As the sign says, rock climbing to the right, hiking to the left (yeah, yeah, the pictures are reversed!). Christmas Eve was an outdoorsy day! Chris, SMS and I drove about 2 hours and change to get to Mt. Joyama, a great south-facing rock climbing wall with multi-pitch routes in addition to single pitch. Although we drove, Ohito Station is the closest station with about a 20 minute walk to the trailhead.
Mt. Joyama is part of a chain of several small mountains. The translation is that they are “volcanic neck mountains,” created by solidified magma in the central vent of the volcano. The outer layers of the volcano erode away leaving only the solid core as a small mountain. I think a better translation would be a volcanic plug mountain, just like the “Nine Sisters of San Luis Obispo County” that Morro Rock is a part of. The descriptions of how each of the hills/mountains formed is pretty similar. The other two mountains that are part of the hiking trail are Mt. Katsuragiyama and Mt Hottanjoyama. The mountains are outside Izunokuni City.
Below, I’ve included the two cartoon-y maps that show the hiking trails.
It was a great hike. I started at the trailhead at the bottom right of the two photos, where there are three kanji symbols in a red, conversation-bubble shape. The time estimates on the map were pretty generous. The first split in the trail is to branch off to the right to the base of most of the rock climbing routes. I heard the climbers from the main trail. I stopped by to say hi to SMS and Chris, but there’s nothing particularly scenic here and there is a small amount of falling rock, so I don’t recommend sticking around here too long sans helmet.
The next split is to head to the right to get to the summit of Mt Joyama. I went to the top, where on the right is a little sign in English welcoming people to Wild Boar Gorge. This is mainly for the climbers who want to get to a few of the routes not accessible from the main route starting point. There’s nothing super scenic here apart from my awesome sunny spot vantage point where I read my book for an hour.
|Follow the lights from top left: Go left for hiking/right for rock climbing, this is the sign you will see when you pop out onto the road taken looking left towards the next sign. Here is a closer view of the sign across the street at the continuation of the trail. Finally, here’s the sign at the trail division for the peaks of Hottanjoyama and Katsuragiyama (I think!)
Then I was off to the real part of the hike. I went back to the main trail and headed to the left. There weren’t a lot of trail markers that I noticed but the path is very well-maintained. That said, I only ran into six other hikers that day. It was a great solo hike. I got to a road and looked to my left. I could see a white sign on the right and a cut-in staircase. This is the trail! Do not ignore the sign and decide to walk on the road for 10 minutes before doubling back…boring!
The next sign I came across was confusing. My best interpretation is that it is pointing the way to two different summits. Since I took the left way and ended up on Mt. Hottanjoyama, I’m assuming that the rightward way would have led me to Mt. Katsuragiyama. This interpretation is just a guess, but I’m fairly confident that it’s true-ish.
|Clockwise from top right: Gorgeous south-facing view from my sonny rock, view during my hike, flat observation point with grass and minimal tree obstruction, incredible water view (Mt Fuji is out of the frame to the right)
The views from the top of Hottanjoyama were spectacular. It was a gorgeous day and the view contained water and mountains, my two favorites. The two bottom pictures in the collage above are from the grassy, flat summit that is perfect for a picnic. I was given a delicious mochi-wrapped azuki ball from a nice older man who was part of a threesome hiking group. It was very oishi!
Then I headed back and met SMS and Chris at the wall. I climbed one pitch, which felt great. I’m glad I got on the rock for a little bit. I love climbing with SMS but I was happy hiking while he got to climb more on his level with a good partner. I’m hopeful that he and I can go back one day although I have to work on maintaining the rock climbing skills I’ve learned over the past year!