Hyakumeidaki (Japan’s top 100 waterfalls)

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So some of you may have heard of the hyakumeizan, that I have mentioned a couple of times in previous posts – Japan’s 100 top mountains. This list was originally based on a book by Kuyu Fukada, and was made famous/popular by Crown Prince Naruhito when he announced his intention to climb as many as possible. Since then, many people have embarked upon similar campaigns; I met an older fellow at the summit of Mt. Ishizuchi who was up to number 73. I too have decided to make a point of climbing a number of mountains on this list. With winter coming, and a limited time in Japan, there is definitely no way I can get through all 100 before I leave, but if I’m in an area and want to do some hiking, I figure I should start with ones on the list as opposed to any other random mountains around.

But anyway, this post is not actually about the hyakumeizan! When I was WWOOFing in Kochi, I had mentioned them to my host father and he told me that there was also a list of the top 100 waterfalls in Japan: hyakumeidaki. Since I am into nature and especially love waterfalls, I thought I should look up this list too, and lo and behold, I had already seen a number of falls that were listed there. So this has become my new goal. Again, I probably won’t have time to see them all, but I think I can make a pretty good crack at it.

Read on for some of the best falls I have seen so far on this trip. Continue reading

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Yukkuri Yufuin

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Tourist streets of Yufuin

Tourist streets of Yufuin

After a long hike the day before and onsen in the evening in the famous hot spring town of Yufuin, I decided to have a rest day – wandering around the streets of Yufuin town and checking out all the shops, cafes etc. I was surprised at the number of Korean tourists around, and not a bit sorry to see them all leave at lunch time, since they are a lot louder and much less polite than Japanese people!

Yukkuri means ‘slow’ in English, and despite all the tourists, I did find myself spending a slow and very relaxing morning in this place. Compared to the nearby hot spring resort of Beppu, Yufuin is like a long lost cousin, with all the same great qualities but stuck in the past and not as ‘in your face’. Continue reading

Hiking the Kuju Mountains

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Day 3 of my road trip, and after waking nice and early to an overcast morning, I had some breakfast and set out on my hike of the Kuju Mountains. I got myself a map from the visitor information centre, but other than that really had no idea about the place, and quickly realised there were a number of different trails leading up and over the mountain peaks. So I basically decided to follow the main trail that most other people seemed to be taking, and was rewarded with some fantastic views.

For the ascent, I took the Sugamori trail, which goes past an area with numerous steam vents, since the Kuju Mountains form an active volcano! After around an hour of fairly serious hiking, I made it to the first major junction, from which many people seemed to climb Mt. Mimata. Though it looked like a formidable course in itself, I was here for the highest mountain on Kyushu, and so I continued on for around another 90 minutes – first through a wide sandy river valley and then up a pretty steep rocky slope to another high saddle.

Steam vents along the Sugamori trail

Steam vents along the Sugamori trail

Valley between Mt. Mimata and Mt. Kuju

Valley between Mt. Mimata and Mt. Kuju

From here I made the hour or so ascent up to Mt. Kuju, for which the range is named, and was rewarded with amazing 360 degree views over to Mt. Yufu, Mt. Aso (in Kumamoto prefecture), and even caught site of the top of Mt. Unzen all the way over in Nagasaki prefecture. I took a break of about 20 minutes while I ate some yoghurt and fruit, and then it was time to head off again to the tallest mountain: Nakadake.

View from the top of Mt. Kuju

View from the top of Mt. Kuju

Continue reading