The Dancing Girl of Izu Hiking Course / Izu no Odoriko (伊豆の踊り子ハイキングコース)

The hike to the Old Amagi Tunnel and Joren Waterfall is a decent half-day hike. It is possible to hike from the tunnel to the Kawazu Nanadaru Seven waterfalls.

IMG_0648

Total Walking Time: 6.5 to 7 hours, about 20km

Hiking to the Old Amagi Tunnel and Joren Waterfall is a decent half-day hike. It is possible to hike from the tunnel to the Kawazu Nanadaru Seven waterfalls.

This is an easy and well-marked course with good signage to guide you along. This is basically a long walk through some very lush vegetation. Good walking shoes are essential, a walking stick is not necessary. Bring water, food and snacks, a raincoat on wet days and a hat for sunny days. This particular trail is doable year round.

Access:

From Shuzenji station, take a bus headed for Kawazu. Alight at the Amagi Pass bus stop. The bus ride takes 43 minutes. The bus schedule is as follows: 6:25am, 7:16am, 8:05am, 8:33am, 9:18am, 9:53am

Hitting the Trail:

The trailhead starts at the bus stop. Follow the signs that lead to Joren waterall. After a 15-minute walk, you’d see the Joren waterall. At 25m high and 7m wide, it’s the largest waterfall in the Izu Peninsula. The landscape is lush and green in summer, yellow and gold in autumn.

IMG_0633

Song of Joren Waterfall

IMG_0631

Highest waterfall in the Izu Peninsula

IMG_0638

Stop to admire the wasabi farms along the way

IMG_0747

Wasabi patch

IMG_0672

Running water is necessary for growing wasabi

IMG_0836

IMG_0835

IMG_0675

Tarosugi, 450 years old, 53m tall with a circumference of 13.6m

From the waterfall, it’s a 2-and-a-half hour walk to the Amagi Tunnel. This historical tunnel is featured in one of the most famous books written by Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972), who was the first Japanese writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968. The Odoriko hiking course has been named after the titular character of his book “Izu no Odoriko”. Published in 1926, it is about a student from Tokyo who meets a group of travelling performers on the road and falls in love with a young dancer. Fans of the novel can retrace the steps of the nameless narrator and the dancing girl.

IMG_0829

We go that way

IMG_0708

Memorial stone to the author, Yasunari Kawabata

IMG_0710

Why is the tunnel famous? Completed in 1905, it is the longest tunnel that’s made entirely of stone from the Meiji period. The tunnel is 445.5 meters long, 4,1 meters wide and 4.2 meters wide, and cuts through the ridge of that divides the Izu Peninsula. This tunnel is no longer in use as a new tunnel had been constructed for vehicles. It is only open to foot traffic. On weekends, you could borrow a lantern to light your way. It is almost completely dark, even in the day, inside this famously haunted spot.

IMG_0718

IMG_0722

Can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel

IMG_0726

Cold and damp

IMG_0727

The way out!

From the Amagi tunnel, it is a 2-hour hike to the Kawazu Nanadaru waterfalls. The Kawazu Nanadaru waterfalls are a series of seven waterfalls which are really lovely to look at, especially after the rainy season, or in autumn when the trails are covered with autumn leaves. Take some time to meander leisurely around the Kawazu Falls at your own pace, to enjoy the refreshing and mesmerizing views and hypnotizing sounds of running water. Parts of the trail may be closed due to landslides and falling rocks caused by typhoons.

 

IMG_0830

IMG_0757

IMG_0816

IMG_0845

IMG_0789

IMG_0812

IMG_0779

IMG_0791

Daru daru dan dan suspension bridge

IMG_0828

Many bridges were crossed but none burnt, hopefully

From the Kawazu Nanadaru waterfalls, take a bus to Kawazu station or back to Shuzenji station.

IMG_0793

 

Additional Information: 

The Kawazu cherry blossoms bloom for a month from early February. They are vibrant and bright pink in colour and a hardier variant of the sakura. The whole town comes alive during the sakura festival when the flowers are blooming. There are food stands and night light-up of the cherry blossoms in the evening. It’s definitely worth a visit.

