination would be Osaka and it was off my ability to imagine to be back in the busy city by night. We all shared the same emotions and imagined to escape. We just grow a little family. But there were still some hours left together and we continued on the curvy ocean‘s road. Maybe it was a little bit too curved, since we had to stop abruptly and one of us lost their breakfast. From this point of view it was good that we soon followed the highway. We were fast, the sun was shining and it was pure fun to be on the road. The highway went through the mountains and offered us an amazing view while our Dj supported this atmosphere even more. We were heading Matsuyama, to take a bath at famous Gobo Onsen. This very old and traditional Onsen was Hayao Miyazaki‘s inspiration for its movie „spirited away“, one of the most famous anime world
wide. We arrived in Matsuyama were soon and the sun was shining with all its power.
Even though the old Onsen‘s building was under construction it was an impressive building. Unfortunately some of the bath rooms were closed, but atmosphere was nice and very traditional. Dipping in the hot water after a few days on the road with no proper shower felt like heaven and I left the bathhouse feeling like a newborn. We walked a bit through the city, enjoyed the sunshine and bought some souvenirs for friends and coworkers (in Japan you always bring something even from a weekend trip, usually it‘s some local snack, which is offered everywhere). After the bath we were pretty hungry and decided to avoid the tourist‘s restaurants and headed to a Nepalese one. Mausam, who is from Nepal gave us some extra informations and we enjoyed the food and being altogether for the last time a lot. With superfull bellies we went back in the car and started our way back to Osaka. We had to drop off the rental car at 8 pm and there wasn’t that much buffer time. Back on Honshu, around Hyogo, we got stuck in traffic and no car was moving anymore. Even as a passenger it was super stressful and we just wanted to finally arrive at Osaka. It was already dark when we arrived at Juzer‘s home and there was only a few minutes to unload the car and say goodbye, since the car must have been dropped off. We forgot to refill the gas and now we were fighting for every minute. In Japan you have to be in time. No buffer zone. In the very last minute, literally, Juzer and Mausam successfully managed to drop off the car in time! Good job! On the way back home I felt happy, tired and empty at the same time. I was thankful that I could have spent such an amazing time with such wonderful people and colorful souls. Can’t wait to start into next adventure with you, my friends!
July, 14 th 2019 Komo Cape (Ainan)
In the clouds. I woke up by Marwa’s and Moona’s giggling. I’m very impressed how people can be that energetic in the early morning while. When I opened my eyes, Marwa boiled water and made a coffee for me. So cute, I cannot remember when somebody served me a coffee in the morning the last time. After my lovely coffee and a hot shower I felt like newborn. We had a relaxing breakfast altogether before we packed our stuff and squeezed everything once again into the car. We made a short break at the viewpoint at the nearby park we checked out for a camping spot last night and enjoyed the amazing view of the Ocean and the surrounding park. I was a little bit disappointed that we couldn’t have slept there, if I was ever there again, I definitely would pitch my tent there (if there isn’t a thunderstorm). Today the rain was way less and we decided to have a look at Shimanto river. This river is famous for is unbelievable and breathtaking deep blue color. I remember when I stayed at Yumi’s place in Yokohama who recommended that place to me. Coincidentally we parked at the place where the free campsite was supposed to be. There wasn’t anything, not even a public toilet, which are literally everywhere in Japan. I wonder who listened this place as a campsite in google… Unfortunately the river lead much water due to rainy season and was very turbulent. No sight of its amazing color. Anyway, the place was nice, so we randomly run around, played frisbee and reduced our snack supplies. A bunch of playful kids. Back on the road we enjoyed our little party car with and DJ Awesome Mausam and gave his best again. Like yesterday we followed a road along the river and stopped several times to make nonsense and enjoy our time together. Today’s final destination was Cape Komo, one of the most western point of Shikoku. It was a way shorter journey, so we had more time to enjoy the places on the way. Just before the cape we visited a viewpoint with a tower. We could see the Ocean and explored the park around. It was a very peaceful place. There was a small animal shelter with chickens we could enter. Inside we behaved like people who have never seen chicken before and enjoyed petting and feeding them a lot. It was already lunchtime, so we went back to the village we passed before. It was hard to find an open restaurant, but finally we sat in a Chinese restaurant. Tired and with fully bellies we left the restaurant and filled up our supplies in the supermarket next door. Even though all of us was full of lunch, there was still space in the ice cream stomach, which we filled up successfully. The road to the cape was very beautiful, we were quite high or better said the clouds were hanging in the mountains where the road passed through. We stopped in the last small fisherman’s village. The Ocean was incredibly blue and clear. After leaving the village the road went wilder. For sure, not many cars are passing by. The curves were tight and it was fun to drive along. To the left the deep green mountains, to the right the deep blue Ocean. Suddenly the car stopped. An eagle stand in the middle of the road. Not moving. It was an impressing animal and after a while it allowed us to pass and flow away, kind of leading us the way. We arrived at today’s camping spot and it was amazing. We parked the car and started exploring the area. Public toilets in Japan are amazing and this was one of the best examples. We walked around a corner and started screaming. There was it. The perfect campsite. A huge shelter on top of a cliff, surround by a soft deep green meadow. The shelter was big enough to pitch all our tents beneath if it would start rain again. But right now it was dry, just the dark grey clouds passing by and hanging in the mountains around us. A small path was leading down to the cliff. This was one of the most breathtaking places I have ever seen in my life and I was grateful to spend a night here. After exploring we unloaded the car and pitched our tents in that amazing scenery. We enjoyed just being there and everybody had the opportunity to relax. In the evening we had dinner on our huge blanket altogether while watching the sunset. We sat on the bench next to the Ocean and just talked for a long time until the moon was mirroring in the calm Ocean’s surface. I was so happy to lay in my tent this evening. The soft grass below me, the Ocean in my ears and the moon in the last blink of my eyes before I fell asleep.
