Yesterday (Saturday, June 30) I traveled from Tokyo to Mount Daisen – a distance of almost 750 km – to prepare for this morning’s climb of Mount Daisen. It rained all afternoon, but the weather forecast suggested a two-day clear weather window approaching, and I wanted to be in position when it arrived.
I spent the night at a lovely, welcoming temple – Sanraku-so – which sits immediately adjacent to Daisen-ji, at the base of Mount Daisen.
Although I fell asleep listening to the wind howl around the temple, I awoke to a spectacular sunrise/moonset that promised a beautiful climbing day.
And beautiful it was.
After breakfast at the temple, I strapped on my faithful day pack, Blue (because she’s the beta in this relationship…) and headed off to the trailhead, a five minute walk from Sanraku-so.
The first two hours of climbing consisted mainly of wood-and-earth steps set into the mountainside. The path curves upward through a spectacular old-growth beech forest (an unusual ecosystem in Japan) filled with birdsong and the trilling of cicadas.
Once I reached the sixth station, the beech forest gave way to lower, scrubby trees and plants, and the views opened up all the way to the ocean.
One kilometer from the summit, the trail changed yet again – to protected grasslands. Since the plants are protected by law, there’s a raised boardwalk hikers use to reach the summit. (Stepping off the boardwalk carries a fine of up to 500,000 JPY – the equivalent of $5,000 USD).
Although the lower slopes were hot and sunny, clouds hovered over the peak of Daisen, and the wind blew hard across the grasslands. At times, I had to hang onto the rope along the boardwalk in order to keep my balance.
Three hours after entering the trailhead, I stood atop the summit of Mt. Daisen – my thirteenth hyakumeizan!
I took a break on the summit to eat the delicious lunch box Sanraku-so prepared for my hike. Three rice balls, some mountain pickles, and an orange jelly snack. From left to right: leaf-wrapped rice ball stuffed with umeboshi (pickled plum), rice ball with mountain herbs, and nori (seaweed) wrapped rice ball stuffed with pickled mountain flowers.
Every one delicious!
The return hike took just about three hours, but I didn’t hurry along the way. I stopped to take photos, enjoy the views, and visit the Shintō shrine near the base of the mountain. Afterward, I stopped into the Montbell store for an ice cream cone, headed back to the temple, soaked in the onsen and took a well-deserved nap!