IMG_2462

Amagi (天城)

Situated in the east of the Izu Peninsula is a group of volcanoes that make up Mount Amagi. The highest mountain in the peninsula, Mt. Amagi stands at an impressive 1406m and its many trails give hikers choices on how to approach this mountain range.

This mountain range straddles Kawazu Town, Izu City, Higashiizu Town and Nishiizu Town. There are different types of landscapes – flat, treeless, scrubby and dry Mt. Daruma, in contrast to tall thin-trunked and majestic pine trees and lush vegetation, wasabi fields nestled behind barbed wire in muddy fields filled with running water and majestic waterfalls.

Given enough time, it is possible to hike across Ito City in the east, across the Naka Izu Area or Central Izu Area, and end up in the Nishi Izu Area or West Izu Area. This trail would start from the Amagi Touzan Iriguchi Trailhead in the east and end up at Mt. Sanagi-yama in the west, with Heda Port as the final destination. As this hike only covers day hikes, I have sectioned the trail into separate hikes.

IMG_0802

Waterfalls

IMG_0751

Wasabi

IMG_0754

Lots of water

IMG_0776

A walk in the forest

IMG_0837

Amagi Tunnel

There are many ways to approach the Amagi mountain range. There are options for short and long hikes.

Trail Option 1: Odoriko Hiking Course and Old Amagi Tunnel, plus Joren Waterfall and Kawazu Nanadaru Seven Waterfalls

Trail Option 2: Mt. Amagi Hiking Course

Trail Option 3: Amagi Pass to Funabara Pass

Around the Izu Peninsula

Additional Information: 

Along the Izu-Hakone train toward Shuzenji, you could stop at the Izu-Nagaoka station to see the Reverberatory Furnaces, which were built in the 1850s, and recently awarded World Heritage site status. These furnaces were built for casting Western-style iron cannon to strengthen Japan’s defenses in the Edo period. It’s a 30-minute walk from the station. Opened to visitors year-round, except on 31st December and 1st January.

Next to the reverberatory furnaces, you could pick green tea in summer. Or opt to pick mikans in winter. From the Izu-Nagaoka and Nirayama stations, you could head to one of the many strawberry farms to pick strawberries from mid-December until early-May. Pay a fee to pick and eat as many strawberries you can for a limited time. There are also many onsens and hotsprings in the ryokans in this area.

 

IMG_1127

IMG_1155

IMG_1140

Mt. Joyama (城山) to Mt. Katsuragiyama (葛木山) to Mt. Hottanjoyama (発端丈山) Part 3

IMG_2287

Mt. Katsuragiyama is a good spot for looking at sakura and momiji

IMG_2286

Take the path leading down onto the trail going to Mt. Hottanjoyama

From Mt. Katsuragiyama, take this trail toward Mt. Hottanjoyama. It’ll take around 90 minutes. En route to Mt. Hottanjoyama, allocate an hour for a detour to the Masuyamadera Temple. This mountain shrine is really pretty and has two old trees on its premises. The best time to visit this shrine is in autumn when the trees are crowned with red and gold leaves.

IMG_2329

IMG_2330

IMG_2332

Take a detour to Masuyama Temple

IMG_2337

IMG_2342

View of Masuyama Temple flanked by a very old gingko tree on the right and a very old maple tree on the left

IMG_2340

A tree needs some support too

IMG_2347

IMG_2349

Back on the trail, it takes 40 minutes to get to the top of Mt. Hottanjoyama and a really lovely view of Mt. Fuji. Enjoy a short break and the view before heading down the mountain toward Mito and the bus stop for the bus back to Numazu Station. It takes an hour and twenty minutes to get to the foot of the hill, but it’s best to allow for more time to stop for photos of the bay.