July, 13 th 2019 Shimanto
Rivers, rain and roads. I woke up by Abi’s and Juzer’s chatting, who woke up early to watch the sunrise. Very early. For me as not morning person unbelievable. Around six o’clock they woke me up and when I crawled tiredly out of my tent everybody was already awake, refreshed and fully of energy. Marwa smiled at me. I couldn’t say much and started boiling water for a coffee while slowly packing my stuff. After a while I was fully awake and together we squeezed our stuff back into the car. At the coast we had breakfast altogether and soon we were back on the road. At a nearby viewpoint on top of the cliffs we made a break to use the washroom and enjoyed the amazing view of the bay we spent the night before. Today’s first destination was the Nikofuchi (にこ淵) waterfall in the mountains above Inu. We followed a road next to Niyodo river in the mountains. The deep green mountains the unbelievable turqouise water was an amazingly breathtaking scenery. The road was rather small and curvy and suddenly it began to rain. We stopped several times to stretch our folded legs and enjoy the river view. Deep in the mountains we drove down close to the river shore. The shore was inaccessible, but
a local opened a gate to his properties to guide us to the shore. We climbed on the rocky shore and soon we all stand barefoot in the crystal clear water surrounded by the mountains while the sky lost some heavy drops. It was a peaceful place. We spent some random time. Juzer and Abi started a small photo shooting while Mausam, Noha and me watched this funny scenery. Time seemed to be standing still at this place. After a while we climbed up the shore back to the car refreshed by the awesome nature. We followed the Niyodogawa (Niyodo river) which delighted us with its beautiful scenery even in the pouring rain. I love rainy days and the sound of raindrops fallen on the roof. In the back of the car I couldn’t hear them. Our DJ Awesome Mausam entertained us with a bunch of great music from Arab and Indian music to early 90’s pop. Abi even managed to dance somehow in the front. In a small village close to Kochi we stopped at a restaurant for lunch. We also filled up our supplies in a local store. This little stores selling vegetables are common in Japan’s countryside. They offer fresh and local vegetables which are super cheap and tasty. We both tons of tomatoes, cucumber and other vegetables. Back in the car we continued our way to the waterfall and the rain went heavier, which didn’t affect our mood. The parking lot at the parking lot was quite empty. No wonder, there not that many who wants to visit a waterfall in the pouring rain. It was hard to organise ourselves, since we wanted to swim in the waterfall’s pool and it was difficult to find and change clothes in the overloaded car. I didn’t brought any swimming clothes, but luckily Maussam borrowed his sports trousers. After a felt eternity we walked down to the waterfall on a muddy and slippery mountain path. Somehow we managed to bring only one umbrella for seven people on a journey during rainy season in one of the most rainy regions of Japan. Smart. But we used our sleeping mattresses instead and it worked out very well while looking extremely funny and made us laugh a lot. The waterfall was super nice and I’m sure on a sunny day it must be breathtaking. Breathtaking on the this day was just the water’s temperature. Bravely, Juzer, Abi and me entered the waterfall’s pool. Since the flow in the pool was very strong leading to the drain we hold hands and entered the pool together. We had a lot of fun. I tried to swim a little bit closer to the waterfall itself, but due to the heavy rain in the last days the flow and power of falling water was too strong and it was too dangerous to try seriously. We enjoyed our bath in the pool and it was more than refreshing. After a while my body temperature sank and I was shaking. The rain got heavier and the girls where leaving to the car, while Juzer, Abi and me took some pictures. Everything was wet, when we climbed up the path and arrived at the car. The atmosphere in the car was horribly and changing clothes was difficult. Juzer and Abi used the open trunk’s door as a shelter while I changed at the bag seat. Back in the car we became slowly warm again and since the car was moving the wet atmosphere got better as well. At the next Konbini we stopped for a hot drink and some snacks. It was still pouring rain, but we became