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Adam and Bob on Yarigatake

Adam on a ridge

Amazing statues at Shin Yakushiji Temple in Nara


Autumn colour

Cake shop at Omi Hachiman

Celebrating manhood

Chargrilled iwana


Children in their hats

Dinner by the hearth

Eyes left

Forty winks in the afternoon

Grasshopper at Kofukuji

I fancy this little red number

Indigo dyeing

Irene and Sue

James at Saigyoan near Yoshino

Kanazawa Castle


Karaoke at Jonenbo

Kurt and Chie

Yarigatake Hut from Yari Peak

The Mountains of Central Japan Tour - September 2006

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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 Mount Fuji.


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 suitcase


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 Tsubakurodake Peak.


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.

Poem by Mitsuo displayed at Nara City Museum of Photography

Translation of Michi 'The Road'

Its good to be alive Japanese

Its good to be alive English

Don't look so worried guys

Ready, steady, ....

Group on Hakusan

Ricefields in Asuka

High level chopstick skill practice

Sake tasting session

Iwana in the irori

Sunset from Yari hut

Kobo Daishi statue on Mount Koya


Wonderful Yoko san

Yup, we can dance to this one

Yakiniku selection

Kurt on a crag overlooking Shirakawago

Kyoto Station from the Granvia Hotel

Ladder descent from Yari Peak

Matsumoto Castle

Meg lends a hand

Mountain light

Nara City Museum of Photography

Nice Japanese paper lantern

On the way down from Tsubakuro dake

Only 1.25 km to go

Pile of Jizo stones Koya

Rev Kondo and Rev Bob

Ridge tile

Ridge walking

Scramble up Yari

Sue on the trail

Sunset climb group

The end of a great day

The irori hearth going well

Up to see the sunrise

Weathered wood

Well-earned evening rest after dinner



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