My latest Post.

This view,this beauty
A tear unbidden
Creeps into my eye.

My stay is short
But I shall return to this place
If only my life is long enough.

Such beauty
Gazing upon it
I hope my years are many.

Bokusui Wakayama.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Seika Town.

      I have passed through Seika Town many times over the years, either on my way to my destination or returning from my days outing. I have cycled through here, walked and driven, but I've never stopped to take the time to check-out the area.

   It was this sign I recently espied that put the idea into my head that maybe I should spend some time seeing what is on offer in this area of Seika Town (more about the sign later).

Map Location.


                                                                                                     I took my usual shortcut route - route-71 - to reach the border of Hirakata City and Seika Town. I have got to know this section of road like the back-of-my-hand, and I know every bump, turn and hill along the 10km distance. As I was in 'touring mode' my plan was not to push myself but relax and take-in whatever I was to encounter.

   After passing through an avenue of bamboo, I emerged to be greeted by this sight - rice fields, about a third of the way through growth. No matter where one sees this, it's always a sight-to-behold. The sign I mentioned earlier, was now directing me up a concrete lane to the right rear in this image.

   A track, branching-off to my left, looked promising, so I decided to explore. This irrigation reservoir, probably used to supply water for the rice-fields below, was all there was here. So I did a u-turn, and headed back to my original destination.

    A short ways up the lane my attention was drawn to this set of steps. Being in an adventuress mood, I leaned my bike against the rail, and decided on seeing what was in store.
   Nothing much, as it turned-out. Just this monument with no notice or inscription. After giving my head a scratch I decided to descend and re-mount my bike, wondering what that was all about. Then . . . .

Map Location.

. . . . just across the road, this noticeboard was to reveal all. This area was the site of Inayazuma Castle, where part of the Yamashiro Riots of 1485 took place.

   The story goes that one group of Kokujin Samurai, that opposed the military governor Sadamichi Ise's rule, went even further after the uprising disbanded. They barricaded themselves inside Inayazuma castle and continued to resist. Consequently, on September 11th 1493, Chouin Furuichi, the man who was appointed by Sadamichi Ise to rule over the Soraku & Tsuzuki Territories, commanded his troops to attack the castle. Chouin Furuichi then defeated the opposing group of Kokujin Samurai, and thus welcomed the end of the Yamashiro Province Uprising, both in name and substance. It is a prominent theory that the last stronghold of this uprising - Inayazuma Castle - was here in the Kitainayzuma/Shiroyama area of Seika Town.

      Once my perusal of the noticeboard was completed, I took a stroll up a flight of steps to this outlook. I can see why castles are sited in such locations. This is quite a view.

    From here my course took me down a narrow lane, to emerge at the Amida-ji Temple nestled amongst the settlement of Kitainayazuma. Not a huge complex, but quiet and serene, allowing me the opportunity to stroll through the grounds.

Map Location.

   At the end of that lane, I joined another equally-narrow lane and, a few meters along, was the Takeuchi-jinja Shrine. Behind the Haiden (oratory or hall of worship) was the Tamagaki (a fence surrounding the Honden) but, as it was heavily forested, I wasn't able to get a good look inside. I returned to my bike via a path lined with wooden lanterns. Just below this path were several flouring plants and, seeing these, I couldn't pass-up the opportunity to photograph them. The above two images, at the commencement of this post, are the result. Very colorful if I say so myself.

   Leaving Takeuchi-jinja my lane took me past the Anraku-ji Temple - a very small and private complex - and returned me back into the bush. After passing another two irrigation reservoirs, and a derelict shed, I came-across this Jizo. One blink at the wrong time, and I would have missed this.

   As I made my way through the bush, the sounds of traffic became louder and, before long, I emerged at this Futsal  court close to the Keinawa Expressway, one of the oldest expressways in Japan. From here I took a lane that ran parallel to the expressway - many motorways, bypasses & expressways have these lanes running alongside them for emergency vehicles in case of large accidents - to where I connected with route-72. Passing-through the commercial and residential area of Seika Town, I made a beeline for the settlement of Higashibata.


                                                                   And the Higashibata-jinja Shrine (map location). This is very familiar territory to me as it is part of a 30km course I created through this area. Over the years I have spent many hours sitting on the Kagura-den, consuming a banana and water while reveling in the serenity that surrounds me.