professional to load and unload all seven of us in the car within seconds. The sun was setting and it was still a long way to today’s final destination: a free campground next to famous Shimanto river. It didn’t stop pouring rain and soon Juzer had to drive through the darkness. He drove almost the whole day and had to carry a heavy load. Shimanto river was huge and in totally darkness we tried to find the campsite. We drove on a small road on the damm. Somewhere in the meadows next to the river must be the campsite. Pouring rain. Juzer slowly drove down to the shore. Darkness. Next to us a large meadow. Nothing. No campsite. Puddles went bigger. Suddenly the car stopped. Juzer opened the door and water almost entered the car. No we were in a serious situation. Silence. Slowly Juzer drove the car backwards on the the narrow street in completely darkness. The way back was painfully long. In a corner he managed to turn the car around and to drove us out safely off the situation. But, where should we go now? Even though we maybe could park the car somewhere, we couldn’t sleep on a flooded meadow next to a bigger growing river. Thanks to the modern century we found a campsite and park next to the Ocean. Since Japan’s cost consists mostly of cliffs at least we would be safe of water coming from the ground. We checked out the viewpoint which was a circle of parking space with a toilet. No shelter. In an emergency ok, but since we were mobile and it wasn’t that late we had the chance to find something more suitable. The public park on the cliff at the cost was a huge area and we found a large public toilet. Nobody was around. There was a meadow surrounded by small trees. Under other circumstances a great place to pitch the tents. The rain calmed down and we took a look around. We climbed a hill and on top were some square meters to pitch our tents. We had a 360° view of the Ocean and the park. An amazing place, but in the clouds over the Oceans were flashes lighting up. This place would be as beautiful as dangerous during the this night. And we had another problem: two of our tents were not waterproof. We discussed to sleep in the toilet, when a police car came. We run back to the abandoned car, but when we arrived they were gone. Would they came back again and check out the location? What if we camped around or even sleep at the toilet’s shelter? I only have good experience with the police and sleeping at public places, but this time we were a huge group and had a car. It might be hard for the police to understand the way we acted. I found another public toilet and parking space at the Ocean directly next to the beach. I navigated Juzer there, but in the darkness we weren’t able to find it. The car stopped and we discussed what to do next. It was humid and hot in the car and we all were exhausted. A hotel or guesthouse? For seven people at a long weekend very difficult. We decided to check out the official campsite, which looked very fancy. And indeed it was. The reception was already closed, so we just entered with the car. There wasn’t any shelter and the place was too fancy to sleep in the wash house. We were about to leave when we saw a stuff’s person closing the gate. Our chance to might find a dry place for tonight. He offered us a hut with four beds for a discount price and after a short discussion we agreed. We entered the lovely wooden hut and it was amazing. All of us were happy to be at a dry place with lots of space for all of us and our stuff. We even had a balcony. It felt a little bit like a class’s trip in school. We loaded all our food in the middle of the ground, started eating and did playfully random stuff. This event was a very special one, at midnight it would be Abi’s birthday, so we kind of locked him out pretending we need some girl’s privacy to prepare a little surprise for him. We had a cake, some candles and decoration. Just before midnight we sent him to the bathroom and switched the lights off. He came back too earlier, so we adjusted the time a little bit and surprised him while entering. He looked so happy and our surprise was successful. So, we turned the music on and danced and celebrated together. Our poor neighbours. After sharing the birthday cake and more dancing we decided to play Uno. This game is supposed to fuel emotions, but we had a lot of fun and enjoyed it. After two rounds it was time to sleep. It was a long the and the next day full of adventures was already awaiting us.