IMG_2352

Mt. Hottanjoyama

IMG_2382

View from Mt. Hottanjoyama

IMG_2395

View of the Uchiura Bay and Mt. Fuji

IMG_2400

Turn left to get to the Nakahama Trailhead

IMG_2401

The overgrown Mito Chuo trailhead

IMG_2402

Mt. Hottanjoyama hiking course

The coastal town is also really pretty, as is the bus ride along the coastal road. There are two buses to Numazu every hour. Even though, this is a sleepy little town, there is a large convenience store near the bus stop and a fish market for the freshest catch. The bus ride to Numazu station takes 40 minutes.

IMG_2405

IMG_2410

IMG_2422

Mt. Joyama to Mt. Katsuragiyama to Mt. Hottanjoyama Part 1

Mt. Joyama to Mt. Katsuragiyama to Mt. Hottanjoyama Part 2

Mt. Joyama (城山) to Mt. Katsuragiyama (葛木山) to Mt. Hottanjoyama (発端丈山) Part 2

Finding the trailhead:

From the exit at Ohito station, turn left to walk along the car park, cross the train tracks and keep walking until you hit the intersection of 2 major highways. Keep walking in a south-west direction, cross the Kanogawa river and you’d see Mt. Joyama jutting out of an otherwise flat landscape, to your right. Keep following the road until you see the abandoned Peace Hotel. The road leading to the start of the trail is behind this hotel.

Tip: There is a convenience store a couple of blocks from the hotel. Keep walking along the highway until you get to a traffic intersection, and you’d see it across from where you are. Stock up on snacks and water and visit the very clean restroom before you hit the trail. Walk along the small road flanked by rice fields, with the Peace Hotel to your right and Mt. Joyama within sight in the distance. You’d see a sign that says that the trailhead is just up ahead. There is a car park and a small cemetery at the trailhead. It takes around 20-25 minutes to walk from Ohito station to the trailhead.

IMG_2218

The Kano river is to your right

IMG_1119 copy

The abandoned Peace Hotel with Joyama in the background

IMG_1110

IMG_1107

IMG_2221

Almost at the trailhead

Hitting the Trail:

IMG_1079

The trail starts here

IMG_2223

Hiking map

IMG_2224

Start hiking up a rocky path, past an overgrown and unkempt bamboo grove, toward the first fork in the trail. This is a popular rock climbing site and you’d see climbers attempting to scale up the cliff.


IMG_1085 IMG_1091 IMG_1092

IMG_1165

Rock climbers

That should take around 35 to 40 minutes. At the fork in the trail, take a right turn toward the top of Mt. Joyama. The return journey from the fork to the top of the mountain should take at most an hour or less.

IMG_2231

Forest trail

IMG_2232

Gnarly trees

IMG_2233

A break in the trees

IMG_2234

Is that were tanukis live?

IMG_2247

Mt. Joyama

IMG_2245

First peek of Fuji-san!

Once you’re back at the fork, you could return to Ohito station or continue hiking to Mt. Katsuragiyama.

 

IMG_2228

Pick your trail – turn right to go to Mt. Joyama and turn left to go to Mt. Katsuragiyama

Take the trail away from Mt. Joyama and you’d notice that you are suddenly looking at very different trees from the trail to Mt. Joyama. The tall straight-trunked pine trees on your left are a completely different type of trees from those on your right. The reason for this is that you are standing on the juncture where two massive land masses collided to form the Izu Peninsula million of years ago. Imagine a moving island, with its own thriving fauna, propelled by earthquakes and underwater seismic upheavals crashing into the main island of Honshu. That was how the Izu Peninsula came about. There is a sign at the start of the trail explaining this in greater details. It’s pretty fascinating.

IMG_2251

Walk along this trail for 5 minutes, until you see a sign that says “Outer Mountain” or “Inner Mountain”. A kind soul had scrawled in permanent marker informing fellow hikers that the “Outer Mountain” trail leads to Mt. Katsuragiyama and Mt. Hottanjoyama. Turn left and continue onward.

IMG_2254

IMG_2253

Take the Outer Mountain trail to go to Mt. Katsuragiyama

IMG_2255

There are 500-year-old pine trees here

Walk until you see this sign Mt. Katsuragiyama.

