Jizo/Kannon/Yakushi - November 1988
Location: Minami Alps, West of Nirasaki
Transportation to start point:
Train: Shinjuku 7:00 a.m. - Nirasaki 8:49 a.m.
Train: Nirasaki 9:04 a.m. - Anayama 9:12 a.m.
Bus: Anayama - Gozaishi Kosen 40 minutes
Goazaishi Kosen - Nishinodaira 40 minutes
Nishinodaira - Tsubakura Atama 2 hrs 30 mins
Tsubakura Atama - Ho-o Lodge 2 hrs
Ho-o Lodge - Jizo 50 mins
Kizo - Kannon 1 hr
Kanon - Yakushi 40 mins
Yakushi - Kusahara 40 mins
Ichigodaira - Ogare Atama 1 hr
Ogare Atama - Yashajin Toge Lodge 1 hr
Yashajin Toge Lodge - Yashajin Toge 40 mins
The Jizo/Kannon/Yakushi walk is a fairly strenuous two-day walk reasonably close to Tokyo, west of Nirasaki in the Southern Alps. The starting point, Gozaishi Kosen, is reached by train and bus/taxi. Take the Chuo Line from Shinjuku to Nirasaki, just past Kofu. Most trains stop at Nirasaki, and you can take a taxi up the winding river valley on unmetalled roads to Gozaishi Kosen. Alternatively you can change to a "kaku eki teisha" at either Kofu or Nirasaki and go to Anayama, where a microbus shuttles between Anayama Station and Gozaishi Kosen. Anayama is out in the country so it is worth phoning the lodge ahead of time to make sure that the microbus is operating.
Gozaishi Kosen is a place to take a breather and to get organised for the long climb to Hoo0 Lodge, a 5 to 6 hour walk. Water is available at Gozaisgi Kosen, and a small shop stocks a few basic items such as hand towels, chocolate etc. The early stages of the walk are uphill in heavily wooded land, and there are some interesting features on this stretch. At one point the side of the hill has fallen away leading to a narrow path to traverse (or a safer route through the trees) At another point, you drop down onto a sandy saddle which runs for 20 or 30 yards and falls away on either side .... not particulalry dangerous but it adds to the interest of the walk. The path continues through wooded hillsides, breaking into the open occasionally until a large ladder made of tree trunks is reached which assists you up a 10-foot hillock as the path continues at 90 degrees to the contour line. This ladder is a sign that you are getting close to the lodge. You break out into a lightly wooded area and Ho-o Lodge is ahead. Accomodation is fairly basic, with the "Shin Kan" (New building) being slightly better and slightly more expensive than the old lodge.
Leaving the lodge on day 2, the path drops down to the stream before rising again on the other side and entering a wooded area. After 20 minutes or so you arrive at a wide sandy slope which leads to a saddle between the Jizo obelisk on the right and the trail off to Kannon on the left. The saddle is the resting place of many stone Kannon figures, and the terrain falls away rapidly into another valley on the other side. A cool wind whips across the saddle; firstly refreshing it soon becomes chilling after the hard climb up.
Now comes the most beautiful part of the walk, the cimb up to Kannon (2,841 m) and along the gently sloping ridge to Yakushi (2,765 m), with a splendid view of Kitadake (3,192 m) across the valley to the west. The ridge flattens out falling away to Kusahara. The hard work (or most of it!) is now over and on a fine day the reward of the majestic view of Mount Fuji can be seen in the distance. The path passes through trees and heavy bamboo foliage as you make your way down to the road at Yashajin Toge, where you can catch the bus back to Kofu.
Mick and Uchida san at Gozaishi Kosen
Mick at Tsubakuro Atama, 3 hrs 10 mins walk from Gozaishi Kosen
Ishikawa-san and Uchida-san preparing a brew on our arrival at Ho-o Lodge
Accommodation at Jizo Lodge "Shin Kan" is spartan but clean
6-12 a.m. and ready to start the climb to Jizo obelisk
The climb up the long sandy slope to the saddle between Jizo and Kannon
Jizo at 2,760 meters high is an impressive peak
The view of the surrounding mountains is spectacular
Across the valley to the west is Kitadake at 3,192 meters high
A marvellous walk along the ridge
Looking back towards Jizo
Mount Fuji from the ridge
Yakushidake 2,780 meters
Uchida-san and Mick