July, 12 th 2019 Tonomui bay (Yamagawachi)
Road trip. This weekend’s original plan was to go on a hiking trip at Kumano Kōdō since there was an extra day off due to a national holiday. Unfortunately many people I had in mind to join couldn’t make it, soI skipped this trip and decided to go to Tottori on my own instead. Yesterday, Juzer invited me to join a road trip across Shikoku together with five other people. Seven people in one car sounded like a crazy trip with lots of fun, so I was in last minute. There wasn’t any time to think about it and to create any expectations. On Friday I rushed home after work, packed my stuff, took a shower and soon I sat in the train heading to the city centre with a backpack full of excitement. It was already dark when I arrived the meeting point. Three girls and a lot of stuff stood next to a car and smiled at me. Before we got a proper chance to get to know each other properly we squeezed all the camping stuff into the car with its tiny trunk. Everybody sat or held a piece of luggage on their lab, but nobody did care. Once we were on the street the car was full of excitement. Juzer, our this weekend’s driver, started the music and Marwa and Moona started entertaining the whole car’s crew with their delighting happiness and singing. Soon we left Ōsaka and passed Kobe, the lights of the city in front of darkness of the mountains behind were a very beautiful scenery. We passed the Akashi bridge, which connects the main Island of Honshu with Awaji Island located in the Bay of Ōsaka. I saw this bridge several times during my bicycle trips and it is quite impressive. Unfortunately it’s not possible to cross it by bicycle or on foot. On my trip to Awaji Island in March I took the ferry. So, a little wish came true when we passed the bridge and I enjoyed the ride. Now, I calmed down. It’s weekend and we were starting into a great trip. After I while we stopped at a road station and took a small break. Abi, who also joined our weekly hikes before prepared bread and cheese for us. Abendbrot (evening bread) the Germans would say and I was very happy since I was so unprepared that I not even had enough water with me. Back on the road Moona and Marwa kept cheering us up. Todays destination was a lonely bay near Hiwasa where I already spent a night during our bicycle trip on Golden week. We arrived the place around midnight and unlike me, the others seemed not to tired. In the bay it was dark and silent. We quickly pitched our tents and walked a bit along the beach. It was wonderful to be back at this place. The bay is surrounded by mountains which forms a hilly silhouette. The only gate is the Ocean. At this place I felt deeply happiness. Already last time I couldn’t stop enjoying being at this wonderful place far away from the business and stressful city. Finally I was back in my tent and on a journey with other amazing people.
July, 7 th 2019 Ōsaka
Hiking in the Minoo mountains. Every morning I see these mountains when I leave the station heading to go to work. And every morning I’m wondering how it would be being there right now and dreaming of it. These mountains were the mountains of Minoo. We went there in the end of autumn and it was the beginning of these event. I always dreamed of going there again in another season. A perfect match. Since the Minoo park and its waterfall is a popular tourist’s spot I expected many people to join. I was right. This time I joined the group at Senrichuo Station and was happy that even though with many new people they managed to gather at Ōsaka Station smoothly without me. Read more about this week’s adventure and how we met the wild monkey by clicking the link.
June, 30 th 2019 Ōsaka
Hiking Kikusuiyama. Rainy season just started two days ago, but for me no reason to skip hiking. This time I chose a trail which seemed not to be amazing and I just hoped the trails would be in a good condition. I’m pretty sure that nobody ever had heard about Kikusuiyama and Nabebutayama before. So, I was not wondering that under these circumstances anybody new would sign up. But there was Artyom, who was travelling Japan short term and keen to explore the hidden treasures of Kansai even on these rainy day. Click the link to read more about this week’s rainy adventure.
June, 29 th 2019 Ōsaka
Tacoyaki party. I love my new home. I felt home from the very first moment. It’s been just a week, but my live changed a lot. The quality of my every day life increased. It is a calm live in a residential neighbourhood and I already went to the nearby river for running. I just enjoy being at home. Even though there are theoretically around seventeen people living with me in the huge house, I only met three or four of them. I expected a crowded kitchen and shower in the morning and evening. But that’s totally wrong. Mostly I’m the only resident who is using the kitchen and the showers are also always available. I cannot believe that so many people living here. With five of my flatmates we made a tacoyaki (octopus ball, which is a typical speciality of Ōsaka) party tonight. Hardly anybody speaks English, so I guess my Japanese skills will also increase while living here.
June, 22 nd 2019 Ōsaka
Hello Higashiyodogawa. It’s moving day. I’m gonna live in a shared house and unlike German shared houses or flats which are organised by the residents, here in Japan they are mostly run by a manager. Lucky me the shared house manager was picking me up by car. That was real luck, because in the end I had way more stuff than expected. In the end I had four huge boxes, a mattress and the bike bags and my backpack filled up (the stuff I originally brought to Japan). My flatmate Gui helped me carrying down the boxes and so I was waiting with Junya who was working at the reception to get picked up. The shared house manager might wasn’t expecting that much stuff as well and had to reorganise his car first. But all my belongings and me just fitted in and soon we were on the way to the North of the city. The last views of Nishinari were a bit emotional. The ride was short and together we brought my stuff into my new room. We handled all the contract issues and I signed. And then I was in my new room. My home. Silence. Then the bomb exploded and I opened the boxes the make myself comfy. It took me almost the whole afternoon. In the evening I decided to go back to Nishinari to pick up my bicycle, which was already packed waiting for me (the plan was to take it in the car as well, but forget about that). Since the shared house didn’t offer any kitchenware beside pots I went to Nitori again to buy all the stuff I will need. In Namba I packed my bike again in the underground station and brought it on the train. Bicycles are only allowed on the train if they are packed and even then not very welcome. There wasn’t any trouble, but I won’t do that again. Because it is extremely inconvenient! It was already late when I came back home
and I climbed into my loft bed. I already love my new home. And another dream from childhood came true: I have a loft bed now. For many adults might be the inconvenience by itself, but for me a dream.
