July 13, after finishing my work assignment in Fukui City in Fukui Prefecture, I took a train to Echizen-Oono and stayed there overnight. Next morning I woke up early to catch 5:22 train. This train had only one car, looking like a bus, and I was the only passenger. I got off at Kadohara Station, a very small station, no station crew, no ticket vending machine, and half of the building was the public toilet!
I was planning to climb Arashima-dake, one of the “100 famed mountains of Japan (HYAKUMEIZAN)”, selected by the author Kyuya Fukada. It’s a fad to bag all of 100 peaks and many people pursue it in Japan. I am not interested in that, but Arashima-dake was the only mountain accessible from a train station as I researched the mountains in the area. It was 1,523M in altitude and the elevation I had to gain was about 1,000M. The total course time was 6 hours. Should be easy. Still it could be a daunting task to climb it on a hot and humid summer day.
I walked up to the national road, and after 20 minutes’ walk I found a parking area with a restroom, and a sign “ Arashima-Dake Trailhead” at 6:10. I followed the rocky trail winding up in the grassy plain and bushes for about 1 hour. Then the vegetation changed to deciduous trees such as beeches, the trail became dirt, making it more comfortable to walk on. One moment I could see a snow-covered mountain ridge far away, and I thought it might be “Hakusan,” (white mountain), one of the big mountain range in Japan. Then the sky was overcast and there was no view of distant mountains.
In two hours, I arrived at Shakunage Daira, a crossroad of several trails and I took the left trail to the Arashima-dake peak. The trail became steeper and I began to see other hikers from here and I felt a little better. By 10:20 I arrived at the peak of the mountain, took some photos although there was no view, and had a quick lunch. By 10:45. I came back to the trailhead at 13:45, and returned to Kadohara Station by 14: 25. I was in a hurry, as I was trying to catch a train at 14:46. If I miss it, the next train is 18:40. What a pressure!
I could return to Fukui Station, took out my luggage from a coin locker, changed my clothes and footgear so I looked like a business traveler. Then I took a limited express to Maibara Station, changed to Shinkansen there, and came back to Tokyo safely.
It was a fun day of hiking, but it could have been more exciting if I could enjoy a breathtaking view from the top, or the whole mountain had turned to red and yellow in the autumn.