The Mountains of Central Japan Tour - September 2006
Opinions generally tend to be divided about this tour, between
those who say that they would like to do more mountain walking in
the Alps, and those who say that it was a harder challenge than
they expected, but that it was worth the effort. Everyone is different,
every group is different. There are challenges, but where is the
adventure if there are none?
At this time of year there is always the threat of typhoons disrupting
the itinerary. We were very fortunate again this time to catch some
really lovely early autumn weather. We had fine views from the Omote
Ginza route from Yari to Tsubakuro. It was so clear we could see
Toyota managed to mess up the van booking so for the first day
we had to squeeze into a smaller van than we should have had. We
took regular breaks on the way to Kanazawa and, for the first time,
we stopped for a delicious lunch on the first day at Omi Hachiman
near Lake Biwa. Megumi, who later join us to interpret in Kyoto,
met the group and showed us around. One of younger members of the
group ended up in a sports car she admired in the car park. A little
red number. Toyota had produced a smaller van than I had booked
on the first day, and it was pretty cramped, but had she opted for
the faster option I'm not sure the sports car could have taken her
In Kanazawa we discovered a couple of nice little restaurants in
the Higashi Chaya area. Near the public baths we used. One European,
the other serving Japanese kushiyaki. Vegetables and meats grilled
on skewers. Sighting a kingfisher in Kenrokuen was quite exciting
and, as usual, the tablecloth-sized, immaculate Japanese garden
in the Nomura samurai house was exquisite.
We stayed in a different gasshozukuri style thatched cottage in
Shirakawago this time. Dinner was in a big room around a hearth
with charcoal in it grilling fish. Nearer the river, there was time
in the evening and again in the morning for short strolls.
The hike from Kamikochi was wonderful as usual. With quite a large
group this time, we had our own 'room' on the first night in a lodge,
but it felt more like we were staying in a capsule hotel. Sharing
the same capsule! We got to know each other very well. Rather quickly.
We saw ptarmigan and monkeys from the Omote Ginza as we approached
The traditional karaoke session got off to a slow start, but was
a corker when it did. The same with the power-assisted bikes.
It was a pleasant surprise to meet an American monk, Reverend Bob,
at Yochiin Temple. Many mysteries surrounding Shingon Buddhism were
unravelled thanks to Bob's eloquent explanations.
It was great having half of the members of the group from the States
on this tour. It was good to have the youngest member ever, my son
Adam, on holiday from university.
In 2007 we will introduce a new route, the Kurobe-Kamikochi Alpine
Route. I hope this will appeal to those who want to do a longer
trek in the North Alps. It is a one week hike, so will be an opportunity
for those who want to spend more time walking but who might like
to go on and devise their own travel plans in Japan for another
week or so.
Click to read
haiku poems from this tour.