June, 21 st 2019 Ōsaka
Goodbye Nishinari. My last week in Toyo was horribly busy and I extremely wondered where all the stuff was coming from. Packing in a 6 m2 room during every day life was not easy. I also picked up a bicycle bag from Sayaka and cut my hair. I still was excited and couldn’t wait for moving. On my last evening in Toyo I got also a bit nervous. Many things would change and literally it would be my first own home after leaving my parent’s home. I remembered when I was a small kid I always wanted to move into a flat on top of our nearest supermarket and couldn’t imagine not even living in the neighbour city. Now, my first own home will be in Ōsaka. In Japan. Funny. I also thought about my first days in Toyo. I spent a great time here. I remember how happy I was to have an own big room and laid flat on the ground after sleeping in my tiny tent or on random’s couch for three months. This room and this place were heaven to me and I was welcomed warm hearted. I’m very grateful for this amazing place and with these even more amazing people who welcomed me like a family. I will miss the place as well. It was a unique experience to live in the pulsing heart of the city. With all the light, sounds, people and the big city vibes. I will miss my beloved Tsutenkaku Tower. When I first came to Ōsaka and was down I climbed up this Tower and the city showed its beauty. At this time I never expected to come back and to live there for 7 months. I don’t regret any day.
June, 20 th 2019 Ōsaka
Tomboy. I cut my hair and finally I’m myself again. I hadn’t have that long hair since I was a kid and I couldn’t identify with myself anymore. I was so unhappy with the wild growing forest, so I cut my hair myself with a shaving machine. At the beginning it worked, but instead of stopping I continued. With the result that I looked like a poodle. But it was a good excuse to go to the hairdresser next day. I already have been and she spoke English, but was she was very afraid to cut my “beautiful hair”. It took one hour until it was as short as I asked for. The wool is gone and I’m a shaped sheep now. The most happiest sheep in Ōsaka hihi.
June, 16 th 2019 Ōsaka
Hiking Nakayama. This week’s trail I created a very long time ago. It connected two trails
we already had done. Rainy season has not started yet and the trail was located in my favourite area, the Takarazuka mountains. I was thinking about a hike at Koyasan, but since I had no proper time for planing (which is actually needed for this trail) I luckily decided for this trail last minute. Almost nobody signed up, so I was very surprised when I saw the the many motivated faces at the meeting point at Ōsaka Station. Together we started into this week’s trail and adventure. Click the link to read more about it.
June, 9 th 2019 Ōsaka
Hiking Katsuragisan. I published this week’s hike extremely late and wasn’t expecting anybody new to join. Our Sunday’s hikes became kind of routine and sometimes I’m loosing motivation, but once on the trail I’m extremely happy to escape my nutshell in Nishinari. We met at Tennōji in the morning and this time it was a little bit chaotic. In the end, Hailey, who joined us for the first time, ended up in the wrong train, and Tomal was late. Read more about today’s adventure on the trail by clicking the link.
June, 2 nd 2019 Ōsaka
Hiking Nijozan. Yesterday I was invited at a dinner party at Sayaka’s place, where I also met Yoshi and Tomal. Together with her flatmates and other friends we spent a nice evening with delicious food and wine. At some point somebody had the idea to finish the Sake from Yoshi’s company we opened at the Hanami picnic some weeks ago. Then things went out of control. In the end Yoshi, Tomal and me ended up altogether on my bicycle riding through the night until Yoshi lost her phone… Click the link to read more about how the story ended and our adventures on the trail.
May, 26 th 2019
Dōjō wild river hike and hundred rock (百丈岩) . I love the the mountains of Takarazuka. It’s the place of my very first hike I organised in December and since I also spend a lot of time there for rock climbing as well it became like my second home, especially the area around Dōjō Station. This week the temperature hopped suddenly and until Friday nobody signed up. In the end a few people signed up, but I was very suspicious whether they would show up or I’ll be on my own. I changed the last meeting last minute to the platform. Click the link to read more about our today’s adventure.
May, 19 th 2019
Hiking Mt. Tenguzuka. Nothing is lost in the universe. Even though the weather is just perfect for hiking, only a hand full of people signed up for this event and even less joined the WhatsApp / LINE group. So, this time I expected to be rather alone with Tomal, which sounded very nice to me after this fully loaded week. To my surprise three guys showed up at Osaka Station when I was about to leave with Tomal. Click the link to read more about this trail’s adventures.
