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 (read more about it) 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. It was warm and I already sweated a lot while walking to the Station. The sun was already burning. We all met at Senrichuo Station and took the bus to skip the residential area. We walked around a corner and followed a small road which directly guided us into the mountains. Surprisingly, from one to another moment we had the feeling to be deep in the countryside and hiked next to young rice field surrounded by deep green mountains. Soon we entered a forest and in the shadow of the trees it was very nice to hike even in summer. Officially we have rainy season right now, but generally there isn’t much rain at all and today’s weather was the perfect summer’s day. Smoothly we climbed up on that forest trail. The path was small and next to us large deep green fern was growing. The soil was soft and it was very relaxing atmosphere with happy people chatting with each other. I admit after a while of climbing we all sweated a lot and took several small breaks to cool down, but it was still enjoyable. We arrived at Katsuo-ji temple and I was surprised about such a beautiful place. The temple required to buy a ticket and for today’s hike it wasn’t suitable to enter. But I definitely will come back to visit the temple soon. We took our lunch break in the shadow of the temple’s entrance. I cannot describe the deeply feeling of happiness I had on these perfect summer’s day in the mountains surrounded by amazing people. With an ice cream in my hand, we slowly continued our way to Minoo park. The trail I chose was absolutely locked, so we continued the main road and I hoped for a trail to sneak into the mountains soon. Luckily we only needed to walk on that road for a few hundred meters until we found a trail into the mountains again. While the sun was shining with all its power we enjoyed the shadow of the forest we were hiking through. The alternative trail I chose was also blocked, it seemed all the trails which were higher in the mountains were heavily damaged. It didn’t affected us that much, but the trail was way shorter and we were close to the famous Minoo fall very soon. Suddenly I recognised the the trail we were walking on. This part was merging the one we already did last December. We arrived a junction and since it was very early due to the short cut I let the group decide wheater to go to the waterfall directly or take a beautiful detour which will lead us through the place where the monkeys lives. They decided for the detour even though the trail was blocked with a yellow tape and the note “dangerous”. After some experiences with blocked trails during previous hikes I wouldn’t cross anymore, but this time I knew the trail was safe and amazingly beautiful since we already hike it last December and there wasn’t any typhoon yet. Some people weren’t happy to cross the tape, but at least they trusted me. The trail didn’t change in the last seven months. The sunlight was shining through the huge trees while we were hiking along a ridgeback and climbing up continuously. Silence. On this part of the trail is a spacial atmosphere. The fallen trees created a very nice smell. I cannot describe it. It is very unique and enjoyable. The trail’s condition was messy at a minimum (it can change very quickly after upcoming typhoons). This part is one of my favourite trails around Ōsaka. Before we climbed down, we could enjoy an amazing view of Ōsaka on one side and Minor’s mountains on the other side. We crossed a street again and followed a forest road. After a few hundred meters we bumped into the wild monkeys habitat when we went there last time. We were surprised and amazed by all the monkeys surrounding us. I hoped so much there would be still there. My hope came true and exactly at the same place we spotted the first monkey last time, the spotted one there again. We waited for the rest of the group to catch up and go through together when a man appeared. He told to Sayaka that we’re not allowed to pass, but he led us the choice to go back (which meant a huge detour) or go through the area very quickly without taking any pictures. I was very thankful and happy for this. I can understand the ban to protect the monkeys from the plenty of tourists who might come and mess up. We were visitors and we should behave like this. I don’t support zoos and animals in cages, the more thankful I was for the opportunity of this short visit at the monkey’s home. They are amazingly adorable and when I look into their faces, no doubt, it feels like a mirror. This time the monkeys were enjoying the sun and warm temperature the way we at the weekend. Lying in the sun, taking a nap and delousing each other. Between them tiny baby monkeys which play with each other. After passing the monkey’s habitat it was only a short walk to the famous waterfall. Last time I was a little bit disappointed, because I expected it to be a bit more amazing, so my hope was that the waterfall may has a more blue collar in summer. It hadn’t. Again the most important part was the journey itself. Anyway the waterfall is nice and the place around either. It fits the perfect Japanese image and all of us enjoyed and were happy. After a while of taking pictures together we headed on a beautiful path along the river to the Station. I was very keen to take a break at the foot onsen next to the station, but unfortunately it was already closed. Closing public bridges and foot onsen is something I will never understand about the culture. Together we went for dinner at Umeda and finished a nice day of hiking.
