Mt Ishizuchi, Shikoku, Japan

Thursday 30th May 2024
Today we started the day with a hotel breakfast which was really yummy. It consisted of scrambled eggs in a creamy sauce, noodles with little sausages, semi cooked boiled eggs, fish, braised chicken, some vegetables, rice, yoghurt and fruit sauce, and pastries. We both tried a sample of everything. It was very good. One the way out we saw a note showing a typical Japanese breakfast so we might try that tomorrow morning.

Then off we went about 9ish, we had a similar drive to the mountain trailhead of Mt Ishizuchi as yesterday without the road closure. It took 1hr 40mins to drive 66km. That is a sure indication of the type of road we were driving on. Narrow, winding, blind corners, etc.

Along the way we stopped and walked across a suspension bridge to nowhere, actually it had a walking trail at the other end. We have passed many suspension bridges in the last couple of days that all look like they are headed to nowhere.

Then the fun begins, David’s question was “Is it one way or 2 ways. Yes it must be 2 ways as there is mirrors for the blind corners”. It was a lovely drive, but after what seemed like forever we finally arrived at the trailhead. A quick bit of organisation, change of bag contents as there was a 40% chance of a little rain in the afternoon. We both put in a rain jacket and umbrella and wore long sleeve merino tops. The trail started out nicely on pretty even terrain with views in all directions. Along the way it changed to steps, rock steps, log bridges and walkways until we had hiked about 4km in distance and up 200m elevation. We still had about a km to go and 350m in elevation. It got much steeper and we came to the vertical ladders, or so we thought. Instead it was a vertical rock face with heavy duty chains. There were 3 of these sections, we didn’t see the 1st but chose to do the 2nd section which was 65m directly up the cliff. This was challenging and required some strength, grit and determination and came with a little anxiousness and adrenalin. It felt a little scary and David worried a little as it was also a bit dangerous. That being said, we took our usual care and as much time as need to ensure our safe arrival at the top of this section. That being said, when we came to the next vertical section of 68m, we decided to take the chicken staircase. We had fulfilled the challenge once and didn’t need to do it again. We continued along and finally reached the top of Mt Ishizuchi and looked out to the most magnificent view . At the top there was lovely shrine.

We thought we had made it when one of the men I spoke to from Matsuyama pointed to the peak across a razor edge section of rocks, that is after you went down another chain drop. I almost didn’t;t go but as always don’t want to miss out. It was a tricky climb to the peak but we both made it there. We enjoyed our lunch with the most amazing view then traversed the tricky razor edge again. I managed it a little better on the way back and was grateful that the rest of the day was downhill and along easier paths. We enjoyed the views as we walked back down to the car. It had been a really good day and an enjoyable 11km hike which took us almost 4 hours.

We then had the drive home the same way, winding, narrow and we thought through empty streets, unfortunately we had a few cares, a couple little farm trucks and a few motorbikes to contend with. They always gave you a little fright, as you didn’t see them until they were right on you. We arrived home at about 6.30pm.

After a soak in the bath, a chat on the phone we headed to Sapporo Restaurant where we enjoyed a lovely Soy Ramen for dinner and a great chat with the chef and his mother. He had worked in a leather shop at Darling Harbour for one year about 15 years ago. They sold Akubra Hats to the tourists so he was a very valuable staff member with the Japanese tourists. He had ok but a little sketchy English and his mother had none. We managed to order dinner and have a chat and a laugh. My Japanese always makes them happy and it always gives them a bit of a giggle as I try new phrases and names. It was an enjoyable meal and conversation.

Tomorrow is yet to be decided on but we might head to Kyushu, another Island south west of here. It means driving north across 7 smaller islands north to the mainland and then heading south before going across to Kyushu. Anyway, this is still in the planning stages. More information to follow in tomorrow’s blog.

Mt. Ishizuchi (1982m)
Scale a stunning sacred peak with breathtaking views and hidden shrines
Mt. Ishizuchi is one of Japan’s seven sacred peaks. Named “the Stone Hammer” for its characteristic sharp and rocky summit, it is the highest peak in western Japan and is known not only for its beauty but also for the challenge it presents climbers. But after a tough hike up this rugged mountain, you have a chance to relax and enjoy a rare kind of peace and tranquility at its peak. Toward the top of the mountain, the trails become steep and you can climb up some near-vertical faces with giant chains bolted to the cliffs. These are for the adventurous, with stairs offering an easier alternative. At the summit, you can choose to climb the razor’s edge peak of the mountain, known as Tengudake. Here, you’ll find stunning views of the Ishizuchi mountain range, the Seto Inland Sea and, on a very clear day, Kyushu.
There are various shrines dedicated to the mountain gods as you walk up the mountain. The flow of tradition and history seem palpable. The mountain has been used for religious training from ancient times, and to this day ascetics train here. Joju Shrine at the start of the main route is a simple yet elegant building with a large collection of stone hammers on display.”

“In summer, the Otabi Falls is a waterfall with a single large stream. In winter, the entire waterfall freezes over, creating an even more fantastic view especially when it is lighted up.”