May, 12 th 2019 Ōsaka
Hiking Mt. Kannon. I was very happy to see Sayaka again after our trip to Shikoku. During the week I really missed my fellows. It was a wonderful sunny day and I was very excited about today’s trail and had high expectations about Mt. Kannon’s summit. Half of today’s participants we met at Ōsaka Station while the rest joined us at Koyoen Station when we started hiking. We already started climbing up in a calm residential area and had a first amazing view of the Ocean. The trailhead was a little bit hidden, but soon on the trail the view and the trail itself became more and more beautiful. Read more about this week’s adventure by clicking the link.
April, 28 th Hiketa Tanoura campsite
Back to the roots. I woke up late and by the sounds of my friend’s voices. When I left the tent an amazing view of the Ocean awaited me. It was still a little bit cold, but sunny. We had a relaxing breakfast, while more and more local people came for taking their dogs for a walk or enjoying the beautiful morning. I’m sure it was forbidden to camp there, but anybody said anything. It took a while until everything was packed and our bikes loaded for the road. In the early noon we started into a sunny day into our holidays. We arrived at a beach I already stayed at during my bicycle trip. It was a very nice place with yellow sands and pine trees. I deeply fell asleep when I was there last time and this time I took a nap as well. We bought some oranges at the nearby Michi no eki (road station) and enjoyed them while watching the Ocean. Back on the road the plan was to eat Udon Tokushima style with raw egg and luckily there was a Udon shop next to the road, which was awaiting hungry cyclists. The shop was very cute and looked authentically made in the 60ties. We sat in a kind of indoor balcony and could see the ocean. Service in the countryside is way slower than in Osaka or in the city in general. So we spent there a lot of time, but we didn’t mind. After lunch we headed to a campsite I have been last time, which was located next to the Ocean. Last time I followed the National road to avoid climbing the mountains. This time I was keen to follow the road along the Ocean. We weren’t motivated to climb that much, but decided democratelly to give the road a try. It was honoured with a beautiful forest road through the mountains next to the Ocean. It went slightly up, just perfect for cycling. All of us were excited and happy. And for sure riding down the slope to our free campsite was pure fun. The campsites was crowded, but way less than expected. I thought during golden week and especially at the weekend there would be more people. We had no trouble to find a nice spots to pitch our tents. The way we pitched our tents was well planned using old leaves. One big advantage was to have native speakers among us, so Yoshi and Sayaka found an Onsen nearby. On the way there was the supermarket. Just perfect. We went to supermarket for buying dinner and sent Tomal back with the grocery to the campground, since he wasn’t interested in going to Onsen. Dipping in the hot water was heaven. It was almost too hot, so I took a long dip into the cold water tub as well. I always wonder how different evaluate risk in different ways: in Japan even heating food in thin plastic and aluminium is called safe, aluminium is advertised in deos and while in Germany in some thermal baths (water is warmer than in normal pools and from natural source, but even way less hot than in Japan) children are not allowed to enter due to health risks. While I was struggling with my blood circulation, the children enjoyed a lot next to me. For sure it is forbidden to wash your underwear in Onsen, so I wondered a lot when the other two girls started doing this in the changing room. If I was alone, I wouldn’t be brave enough, but at least we had no choice and nobody said anything. After the bath my body felt heavy and lazy due to a high level of relaxation. After a hot bath one feels like newborn. We cycled back to the campground, where Tomal was awaiting us. We ate our bentos and enjoyed Glühwein again. A campground sometimes is like television and we enjoyed our evening watching other, chatting and laughing until the sleepiness caught us and we disappeared in our tents. I felt a deep satisfaction while laying in my tent. These days I mainly would call it my home, it gives me a feeling I never could achieve in Nishinari: home.
