Hiking Mt. Atago (愛宕山) in Arashiyama


Interested in hiking this trail? Download it here!

January, 13 th Kyoto

Climbing Mt Atago. When I planned today’s hike I knew it will be very tough not to end IMG_2603.jpegup in darkness while hiking somewhere in the mountains. The trail was around 18 km with 900 m of elevation. Quite long and challenging. And moreover the ride itself was around an hour to Kyoto. When I was in Kyoto during my bike trip, I already hiked this area (see here) and today’s trail would merge it in the end. If it’s getting dark we would be fine from this point on. So, I set the starting time much earlier and hoped that everything would went as planned. How wrong I was.  I really enjoy organising, from planning the trail to collect all the informations and publishing it. But I don’t enjoy leading a group. I don’t want to IMG_2604.jpegtell people what to, especially grown up ones. I made a major mistake, during the week several people kept asking questions which were already explained in the event’s description like where do we meet where etc. Since everything was written on my homepage and in the Couchsurfing event’s description in detail and I was very busy this week it kind of bothered me. I don’t want to blame any individual, but these individuals make a bunch of people in the end of the day and the probability that I IMG_2595.jpegmake mistakes increases. I usually create a WhatsApp and LINE group. Since this event attracts more locals than travellers, the WhatsApp group is quite empty. The main purpose of creating a group is rather to share responsibility than to share pictures. The idea is that the group can organise theirselves within a given frame. But this does only work if the group is big enough. In this case the WhatsApp group consisted of three people who didn’t read the event’s description and nobody realised that I made a mistake in telling IMG_2611.jpgthe time of arrival in Kyoto (which was one hour later than usually). I did not notice until we arrived at Arashiyama. One guy was already on the way while a girl was still at Kyoto. I called the girl and she couldn’t make it within the next minutes. This was exactly the kind of situation I really wanted to avoid. The whole group was supposed to wait for one hour in the cold or could start walking without the girl. It was my mistake, my decision, and my responsibility in this moment. I called the girl again and apologised and she said we IMG_2823.jpgshould go. I felt very sorry for the girl, because she was planning her day and her holidays. I really failed. We started hiking and caught up with the another guy and it


seemed to be alright and we could start hiking until somebody else from the WhatsApp group wrote he was at station. I replied him within a second that I will pick him up personally. On the way back to station I sent him several messages and called him. No IMG_2637.jpgreply. At the station wasn’t anybody, so I went back to the group. I was already very stressed and in the end we started hiking with one hour of delay. The trail guided us along places I already have been due to my participation at Japanese television. We had to walk along a road for a while until we finally arrived at a small village. I have already been there, but this time I passed the gate to climb Mt. Atago instead of following the river. At the mountain’s entrance gate (torii) surprisingly the missing guy I tried to picked up at the Station was awaiting us. A sign IMG_2635.jpgwarned hikers not to get trapped in the mountains in darkness since the ascent would take around 5- 6 hours. Some people were worried, but I decided to rather trust my own experience than a sign which is created for elderly, unsporty and families with little children as well. The ascent was steep and long. Never ending wooden stairs made us sweaty very soon while guiding us through the forest. After climbing Mt. Rokko we decided to make our break earlier beneath the summit to avoid the coldness. We stopped at a shelter and enjoyed our IMG_2651.jpgbreak. Due to the cold the break was very short and the swear wasn’t helpful to stay warm. We continued hiking and very soon the path was covered by more and more snow. It was a very delightful scenery. Close to summit we saw a man in business suit IMG_2664.jpegand shoes coming down the icy mountain. It was a very funny scenery. It was late when we arrived the temple at summit and I’m sure we were the very last visitors on this day. Even though there was no amazing view, the atmosphere at the snowy summit and in the temple was very unique and beautiful. The sun was going to set and I knew we should head down as soon as possible. One of the monks recommended to walk down the way we came from and somehow a discussion started about it with the decision to stand still and waiting. Time was running. I went on the IMG_2666.jpggiven trail and after a while the other people followed me. The descent trail was amazingly beautiful and much more convenient for the knees. It was a natural path instead of artificial wooden stairs. I was a little bit disappointed about today’s trail, but this trail I would totally recommend. The group was way faster than at the ascent and Lee and me formed the end. We were slightly slower due to my knees condition after all the surgeries, but still only few steps behind. At a corner we lost view contact and got lost. We lost a few minutes and I asked in the group chat about their whereabouts. Together IMG_2642.jpgwith Lee we followed the small steep path down to the waterfall I already visited. It was dark when we arrived there. Luckily from there on I knew the area and we followed a road. It was absolutely dark, only the moon was enlighting our way. It is strange, but I felt very warm and in this scenery it felt like a summer’s night. Like one of the ones I spent with my beloved friends in Düsseldorf. It was still quite far to station and already late, but I didn’t care. Happiness was flooding me and I could have jumped for it. I guess I did. I really enjoyed this winter’s night walk. IMG_2653.jpgMeanwhile the replied that they were in the bus now and that this was the last one. I was happy that they managed to find the way and catch the bus, but it was also a strange feeling that nobody of them noticed for more than one hour that we were missing. I wouldn’t let two people left behind in the cold and darkness in the mountains. Missing the last bus meant walking for around one or two hours while already being very exhausted. But honestly, I didn’t care and Lee was also in good mood. I really IMG_2679.jpgenjoyed the walk back with him. Close to Arashiyama we were hungry as like as wild animals and they only dish which could help was Ramen. I like Ramen in thick creamy soup and my body was craving for it. So, we took the train back to Umeda and went to Tenkaippin. I don’t know how I managed to get back with a huge bowl of Ramen in my belly, but after shower I fell in my bed and fell asleep within seconds. 

Access:  Hankyu Arashiyama Station

Distance: 14 km

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