Jizo/Kannon/Yakushi - September 1988
This trip was quite a "Go/No Go" event
even before we got on Azusa #1 train leaving Shinjuku at 7 a.m.
on 10th September 1988. At one stage the list of participants reached
14, only to dwindle to 4 or 5 a couple of days before the walk.
I was pleasantly surprised to see 8 hikers, including Alan Kingsley
who just managed to hop on to the train as the doors were about
to close. The participants were Karen & Chris Sanford, Karen
Holt, Mary Sipple, Tim Herrmann, Yoshi Minegishi, Kate Fickle, Alan
Kingsley and myself.
We soon got to know each other as the train sped
on its way to Kofu, which we reached in an hour and thirty six minutes.
Here we changed to Platform 3 and took the slow train 5 stops to
Anayama, arriving at 9-12 a.m. I had arranged for a microbus to
meet us for the 40-minute drive to the start of the walk, Gozaishi
Kosen, and as we got off the train I repeated to myself "There
WILL be a microbus here, there WILL be a microbus here!" Sure
enough there was, as in general arrangements such as these go like
clockwork in Japan.
Back Row L to R: Kate Fickle, Alan
Kingsley,Tim Herrmann, Mick
Piper, Mary Sipple
Front Row L to
R: Karen Holt, Yoshi Minegishi, Curtis & Karen Sanford
We reached Gozaishi Kosen by 10-05 a.m. and after
the second group photo of the day we were ready to start walking
by 10-30 a.m.
The climb was fairly tough going and fairly steep
for the first 3 hours, and as we were walking through trees for
most of the time it was humid. Although the group began to string
out quite a bit, with Tim and Yoshi blazing the trail up ahead,
everybody moved forward at their own pace without complaining, making
it a joy to lead the group. We passed Asahigoku Chogo at 12-40 p.m.
and reached Tsubakuro Atama at 1-25 p.m. after exactly 3 hours walking.
Tsubakuro Atama is a really pleasant spot under trees and surrounded
by dense bamboo foliage. It is an ideal resting place for lunch
after the 3 hour climb. Also it is a landmark in that the trail
gets infinitely more interesting after that point, and apart from
not being too steep, there are several features which are picturesque
Resting at Tsubakuro Atama
The sandy sadle, soon reached after leaving Tsubakuro
Atama, was perhaps the most challenging feature, and several members
of the group felt quite nervous as they traversed it. In reality,
however, there is little danger here.
The Sandy Ridge
Approaching Ho-o Lodge
We eventually reached Ho-o Lodge at 3-45 p.m., just
in time to sample some mushrooms prepared on an open fire by lodge
keeper Hosoda san. These mushrooms were gathered from around the
lodge, and the combination of the smokey flavour and the soya sauce
made them really tasty, complementing the first cold beer of the
Hosoda San preparing mushrooms
It was most pleasant sitting around in the entrance
of the lodge during the late afternoon, talking amongst ourselves
and with other hikers as the rain started to fall, and then became
heavy. We were joined by Hiroshi Ito, a Professor at the Department
of Physiology, Kyorin University School of Medicine, who had arrived
at Ho-o Lodge from the Yashajin Toge end, our destination the following
After a curry dinner in the evening, Hosoda san was
kind enough to allow us to use his private room for the evening's
revelry, and we sat drinking beer, whisky, Kate Fickle's Thai whisky
and Yoshi's hot-can sake.
Professor Hiroshi Ito on the left
Not surprisingly most people slept well that night
after the strenuous excercise and the booze!
Six hangovers waiting for breakfast!
It rained most of the night and was raining quite
heavily the next day when we got up. After breakfast we left the
lodge at 6-45 a.m., and started the long slog up the sand slope
towards Jizo. It was quite hard work, and the wet conditions did
not make it any easier. We arrived at Jizo at 7-45 a.m. and Karen
Holt, Tim Herrmann and myself climbed the obelisk as far as the
base of the final block. At this point it was quite windy and we
did not feel inclined to risk climbing up the slippery crack to
Yet another group photo
Leaving Jizo at 8-10 a.m. we climbed to an intersection
with a sign pointing to Kannondake to the left and Hayakawa Ridge
to the right. For some unexplicable reason I led the group off to
the right, and it was not until we had been going for half an hour
or so that we realised that we were heading in the wrong direction.
I felt that the excursion was well worth while, if accidental,
as the trail along the Hayakawa Ridge was quite pretty and well
worth another trip.
Kannondake left; Hayakawa Ridge
right; if only the sign had been in English!
Nevertheless we had to backtrack, and got back to
the intersection by 9-15 a.m. The detour did bring one benefit to
us, and that was that the mist had cleared and Jizo was now clearly
visible. We were able, after all, to get a group photo with Jizo
in the background.
Looking back along the ridge towards
The climb to the top of Kannondake was perhaps the
most tiring part of this route, as most of the group were waiting
to see the long downward ridge that I kept promising was "just
beyond the next rise". Kannondake stands at 2,840 meters high,
and as the time was now 10-22 a.m. it was a good point for a long
Our pace quickened along the
ridge as we left Kannondake and we reached Yakushi just before 11
a.m. We carried on for almost another hour, and decided to have
lunch on reaching Minami Omuro Goya.Leaving Minami Omuro Goya the
path climbed for 30 minutes or so until we reached Ichigodaira,
and then began the long descent towards our destination, Yashajin
Toge. By now the group was beginning to show signs of wear, with
boots coming off at each rest stop to examine sore feet and potential
blisters, but no one complained and we reached Yashajin Toge Goya
at 2-50 p.m. We were within 40 minutes of the bus stop at Yashajin
Toge Iriguchi, and by now most of the group were relieved that the
end was in sight. Arriving at 3-40 p.m. we rested in the local coffee
shop until the 4-22 p.m. bus arrived to take us back to Kofu Station.
Yashajin Toge Lodge