April, 27 th Takamatsu
Holidays. Since the ferry’s departure was announced at 11 am and it was around 35 km to get there for Sayaka, Yoshi and me we decided not to cycle in the morning. Sayaka and Yoshi had a bike bag to carry it on the train, while I brought my bike to Tomal’s place two days before. I met Yoshi in the morning at Shinsaibashi to help her carrying the bike and the luggage. She managed to bring it there on her own and was already sweating. Indeed, carrying a bike in Japanese trains and luggage it’s not fun. I still have no idea how Sayaka managed it on her own. At Ashiya I left Yoshi and went to Tomal’s, who was living 10 km from the ferry. I never needed to carry my cycling bags and this for a good reason. It’s hell. I was sweating a lot, when I arrived at Tomal’s. Not because of the weight, they are super unhandy. We were still in time and since we started cycling we arrived quickly at the ferry port, where Sayaka and Yoshi hit by. We had reservations, so we could enter the ferry without any problems. I love Japanese ferries. As last time this ferry had huge areas with carpet to sit down, sleep or do whatever. I also saw people having a large picnic. The ride was about 4 hours, enough time to take a nap and to increase the excitement of the upcoming trip. In all our planing we forgot to prepare a lunch, but no problem at Japanese ferries: they had a Udon shop and we enjoyed a bowl of tasty noodle soup and Ice Cream for desert. The ferry’s first stop was Shodoshima Island, where almost all passengers departed. When we arrived the beautiful green Island in the deep blue Ocean a nice melody was played to inform the passengers of arrival. These little things make me love Japan. Also the toilet was one of the most excited one in my life. For sure it was one of the fully automatic ones, but in the cabin it was next to a huge window and one could enjoy the amazing view. Maybe it’s better not to use it while being in the harbour… We arrived at Takamatsu and the sun was shining. A perfect start. I had some trouble with my cell phone contract, because they didn’t accepted my Japanese credit card (it’s a prepaid card), so we went to the next Aeon Mall and Sayaka fixed it for me. Sayaka lost her key, she bought, so she also needed a new bicycle lock. Entering the mall was a trap. Too many useful things and no ideas about what to eat for dinner made us spend one and a half hour inside. Finally, with heavy loaded bikes full of food and even a kite, we left the mall and Takamatsu to start into adventure. The traffic was low and we enjoyed a 20 km ride during sunset through small streets and villages. Today’s sleeping place was supposed to be at a park at the Ocean with a public toilet nearby. Only a few thousand meters before it went up very steep. It was kind of unexpected and so we followed different strategies to deal with it from run and push the bike to pedal as slowly as possible. Any time, we thought we arrived the summit it went up again. The last few meters were a fight, but finally we arrived at a public toilet on top of a cliff. Nearby was a huge meadow and I was sure it was not one for camping. Anyway it was already dark and so we pitched up the tents. Here next to the Ocean it was completely dark and the wind freshed up. This night would gonna be cold. I didn’t expect that. My friends neither. We made us a picnic place and ate our bentos. Unfortunately they were cold as well. Someone had the idea to heat up the red wine we bought to drink it German style as Glühwein “hot waino”. I sat in my sleeping bag and it took less than half an hour until I fell asleep while watching the night sky and listen to my friends chatting. It felt a little bit like on that November night with Viraj, Anna and Sumanta. At some time, they woke me up and we crawled into our tents. Oyasumi.
April, 21 st 2019
Hiking Mt. Oiwadake. Happy Eastern. I was very excited about today’s hike. On the very first hike (the abandoned railway hike) I organized in Osaka, we went to the Takarazuka area and I was so excited that I always wanted to come back. I published this week’s hike very late, so I didn’t expected much people to show up. Interestingly, I observed that hikes in famous areas are crowded, but usually the trail is rather disappointing while the hikes in “unknown” areas are for real the hidden treasures. And honestly I enjoy exploring exactly this within a small group with familiar atmosphere, since the reason for me to go out for hiking is having a nice time and calm down in beautiful nature. Of course, I’m also not negating adventures…Click the link to read more.
April, 14 th Ōsaka
Hiking Mt. Yoshino. Yoshinoyama is a famous destination during Sakura (cherry blossom). Sakura season was almost over and it would be the last chance to enjoy the full bloom due to the colder temperature in Nara’s mountains. The weather forecast was quite bad. Anyway since the destination was famous I had no great expectations in the trail and also expected many people joining this event. We met at Ōsaka Abenobashi Station and people joined gradually. Click the link to see more amazing pictures of Sakura in the mountains.
April, 7 th Osaka
Hiking along Katsura river. It is peak of Sakura and finally spring has arrived. Today’s trail was the my very first hike in Japan when I was in Kyoto. It was one of the most beautiful ones and I was keen to hike it again during a different season. Last time I was there during autumn, so I decided to enjoy a the wild mountain’s beauty during spring. I was looking for a beautiful and easy hike along Katsura river and the weather was just perfect. Everything went different and in the end I saw myself sitting in a bush beside the river, hiding, while my heart was bumping out of my chest. This hike was one of my greatest adventures so far. Click the link to read more about what happened on this sweet and sunny day and how it turned into darkness…
April, 6 th Osaka
Mankai. Since our Ohanami picnic at Osaka castle park was cold and wet I decided to go there again to enjoy the “mankai” (full bloom) and makes some nice seasonal shots of the castle. My flatmate Mat was going to join a Ohanami picnic organized by the local game developers and publisher scene in Kansai also at Osaka castle park, so we went there together. The weather was perfect, the sun was shining warmly and the sky was clear blue. Spring has arrived. We entered the park and it was overwhelming. The white flowers of cherry blossoms created a landscape white as snow. Under the trees there wasn’t hardly any square left. People were sitting traditionally on blue blankets and enjoy Sakura while having an opulent picnic. It was amazing. For sure it was crowded, but the atmosphere was full of happiness and everybody was relaxed and in a joyful mood. We arrived at our Hanami place and it seemed that almost everyone who is working in gaming developing industry is American around Kansai. I was thinking if my friend Cat might be interested in this event and only minutes later I suddenly saw her. I was really happy to meet her. In the afternoon I went to take some pictures of Osaka castle with cherry blossoms, which was quite difficult, because unlike all these (obviously photoshopped pictures) the cherry blossom trees aren’t next to the castle. But I managed to take some nice shots, in my opinion. At least I enjoyed. After sunset I went back to the Hanami picnic and I honestly I really struggled to catch up with the people. I still struggle to understand native speaker, especially Americans (I don’t know why), and I just didn’t understand what they are talking about. I felt kind of excluded and unfortunately it seemed that any time a one to one conversation was starting it got interrupt after a short time and I was left behind. It was the first time I felt isolated by language so for, but I admit my mood was also very special. Today and during the last week I was helplessly homesick. I miss my family and I miss my friends. I miss that we can just meet up and having a good time. I missed to just can be myself. I’m living my dreams and Japan makes me very happy, but while time is passing by I can feel the price I paid to that dream. I don’t regret anything and I’m pretty sure I will miss Japan desperately if would live somewhere else. It is a trap. I figured out a common problem people who are living abroad suffering about. If I left Japan, I would desperately miss the country and cry, but today when I was at home, I cried because I desperately missed my beloved ones.