   I depart Higashibata-jinja in search of a recently discovered track, not realizing I would be returning to the same shrine in the coming half-hour. On the past two occasions I have taken this lane, I have noted this small sign & track, and wondered where it went. Well, today was the day I was about to find out. The track leads to Mt Dakeyama (260m) the highest mountain in Seika Town. 

   After a quite steep ascent, beating my way through fallen branches and being covered in spider webs, I arrived at the summit. As it was surrounded by dense bush, there was no view of the surrounding area but . . . .

 . . . . a few meters from the summit, partly obscured by the trees, was this interesting collection of stone markers. This one (image on the right) was of particular interest to me. A close look revealed three characters carved on the face of the stone. I can see a visit to the town office for information regarding the identity of the character.

   Back at the summit I realize I am standing at the junction of three tracks, including the one I have just ascended. Not interested in returning via the same route, the track on my right gets the nod and I head-into a forest of bamboo. 

    As I have no idea where I am, and where I am likely to end-up, I push on. My only worry is that I am not wearing the appropriate footwear - my cycling shoes - for hiking. I soon emerge at this narrow lane and I erupt into laughter. This is part of the course I frequently cycle and, just around the corner . . . .

. . . . is Higashibata-jinja. Upon my return a party of foreigners  had arrived. It turned-out they are from New-Zealand and are in the area scouting-out a location to set-up a business. A small world.

   Returning to my bike, I mount-up and move on. I pass another sign giving directions to Dakeyama - the third track - before emerging back onto route-72 and realize my course is nearing it's end.

Map Location.

   I arrive at this nondescript junction where three roads converge. This is also the junction of three municipalities - Seika Town, Kyotanabe and Ikoma Cities. Unlike the Hirakata/Seika border, where I commenced this outing, there is no sign. Just a peg in the ground.

   I decide to take a rest, before returning home, and consume my remaining three bananas. As it's nearing midday, the hottest part of the day, I don't stay for too long. Heat exhaustion is something I am keen to avoid.



                                                  Before signing-off, I thought I would share a couple of images if Fungi I encountered during my travels. 

So, until next time - 


   Course details and images - 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Return to Shizuhara - the obsession continues.

   It was a wrong turn at this junction that denied me my 4th summit of the day, the last time I was in this area (Return to Shizuhara). And, if I hadn't been so pigheaded, when I realized my mistake, I could have u-turned and easily got back on track.
   As I have an obsessive disposition, I wasn't going to let this rest and immediately put into plan my return. My research revealed another couple of summits that required my attention - Mt Ryuodake and Mt Amagadake - along with a couple of unnamed peaks. My course would also include a few previously conquered summits - Mt Suitaiyama, Mt Konpirayama and Mt Hyotankuzureyama. 

Map Location.
     I disembarked from my train at the Kibuneguchi Station, a popular destination for tourists and hikers, who come to check-out the settlement of Kibune, and it's many attractions, and also to hike the Kibune to Kurama Trail. My destination was in the other direction, a kilometer along route-38, where this collection of stone religious icons signified the commencement of my track.

    With the track just a few meters away, I couldn't help wondering if the icons had some attachment to the course I was about to endeavor. Well this section anyway.

   For the next 30-minutes the track would ascend 240 meters in a steep, zig-zagging fashion, on it's way to my first summit of the day - Mt Ryuodake. Having payed close attention to the weather forecast, and the predicted high temperatures, I had already worked-up a sweat and was looking forward to taking-on some cold water and my first banana of the day. It had been three hours since I consumed breakfast.
   From Ryuodake the track would follow a ridge-line for a few hundred meters before descending onto the Yakkouzaka-togi Pass.

Map Location.

                                                          The pass is part of the 'Tokaido Road' and the 'Kyoto Trail' and is very popular with members of the hiking community, having passed-through here three times myself in recent times. The most recent a month ago. 

   Thirty minutes after leaving Yakkouzaka-togi I arrived at my second summit, - Mt Toyamine (525m). This is the one I missed-out on conquering during my last outing into the area, so I felt some vindication for my pig-headiness upon my arrival. 

