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How #10mountainsinjapan mission started
Yadoya Guesthouse, Nakano, Tokyo
Navitime for Japan Travel and Japan train system
YAMAP : Japan's Social GPS Trekking Companion
Japanese Mountain Map 101
10 mountains in Japan
2007 and counting
Friday, May 27, 2016, 4:08 PM
1. Mount Io (硫黄岳), Southern Yatsugatake, Nagano.
Mount Io / 硫黄岳 (2,760m/9,060ft) was the first mountain in the list. Mount Io is a stratovolcano mountain. It is one of the many peaks of Southern Yatsugatake mountain range located at the border of Chino and Minamimaki Prefecture, Japan. Southern Yatsugatake has 8 peaks (Mount Aka being the highest) while Northern Yatsugatake has 10 peaks (Mount Tengu being the highest).
I hiked with two of my new friends whom I knew from social media (the one I mentioned earlier in previous post, remember?), Anas (but I like to call him Nanas more, so I'll use Nanas in this post) and Sota-san. Well, being the random me, I was the one who asked Sota-san to hike together. And later when Nanas knew about it, he wanted to join us as well. Initially, Sota-san planned to hike three mountains, Mount Aka (the highest peak of Southern Yatsugatake mountain range), Mount Yoko and Mount Io. But due to bad weather, we only managed to hike Mount Io (also due to my inability to endure cold weather).
THE TRUTH : I lost the data once I updated iOS (oh screw you Apple!). So, this is basically what I remember. (sobs)
Sota-san and Nanas picked me up at 2AM at the guesthouse I was staying in Nakano. It took about 3 hours (more or less) to reach Yatsugatake-Chūshin Kōgen Quasi-National Park by car. We stopped at highway pit stop in the middle of the journey for Subh prayer. It was my first time seeing Japanese highway pit stop, and trust me, I was jakun. Haha.
Public transport instruction :
From Shinjuku Station, take the rapid train to Chino Station.
From there, take a bus to Minotoguchi Trailhead (美濃戸口).
Shinjuku→Chino Station → Minotoguchi Trailhead
2 hours 25 mins. (¥6,070) → 45 mins. (¥900)
Though I hike often and have like 3 years of hiking experience, I still could not get rid of the nervous feeling. It always gets me whenever I hike mountains I have never been to. I didn't know what to expect, what to feel, what to think. The unfamiliarity made you losing your mind. I told myself to calm down, just follow the flow, keep walking and rest if you need to. And I also told them about my hiking pace so they can estimate theirs. Hmmm, just like I expected, first mountain is always the hardest (cough*worst*cough).
We started hiking around 5.30AM from Minodo trail head. I do not have much information on the trail though, because I lost the log in my phone and I did not buy or take any maps of Yatsugatake mountain as I could not find any (actually more like I forgot to go to the office). Haha. Sorry. But here is a few information on the trails we used, roughly.
Minodo-guchi / 美濃戸口 (trail head) - Minodo Sanso - Kitazawa - Akadake Kosen (hot spring mountain hut) - Iodake (Mount Io) - Gyoujyagoya - Minamizawa - Minodo
After few hours trekking, I started to feel the coldness as the elevation increased. Cold weather is my ultimate weakness. I can endure steep trail, hiking for hours (I once hiked for 16 hours straight with heavy load before *cough*V1*cough) or walking under scorching sun. But not cold weather. I could not think straight when I hiked Kinabalu last year as it was too cold to handle (because it was raining the day before and the temperature dropped). So when Sota-san said it was not that cold, I thought a thin Uniqlo windbreaker would do me justice. Sadly, no (cry). The weather in Japan mountain area is still cold even in summer. And I learnt my lesson, in a VERY HARD WAY.
I know I should never believe him. I mean, I should never believe in his ability to withstand cold weather. He used to it! He used to live in winter! Who am I kidding? Yes, myself. He just wore a windbreaker and he was fine with it which was very contrary to my condition. Haha. I suffered and struggled and mentally exhausted throughout the whole 4 hours trekking (usually it takes about 3 hours trekking but we stopped at Akadake Konsen for rest) because of the coldness (yes, you can laugh all you want). I felt guilty to them because I complained about the weather too much that I think they felt annoyed. So sorry guys... T.T
The wind started to blow even stronger when we nearly got to the peak. Thick mist was everywhere and it was pretty hard to see. After struggling with the strong wind, thick mist and coldness (oh god), we reached the peak few minutes later (around 9.50AM). Many hikers were there as they were stranded due to bad weather. All of us wanted to proceed to Mount Aka, but could not do so as it was quite dangerous because there were parts where you have to climb to get to the peak.
We decided to descend after taking few pictures. It was so cold, so windy, that I think our sweat starting to freeze. Really. Hontoni. Sota-san chose to use other trail for descend as it was more fun that way (according to him).
We had a rest at Gyoujyagoya (mountain hut) for awhile and gave ourselves a chance to enjoy the view of Yatsugatake mountain range. It was magnificent. I always love Japan for their advanced technology, cleanliness and manners. But I never knew that their mountains are also beautiful!
It was a sad thing that I broke my film camera on the first mountain (I accidentally dropped it, the advanced knob broke). So, no film pictures throughout the trip. Only the digital ones that I took using phone camera (cry even harder TT.TT).