March, 31 th Osaka
Hiking Mt. Daimonji. It has been almost a month since the last hike and I was very happy to continue. I was planing today’s trail very carefully, so that we would be able to see amazing cherry blossoms. I decided to go to Daimonjiyama, a very famous mountain in Kyoto. Click the link to see the Kyoto’s amazing cherry blossoms and read more about today’s trail.
March, 10 th Seoul
Hiking Bukhansan. Mt. Bukhan is located in north of Seoul. There are three major peaks, Baegundae (836.5 m), Insubong (810.5 m), Mangyeongdae (787.0 m). Because of its height and the fact that it borders a considerable portion of the city, Bukhansan is a major landmark visible from most city districts. The name “Bukhansan” means “mountain north of Han River”, referring to the fact that it is the northern border of the city. Bukhansan is the highest mountain within Seoul city boundaries, so for me the perfect location for my obligatory Sunday hike. This time I went alone and was very happy for the opportunity to escape
the city, the travellers and for being on my own… Click the link to read more.
March, 8 th Seoul
Hiking Dobongsan. I met Harry yesterday at the Couchsurfing hangout and we decided to
go on a hike together. Interestingly he went to Düsseldorf last December where he met Sam and heard about the hikes as well. So, in the morning he picked me up by car and we drove to Dobongsan. He had his little dog Yogi with him, who exactly looked like my grandpa’s dog. The street from the parking spot to the entry of Bukhansan national park was full of outdoor shops. It was like paradise and I imagined the jealous face of my best friend Dominic…Click the link to read more.
March, 3 rd Osaka
Hiking at Takarazuka. This time I changed today’s trail last minute. Ume (plum) is already blooming and my friend Mat strongly recommended to change the starting point. Unfortunately the warm weather didn’t last for a long time in Osaka, so I started into a greyish and cloudy day not knowing that I would loose a very long fellow at the end of the day. Click the link to read more about our adventure at Takarazuka.
February, 24 th Osaka
Hiking Suma Alps. My flatmates Angèle and me were horribly late in the morning. I don’t know how, but somehow we managed to clean up all our mess in the kitchen within seconds, so we arrived in time at train station and meeting point. As always we talked too much and so I missed out something very important. Click the link to read more about this week’s adventure.
February, 17 th Osaka
Hiking Mt. Myoken. This morning I woke up very early due to headache and body aches. A bad cold caught me overnight and I hardly couldn’t get up. It was much colder than expected and I couldn’t cancel the hike. At the beginning the trail seemed very boring, but it the end it turned out in a one of the most colourful hikes I have ever done. Click the link to get an insight in the wonderful sceneries of today’s hike.
February, 10 th Osaka
Hiking Mt. Kongo. Kansai’s highest peak with an altitude of 1 125 m is Kongōsan (金剛山). I was extremely excited to climb that mountain in winter and enjoy summit’s snowy winter scenery. This time I planned today’s hike very carefully to avoid inconvienience and to enjoy a relaxed climb. As always everything came different than expected and we ran into the next adventure. Click the link to read more.
February, 3 rd Osaka
Climbing Mt. Katano. Today’s trail was a recommendation from Lee, who lived around this area for years. I’m extremely happy to have Lee and Mat, who are helping me a lot finding new trails, collecting informations and helping me out with my Japanese. We grow a pretty strong team. Somehow I heard about the “hoshi no bruranko” bridge, Japan’s longest bridge, which uses wooden panels and since it was very close I just merged the trails. I was very excited. When I left in the morning it was definitely Setsubun, the icy arctic cold was gone. Read more about amazing Mt. Katano and find out if we were brave enough to cross the bridge.