< class="pagetitle">Posts Tagged “Saijo”

On Sunday, six friends and I climbed western Japan’s highest peak, Mt. Ishizuchi. We took a painfully-early 6:15am train to Iyo-Saijo, then a bus to the foot of the mountain, and finally a gondola to the base of the trail.

The hike really wasn’t that hard- at 1982 meters, it’s a little over half the height of Mt. Charleston (3632 meters) near Las Vegas, and was easily doable in one day (you have to try really hard to do Charleston in one day). In fact, I’d call it a rather fun day trip. As Mt. Ishizuchi is one of Japan’s holy mountains (of which I’ve summited two, now), there was a shrine at the trailhead and a small traditional Japanese inn- and don’t forget the requisite pre-boxed and wrapped souvenir shop- this is Japan, after all.

One of the coolest features of the hike was the climbing chains set in the rock faces to make climbing them without gear safer. They’ve since created regular hiking trails for the faint of heart that bypass the really dangerous bits, but if you’re reading my blog, you probably know which way I chose. 😉

My least favorite part of the day was the ridiculous amount of flying insects that seemed to form a roving cloud around my head. There’s at least one picture from Sunday of me with a pained expression on my face as I curse and swat frantically at the air in front of me. In fact, many of my pictures have little black streaks where they flew in front of the camera right when I hit the shutter button. On the way back down the mountain, I discovered that the souvenir shop sold bug netting to put on your hat to keep them out of your face. Now I know for next time.

Aside from the cool climbing chains and the not-so-cool bugs, once you ascend above the forest (jungle?) canopy, you’re treated to scenery worthy of the original meaning of “awesome.” It was a gorgeous day, with just enough cloud cover to keep us cool, but not so much as to spoil the views. When you’re almost at the top, there’s a very narrow ridge to traverse from the final building out to the actual peak. The rock outcropping where the “path” crosses isn’t level, and it’s a bit disconcerting to think about the drop that’s only a few feet away on either side. We all made it to the actual summit, though we almost lost one or two of our members at particularly nerve-wracking parts of the trail.

Overall, a fantastic way to spend a Sunday. Which reminds me, these are probably the first pictures many of you will have seen of my girlfriend Yuko. 😀 Long story short- we met while salsa dancing in March, and her English teacher happened to be a friend of mine. After randomly running into each other another couple of times, we started dating in May. Succinctly, she kicks ass.

That is all.

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