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Hiking

Hiking:

70-80% of Japan is forested and/or mountainous, making it a hiker’s paradise. Some mountains have trails that range in difficulty from “your genki grandmother can do it” to “be prepared to get lost.” Your school may even have a mountain climbing or hiking club you can join.

Trailheads can be difficult to find, so a Japanese hiking book might be useful if only for the maps. There are often multiple tracks up a mountain, so loop courses can be done. If you try a loop course, a topographical map and compass are highly recommended. Trails sometimes peter out into nothingness, with only bits of colored tape to mark the path. One good thing about hiking in Japan is that there is usually a village or a road at the bottom of every mountain. If you are lost, go downhill and you will probably be okay.

There are a few places in the ken to purchase hiking gear. Chizu Mise ??? is a map shop in Tenjin (on Showa-dori across from the Central Post Office) that sells a range of topographical maps and Japanese hiking books. Camp 2 is a good hiking chain store with branches in Nakasu (Fukuoka City) and Kokura (Kitakyushu City).

The following is a list of places to hike in the ken. Be sure to look in the respective area sections for more details.

The Adachi Ridge The trail is surprisingly secluded and well kept. Keep an eye out for the rope swing. The hike takes five to six hours, but give yourself more time to enjoy it. Bring your own food and water. Maps are available, but the maps on the trail will suffice.  

Hiraodai Limestone Plateau in Kitakyushu has some great hikes. The limestone caves, complete with stalagmites and underground streams, are well worth a visit. There are three caves, each one taking about 45 minutes to go through. For more information on hikes you can ask at the Kitakyushu Tourist Information Desk at Kokura Station.

Sarakura-san From Yahata Station, walk straight out for about 15 minutes to the base of the mountain

Hinoyama in Shiimonseki, Yamaguchi-ken, is just across the Kanmon Strait on Honshu. Hinoyama is an easy day trip from nearly anywhere in the prefecture. To get there, transfer to the Sanyo Line at Kokura or Moji in Kitakyushu and take any Shimonoseki bound train. Then take a bus from Shimonoseki Station going to Ropuuei Mae. This can be easily combined with a visit to Chotsu or one of the mountains in Shimonoseki.

Fukuchiyama (900m) offers a spectacular 360-degree panorama of Nogata, Iizuka, and Kitakyushu from the top. You can get a local bus to Fukuchiyama from the Nogata Nishitetsu Bus Center, but this service is somewhat infrequent. A more convenient option is to take the Heisei Chikuho Tetsudo beside Nogata Station to Akaike (Red Pond), then take the Fukushi bus to the starting point.

Hiko-san (1200m) is one of the highest mountains in the prefecture. Take a train from Tagawa-Ita to Hikosan station and then a bus to trailhead itself.

Homanzan (829m) is a popular hike, with views of Fukuoka and the Chikuho plain. Start from Dazaifu Shrine and follow the signs to the trailhead. The best route is a steep climb up an excellent, wellused path to the temple is at the top. A variety of trails are available for the route down, offering rappels down steel chains set in the rock, hidden waterfalls, secret groves, and rock climbing faces. When using the seldom-used trails, a topographical map is recommended. The nearest station is Nishitetsu Dazaifu (tranfer at Futsukaichi on the Tenjin-Omuta line)

Kaneyama is close to Fukuoka and accessible by bus. It features thunderous waterfalls and hidden pools perfect for taking au naturel dips. The mountain is right beside Sefuriyama. A ridge route is possible from Kaneyama to Sefuri, but it is difficult to find even with a topographical map.  

Shaka Dake in Chikugo is very remote in the southeast region of the prefecture, near Yabemura. There is a lot of good walking. Horikawa buses are infrequent. You can stay at Soma no Sato, an active-type center.  

Kyushu has loads of fantastic hikes in Oita (Kuju), Kumamoto (Aso), and Kagoshima (Kirishima). Check out the Lonely Planet Hiking book for more details.  

Hiking Tips Watch out for the poisonous mamushi (snake), which is brown with a diamond shaped head and is found in rice fields. Most other types of snakes on Kyushu are harmless. Suzumebachi, a large Japanese bee, has been known to kill people with weak hearts. The water running in the mountains is apparently okay to drink, but only if there are no rice fields, farms, or other habitations upstream.

Youth hostels and camping grounds are quite common. Look for the sign (??????). Resort bungalows are also available, usually offering just a dry place with tatami and futon. For more info: www.jyh.or.jp/.  

Check out Lonely Planet Hiking in Japan for more hiking ideas in the ken and further afield. Some information, such as pricing and times, is out of date (it was published in 2001) but the hikes themselves are pretty well detailed.