The Mountains of Central Japan Tour - September 2007
What are the main ingredients for a successful tour? Assuming that the tour runs according to a well-prepared plan, then adventure, new insights and experiences, good company, delicious food, and a variety of carefully selected places to stay must come high on the list. The Mountains of Central Japan continues to develop as one of Hike Japan 's most successful and innovative tours with an itinerary that includes high mountain walking. It has all the ingredients listed and this time, yet again, there was great company and a good time was had by all.
The group were all friends from the Los Angeles area, and this made for good start. One or two members had already visited Japan but for everyone it was a new experience to explore the mountains and then get off the beaten track in the Kansai area.
The highlights of the tour – among them Kenrokuen Gardens , ascending Yari peak, the ridge walks, Matsumoto Castle , and old Kyoto – are always accompanied by a string of unplanned, but no less memorable events and moments. This time we were fortunate to come across an exceptionally large group of macaque monkeys on the Omote Ginza ridge between Otensho and Tsubakurodake. The encounter is described in the following haiku poem
A troop of monkeys
Appears ahead. Just like us
As the haiku that everyone wrote on the trip suggest, the mountains were a tougher challenge than some had bargained for. Indeed there was at least one member who had never climbed so high, on such precipitous ground. Fear was mixed with excitement, and exhaustion left legs quivering as we descended on the last day in the mountains. Although nearly all below 3,000 meters, the mountains here are steep and the paths, although clearly defined, often require walking over rocky terrain and sometimes scree. The ladders and chains help considerably, but it is stamina that counts over the course of several days hiking. The pace is never hurried on a Hike Japan tour, however, and the slowest are always encouraged to walk at their own speed. I was amazed at how resilient everyone was in meeting the challenges they faced on this mountain hike. The weather is often settled at this time of year, and this year was no exception. The sunny, dry conditions lifted spirits and helped to keep us going. A sense of humour always helps
Leg cuts, face abrasions, insomnia
Buttock bruises, scratched shins, headaches and fluid retention
Fun was had by all
Far from the conventional 5-7-5 syllable haiku form, these lines expanded to include references to a range of afflictions! Written with a wry smile, perhaps, but the last line says it all. I am writing this a couple of weeks after the tour. I've received several emails saying how much everyone enjoyed themselves, and one today mentioning that Jim (who had a great time) is still exhausted but getting back to normal! As well as the walking of course, it is important to take into consideration the effects of culture shock and jet lag. I know from personal experience that it takes a fair time to return to ‘normal' after vigorous adventures in far-flung places like this.
Lunch after the Matsumoto Castle visit at the newly opened Hikariya, a refurbished traditional kura storehouse was an interesting experience, and the Kyoto ramen noodle lunch was a hit as usual. Food is always a highlight on Hike Japan tours
Hiking and eating
In Japan are an awesome
Experience we love
I could go on and on about what a great time this was with some wonderful people; take a moment to look at the photos and read the haiku poems.
Click to read
haiku poems from this tour.