We continued our journey to Minodo. We passed through river stream and mossy forest and stopped for awhile for some pictures. If you think Irau's mossy forest is pretty enough, well this one is even prettier. Hehe. After few hours trekking (probably about 2 hours more or less) we reached back to the Minodo trail head. Prayed and went back to Tokyo! Wohooo~
p/s : Sorry for the not so pretty writing style that might caused bleeding eyes and heartache. XD. If you want to see my experience in video format, go to instagram.com/izzarosli. Thank you for reading. Hope it helps. :)
Friday, April 22, 2016, 11:27 PM
How #10mountainsinjapan mission started
It has always been one of my biggest dreams to travel far from home. To experience hiking mountains in other country and to explore what their forest has to offer. I often hike in Indonesia as it is one of the cheapest and nearest country to go. But I want to go further and Indonesia is not enough (greedy, i know. hehe)
So, right after my Rinjani trip way back in August 2013, a friend of mine (Ijan) invited me to join his hiking trip in Japan in 2015. Without thinking twice, I said yes, I want to join him. Few months later in December 2013, I bought a return ticket to Japan. Wait...What? Why so early? I know it was way early and I did not wait for any flight ticket promotion. But buying flight ticket is a sign of commitment to your plan and I was committed to my plan. Besides, I could not do research if I do not know how long my travel period is.
The hiking trip was actually a week. But a week was not enough for me (again, being greedy. hehe) and it is not everyday you can go to Japan. So I extended my trip to 3 weeks, about 21 days. First week, I spent travelling alone (solo travel! wohooo~ nahhh...). Second week, hiking trip with Ijan's team and third week, traveled with my friends, Bibi and Kodeng.
At first I just want to hike few mountains, maybe about 6 mountains, I think? But somehow during the research and planning stage, it added up to 10 mountains. Haha. But trust me, when I was in Japan I did not really follow my itinerary. 50% of it changed, including the 10 mountains list. Haha. But still, planning an itinerary is a must especially if you are planning for hiking trip as you need to be fully aware of the surrounding, the trails as well as the nature of the mountain. You have to be fully prepare for the worst. Most of the experienced backpackers said itinerary is not important. Let them be, they are backpacker, not hiker. Don't risk your safety and life.
Research and planning were the most tiring parts (apart from working to fund the mission) because you have to read a lot, like A LOT. I'm not kidding when I said that I spent a year to prepare for Japan. I started with reading Lonely Planet 'Hiking in Japan'. I know certain backpackers hate Lonely Planet. But who cares, Lonely Planet is my savior. I read it in order to get a rough idea about Japan mountains and where to hike. I also asked a lot, asked for itinerary and such. But you know what? None of it I used as reference because different people have different mission. It was no use for me. So, I decided to just make my own and start from the scratch.
I also made friends from social media. I knew Anas from twt_backpacker (he was a curator) and Sato-san from Instagram (which I will talk more about these two fellas later in my next post). Both of them are currently staying in Japan. Anas is a student in one of the universities in Niigata while Sato-san is a Japanese hiker and photographer who is staying in Saitama (no, not that Saitama one punch man -.-). And these people were so helpful, like ALL THE TIME. They helped me a lot. They wouldn't mind answering my never-ending questions and entertained my curiosity. Haha.
And yes of course, I trained (both physical and mental), not too often but I was fit enough to complete the mountain list. Huhu.
And I have amazing people around me that helped me in realizing my dream. I would not have done it without them. Friends who always give me advice and support 24/7. My mother for always being my number one supporter. Though she is not a hiker, but she always encourages me to hike further and I definitely would not be who I am today if it was not for her. No word can describe how grateful I am to Allah S.W.T for sending these people into my life.
#10mountainsinjapan is the most memorable experience for me. It taught me a lot and changed me into someone better in many ways.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016, 5:03 PM
Yadoya Guesthouse, Nakano, Tokyo
Finding a cheap and convenient hostel/guesthouse is easy in Japan IF you do it early. But if it is a last minute decision, things might be a bit hard. At first, I had no clue on where to stay. I mean, like, where is the most strategic and cheap place that is near to the city? And also has female dorm room? I was lucky that even though I was a bit late, I managed to find a cheap (price may be vary due to currency) and cozy guesthouse through Hostelworld.
They had few spots left for female dorm room during that period. So, without thinking twice, I booked the room for two weeks (but not two weeks straight). Done! Why two weeks? It was a hiking trip and I was too lazy and tired to pack and unpack the rucksack because my rucksack was BIG and HEAVY with food and hiking gears. And I spent another week in the mountain.
The location of Yadoya Guesthouse is very strategic. Located in the middle of a peaceful neighborhood in Nakano, it is near to JR train station, Shinjuku, laundry and public bath are few blocks away and the most important thing, 7E is JUST ACROSS THE STREET. HAHA.
I did not have trouble communicating with the staffs as most of them can speak English. They were very helpful and friendly too! It was fun talking to them because some of the staffs are actually backpackers who work while traveling. We shared lots of stories while eating in the kitchen. Oh ya, they have kitchen, iron and hair-dryer as well. Moreover, they also provide luggage storage for only 200 yen per day/bag which is CHEAPER than the other luggage lockers! I left some of my stuff there for a week because I had to go to Minami Alps for hiking trip, and it only costed me about 1000 yen!
If I were to repeat Japan trip, I would definitely come here again. I love the environment, and the people too. But most of all, I miss this.. T.T