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, 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, 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, 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, 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 area, especially Mt. Rokko is a popular destination, so I wasn’t surprised that more than fifteen people signed up for today’s hike. When I arrived at the
meeting point at Ōsaka Station, the group was almost completed and we took the train to Ashiyagawa Station, where we met Tomal and some other people. It took a while until we were complete and ready, but soon we starting in the sunny trail. We passed a short residential area and entered a forest’s path. Smoothly it went up and due to the humidity it was exhausting and we sweated a lot. It is a very strange feeling, even though it wasn’t that warm and the sun’s power was weakened by some clouds and the trees I sweated way more than usual. It felt like my skin couldn’t hold the water. Luckily we could enjoy the first amazing views of Kobe and the Ocean while recovering. We continued climbing up and suddenly I saw some rough chunky rocks on the other side. I got excited and hoped that would be the trail I chose. They did. The trail went more and more rocky and soon it became just a wall of big yellow chunky rocks. It felt like rock climbing and the view was amazingly breathtaking. Some were as amazed as me while others were contesting a challenge. With outstanding success. While climbing through the big rocks of the rock garden we got separated a bit, but on a pleatau we merged together. I couldn’t believe how amazing this trail was and happy that the weather was supporting us. We enjoyed for a while the views while gathering while Juzer and me bouldered to another rock face next to the plateau. Mainly due to childly exuberance. Even though I do rock climbing and bouldering I could feel the fear while bouldering there in my minimal sandals and saw the stupidity of this action clearly. Luckily it went well and altogether we continued our way through rock garden. It was already lunch time and the spot I had in mind while creating the trail just showed up when my stomach growled. The place was a natural square plateau with a breathtaking view. The plateau is the plane surface of a big rock and it is absolutely surreal how it got there. But it was an amazing place and I dare to say that’s the most amazing place I enjoyed on all the trail around Ōsaka. Everybody was happy and enjoyed this wonderful lunch. We met two very sympathetic locals, took pictures with them and talked a lot. Suddenly we realised we lost two of our fellows, I sent our location and hoped they would manage to find us. Strengthened we continued the last meters of climbing to reach Arachiyama summit. A second amazing viewpoint followed where a very special local enjoyed. A ginger cat sat like the Lion King on a rock reaching in the air. The cat was deeply relaxed and the coolest sock on that rocks. Juzer and me were the last ones and a little bit left behind. The others waited after climbing the last rock chunk. I usually hike in barefoot sandals and it was the first time I got a problem. I couldn’t find a hold at the plane wall of rock and also not bring enough pressure on my shoes sole to climb it up. Juzer supported me and created and and artificial tread. Like a stranded whale I heaved my body up that rock while struggling a lot. A bitter moment for a rock climber. The trail guided us on a forest path deeper into the mountains and minutes later we arrived the summit of Arechiyama. Since the summit itself is surrounded by trees it wasn’t any special place, but we met our two lost sheeps and were complete again. Laughing and chatting we continued on the trail which was consisting of yellow rocks and a lot of green fern. It was very enjoyable. The trail changed its face many times, so it din’t get bored. I was super thirsty and I my body craved for a cold drink and suddenly there was a fountain on the trail wish fresh cold water from the mountains surrounded by some self made benches to take a rest. We filled up our water reservoirs and started refreshed into the last part of today’s trail. The last part was again very beautiful and a some water rinsed along the trail. For my feet the pure refreshment. Then we entered a deep forest and it felt like being in a fairy tale. We followed a river which became slowly bigger. Now and then there were some self made benches inviting us to take a short rest. The forest became darker and deeper and the river a canyon. There was a huge waterfall next to ruined house or temple. It was a scaring place. Dark and lost. I climbed to the waterfall and then. A load scream. It was me. The body of a dead baby boar was lying in the pool. Half eaten. What a creepy place, the perfect scenery for a horror movie. I didn’t feel convenient. It was only a few hundred meters along the impressive canyon until we got out of the forest and entered a residential area while the daylight was drizzling. We walked to Okamoto Station, which was just a few hundred meters. This was one of the most amazing trails I hiked so far and I absolutely recommend it. It is way more amazing than climb Mt. Rokko itself. No doubt, Mt. Rokko’s Rock Garden is one of Kansai’s hidden treasures.
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, 26 th 2019 Ōsaka
Sold soul. If you kept reading this website you might noticed that next to hiking and climbing I have another small passion: writing about trails. Since I settled down in Ōsaka it became an inherent part of this website to write about every week’s adventure and providing the trails for other adventurers. At the beginning I had no idea where to go and where it would be worth to go. I checked the internet and found an app which provided trails. Unfortunately I had to sign up and pay money to download them. It’s wasn’t worth the money providing a hand full of trails. And of course I also checked for other groups to join to avoid all the work of planing. What I found was based on a fee as well. I found several “hiking groups with international people”, all promising amazing trails, but not providing further informations about the exacted places or even the trails. All of them were asking for more than just a compensation. It was business. Annoyed and disappointed by all this money making machineries I started organising events on my own and providing the trails for everybody who is looking for some adventures in the nature. My dream was to create a collection of trails all around Ōsaka and motivate the people to go out. I created and hiked about thirty trails in Kansai so far. My map looks quite full. This morning I received a mail from the website, which I use to create the gpx file and hosts my trails. It is an amazing website, donation based and people could easily download without any sign up or payment. I found a model which matched my philosophy. Now, they sold the website and in my opinion their soul to even that company which annoyed me at the beginning and motivated me to share my trails open source. They explained they cannot handle the fast growing, which I understand and that they choose a company which met their interests and philosophy. My disappointment was unbounded. Now, everybody, including myself has to sign up and pay to download my trails. I’m not able to download my own data anymore. It is not about the payment itself, but I strongly dislike the way they turn others work into their benefit without any honouring. I put a lot of effort for each event and trail and it was my choice to share it with everybody, but it wasn’t my choice to donate them to a large company to make big business with it. Unfortunately it is technically not that easy (at least for me) to share them on this website directly, since this website operator asks for money to provide further technical opportunities and the amount is just too much.
I’m sure I will find a solution and keep sharing the trails, but it will be more inconvenient for the hikers and adventurers. But I will do my best to bring change even though the frame is so tiny. Knowledge and nature are goods that should be free of charge! Let’s keep sharing whatever we have!
July, 28 th 2019 Ōsaka
Hiking 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.