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September, 1 st 2019 Ōsaka
Dark forest. 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.
Access: Okamoto Station – Ashiyagawa Station (Hankyu bus stop “Hodenguchi”)
Distance: 10 km