   And, 10-minutes further on, 'that' junction. The one where it all went wrong. I felt like giving the sign a kick but, as I still had a long way to go, I didn't want to risk injury to my foot. So instead I made a physical gesture to the sign and carried on my happy way. I was aware that my track was taking me along a ridge-line, at the same time gradually ascending. From Toyamine to my next summit - Mt Amagadake - was a difference of over 200m. All throughout from my departure from Yakkouzaka-togi, I was very impressed with how well signposted the track was and, looking at the condition of the track, a well beaten track at that.  

Map Location.
   Three hours after leaving Kibuneguchi Station, I had arrived at the highest point of my planned hike - Mt Amagadake (788m). And what a relief it was. I was knackered, hungry, and every stitch of clothing I was wearing, was soaked with sweat. But I was content. From here on it was all downhill, with a few undulations just to make the day interesting.
   Once the obligatory photo opps' had been gotten out of the way, I found a nice soft piece of ground to plant myself, take-out the flask and lunch-box and relax. Well, that was the idea. Just as I was about to take-off my boots I noticed a large red stain on my socks. Signs that a leech had been feeding on my blood supply. Thankfully he hadn't consumed too much and I was able to remove him before he became bloated. How-the-hell these worms manage to make their way to my ankle, while I am on the move, is a source of fascination for me. But, as I had a hot coffee waiting to be consumed, I wasn't going to dwell on it any longer.

   After leaving Amagadake, and a disappointing lunch - I say disappointing, as my bread-sticks were dry and stale, the bananas were soft & mushy - my track descended to this junction. At this point I could choose to cut my day short and emerge at the settlement of Ohara, and a bus back to Kyoto, or continue on. I chose to continue as I knew, just a way up ahead, was a fresh water spring where I could replenish my water supply. But, before that . . . .

. . . . Mt Suitaiyama (577m). The track took me over the summit but, to get here, I had several undulations to contend myself with which left me feeling very parched. All I had left to drink was one more cup-of-coffee, but I was leaving that for my arrival at the Kotohira Shingu Shrine.
   Before that though, I had more undulations, then Mt Konpirasan. The track bypassed the summit - the summit is a 10-minute detour from the junction - and, as I have been here before, I wasn't going to tire myself by returning.

Kotohira Shingu Shrine was a welcome site.

   As it is here I could replenish my water supply from the small spring behind the shrine. It is reputed the water has special healing powers. But, before that, one last cafe au-lait and bread rolls. As the second flask was being filled, I managed to consume most of the first flask. I was that parched.

    Leaving Kotohira Shingu, my track emerged at this concrete Torii on the edge of route-40. Here I crossed the road and, a few meters on . . . .

. . . . my next junction. From this angle it looked very steep, and I began to question my decision as to whether I should continue. My map told me this next segment would take 90-minutes. I decided to stick with my plan. I was pleasantly surprised that the ascent was only a few minutes before arriving at another ridge-line.

   I was even more overjoyed when, just over an hour later, I arrived at the junction to Mt Hyotankuzureyama. Like Konpirasan, I decided to forgo returning to the summit and instead descended into the settlement of Iwakura.

   Soon after leaving the junction I encountered my first, and only, Jizo of the day. Although it looks quite large in the image, actually it is small and easily missed.

   With the sounds of the city ringing below me, I began to feel excited that my day was nearing it's end. How wrong I was. My descent was boring, and dangerous to say the least - 300m over 2km. Nearly 8-hours after arriving at the start, it took me the best part of an hour to reach this junction on the outskirts of Iwakura. I still had a good walk of about 3km before reaching a bus-stop and onto Demachiyanage Station. Followed by a train ride and ending with another bus ride before reaching home.

    As soon as I arrived home, and removed my boots & socks, I made a beeline to the fridge and opened a good cold can of beer. It was sooooo nice. I was tempted to open a second but I didn't want to tempt fate. Especially on an empty stomach.

   Looking back on the G.P.S. data, the course was just on 28km long. I wouldn't recommend doing this during the summer months, unless you had plenty of fluid. There were a couple of good views, but mostly I was surrounded by forest.

   Before I sign-off, I want to share some images of the many fungi I encountered along the way. Many I haven't seen before . . . .


So, until next time,


   Course details - I can't guarantee           the accuracy of the course due to the poor internet reception in some areas.