This journey is over. Next one has begun.
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.
September, 28 th 2019 Ōsaka
I AM IN JAPAN. This was my first entry and the start of my journey exactly one year ago. I remember I wrote this sentence in my cabin at Kawasaki full of excitement about the upcoming journey. Today, I’m still in Japan. Japan was always special to me and in deep in my heart I always knew this journey will have an open end. I fell in love with this amazing country and its beautiful people. My heart was guiding me to Ōsaka and it was a kind of self fulfilling prophecy. I arrived at Ōsaka for the first time around Halloween last year. It wasn’t love on the first sight, my first visit ended up in a mess. Winter was coming, I had no idea how to continue and a person I was thought I could rely on broke my neck. Anyway I left with the aim to come back and start something new. I went to Shikoku to enjoy the last autumn leaves of my bicycle trip. During that time my destiny for the next months was sealed. I came back for a job interview, got the job and settled down at a colourful backpacker’s place, Toyo, where I spent an amazing time with even more amazing people. With the new year I started my – very first – job as a scientist. I changed my visa due to bureaucracy and without realising I accidentally moved to Ōsaka. The initial journey was over and it took me some months to realise. But it was the beginning of a new journey. I left the hostel in summer after seven months of staying. Finally I fully arrived in Ōsaka. Since the purpose of this website changed a lot and mainly treats hiking and adventure topics, at this point I would like to give you an insight of my every day life, especially for the ones who stayed home. I live in a shared house in Higashiyodogawa in the northern part of Ōsaka. It is a rather quiet residential area and close to both, city centre and my work. I live in a big family house with other 15 girls, but I still haven’t met all of them. I only meet the same five of them. It is quiet and I also wonder how it works that peacefully without any fights for resources. Half of the residents are foreigners, half of them Japanese, but I’m the only westerner. The shared house is run by a company, so I don’t need to deal with any housing affairs. My day starts at 7 am and unlike in Germany I have no problems with getting up. Shower, breakfast and some time for relaxing until I take the train to work. Train ride is short and also the Station is just three minutes from my home. I’ll start work at 10 am and have my own project, which is running well right now. We are a very international lab and the atmosphere is very familiar. Language is English and Japanese. Some machines are only operating in Japanese, which was challenging at the beginning. I really like my work and the people around me. The kitchen table is always full of sweets and snacks labmates brought as “Omiyage” from their business trips. After work I go for climbing and since I while I also joined a Taekwondo club. Especially people from my climbing group became close friends (no wonder, when your life is twice a week on their hands and you fight death with them). I’m very active and doing sports during the week after work (as in Germany before), so Saturday is my rest and housework day. Sometimes I also go climbing. Sundays are still reserved for hiking as one can read on this website. We already explored 30 trails around Ōsaka and I’m still excited about the city I’m living in. People from hiking also became friends and still new people show up. Even though I deeply my family, friends and especially Taekwondo club I enjoy my life and I’m happy. This is the life I want to life. Every single part of it is well chosen. This is my dream and I’m grateful for the opportunity to live it. I’m planning to stay longer in Japan. In Ōsaka. The imagination of leaving is painful. For sure, living in a different country 10000 km away from family and friends and starting at point zero is challenging and often I struggle a lot. Sometimes I’m super homesick. But in the end I’m just happy. I’ll come back for Christmas and I can’t wait. I’m also sure, I will miss Ōsaka.