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Archive for the ‘Walks/Hikes’ Category

Not far from the Akan National Park, there is yet another national park in Eastern Hokkaido: the Kushiro Shitsugen (釧路湿原), the largest wetlands in Japan. It is most famous for the red-crowned cranes (丹頂, tancho), which spend the winter there, which are also the emblem of the whole Kushiro region. While it is apparently possible to see cranes also in other seasons, we could not spot any. (more…)

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Jogashima and Miura

Like last year, January has been a succession of clear days with bright blue skies around Tokyo. And since we enjoyed our walks at the seaside so much last year, we wanted to repeat the experience. This time, we traveled to the very tip of the scenic Miura peninsula, in front of which the small island of Jogashima (城ヶ島) is located. It is connected to Miura Peninsula by a toll bridge. The coastline consists of steep cliffs and is very similar to what we have seen last year at Cape Tsurugi. The island affords views of Mt. Fuji, the island of Oshima and the Bozo Peninsula. The whole area is very quiet and untouristic. For once, one can see some unspoiled nature, including a variety of birds (apart from the kites which are ubiquitous along the coast). (more…)

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Have you ever stood in a queue on top of a mountain in order to go back down the stairs? Well, I have. Another very Japanese experience.
We finally went up Takao-san (高尾山), Tokyo’s favorite mountain escape. Located West of town, it can be reached conveniently by train from Shinjuku. Given that the autumn leaves are at their peak, what could be better than a trip to the wooded hills? Not an original idea, of course. Thousands had had the same idea at the same time. (more…)

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Miharayama Volcanic Desert Would you believe that in Tokyo Prefecture, there is a place where it is so silent that no sound can be heard but the hum of a passing insect once in a while? Admittedly, I am not talking about Central Tokyo. But of the Izu Islands, the closest of which, Oshima (大島), is some 120 km away from Tokyo and can be reached by a hydrofoil jet ferry, a marvel of modern technology and comfort, in less than two hours. Knowing Japan’s geological makeup, no one will be surprised to hear that the seven Izu Islands are nothing but the tips of as many volcanoes, they are in fact part of the so-called Izu-Bonin-Mariana arc which starts up North with Mt. Fuji at a triple tectonic junction and extends as far as to the Mariana Through, the world’s deepest marine basin.

Miharayama

Central cone and trail head to the summit of Miharayama seen from the caldera rim. The 1986 lava flows are visible.

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The next morning, crossing the highest pass of the Nakasendo was on our menu: the Torii-toge (鳥居峠), 1197m (yeah, I know, it doesn’t sound all that high). For this, we took the train back one stop to Yabuhara. At first, one follows the road uphill in Yabuhara itself, but finally, it gives way to a trail through the woods. Starting from Yabuhara, the climb is quite gentle. On the highest point, there is a shrine, and a little further on, the valley opens up for a nice view. (more…)

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The old post town of Magome

In the Edo Period, there were two roads connecting Kyoto and Edo: the Tokaido, following the coast, and the Nakasendo (中山道), literally the road through the mountains. The most picturesque part of the latter is the Kiso Valley (木曽谷), about half-way between Nagano and Nagoya. It leads through mountains densely forested with the famous hinoki (檜), the Japanese cypresses which furnished the wood of which castles and shrines were made.

Looking back down towards Magome

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Shiroito-no-taki
After almost one year, we returned to Karuizawa for a day trip. From Tokyo, it’s a convenient destination, since the Shinkansen takes you there in little over an hour. In summer, it is moreover a welcome escape from the heat of the city and therefore a popular holiday destination with the rich.
At the station we caught the bus toward Asama-san, which took us in about half an hour to Minenochaya. From here, we started hiking downhill, retracing backwards a walk we had done last year. The first natural stop after a little less than one hour was Shiraito-no-taki (白糸の滝), the white thread waterfall. The name is obviously fitting. This waterfall is special for its small height (a mere 3m), but impressive width of 70m.
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