IMG_2259

Decide if you wish to take it easy or take on a more challenging trail. For a leisurely and longer walk, continue along the main trail and it’ll take you 50 minutes to reach the top of Mt. Katsuragiyama. Or do what I did and turn right into the forest. This trail is definitely not easy to pick out and overgrown, and take note, it is steep. Follow the strips of coloured strips of ribbon guiding you upward. Some of these strips aren’t easy to pick out and you will have to scramble along, clinging onto trees and hauling yourself from one tree trunk to the next. A pair of gloves would come in handy here. Mid-way through the trail, I did wonder if I had made a mistake and looking down, I dreaded the thought of tumbling down back to the main trail. Did I mention I suffer from vertigo too? The good thing was, it was over in 25 minutes. I made it onto the top of the clearing and had a quiet spot to myself to enjoy the view. This side trail cuts hiking time by less than half, but it’s not for hikers who aren’t too sure-footed.

Tip: Do not attempt this hike if it had been raining or the trail is muddy. Landslides occur here quite often, and the winds are pretty strong.

 

IMG_2270

View from Mt. Katsuragi

IMG_2290

IMG_2279

The next piece of good news is that you don’t have to go back the same way you came from. Mt. Katsuragiyama is also very different from the rough-and-tumble trail you’ve left behind you. There is a park at the top of the mountain and it is accessible by ropeway. A return journey to Panorama Park on the ropeway costs 1,220yen. There is a shrine, cafeteria and gift shop at the park, mini climbing wall for children, and playgrounds for kids and fur kids. There is also a free onsen footbath with a really good view of Mt. Fuji.

IMG_2315

IMG_2316

IMG_2326

Soak your feet for free, while soaking in the view

IMG_2288

Playground for dogs

The view of Mt. Fuji is pretty spectacular and there is the 100 Jizo Power Spot. Soak up some power here and pray for good health.

IMG_2304

IMG_2309

IMG_2307

IMG_2305

Mt. Joyama to Mt. Katsuragiyama to Mt. Hottanjoyama (Part 1)

Mt. Joyama to Mt. Katsuragiyama to Mt. Hottanjoyama (Part 3)

Mt. Joyama (城山) to Mt. Katsuragiyama (葛木山) to Mt. Hottanjoyama (発端丈山) Part 1

Total Walking Time: 4.5 to 6 hours

IMG_2219

Located in Izunokuni in the Izu Peninsula, uou can see some of the best views of Mt. Fuji on Mt. Joyama, Mt. Katsuragiyama and Mt. Hottanjoyama. The hike is a pleasant long walk along the mountain range that connects these three peaks. The course is mostly easy and along a well-trodden trails, with add-on options including a walk in the park, a relaxing ropeway ride, and a really steep scramble up (and down) an unmarked trail, depending on what you fancy your hikes to be like.

Tip: If you do not wish to pack food for your hike, there is an option of stopping for a quick lunch at Mt. Katsuragiyama. There is a cafeteria serving hot food and vending machines at the Panorama Park. There is also the option of taking the ropeway from Mt. Katsuragiyama down the mountain.

I started from the central part of the Izu Peninsula, near the spa town of Shuzenji, heading westward toward the coast of western Izu. For this hike, I recommend starting from Ohito station and completing the journey at Mito, a coastal town along the Uchiura Bay. It is possible to complete this trail in reverse but this means you’d be walking with your back to Mt. Fuji and might miss out on seeing some really good views.

IMG_2246

The course is easy to moderate and accessible year-round. For the most part, this trail is well-trodden with hikers, and it’s mostly well-maintained and very clearly marked with signs. There is a section of the trail which is a little more challenging, but it’s optional. A walking stick could be helpful but not essential. Bring a hat, gloves, flashlight, snacks and water, mosquito repellent in summer. A shirt for a spring or autumn hike, your lightest and most effective sweat-wicking clothing and a sweat towel in summer (it gets very hot and humid), and a light jacket or windbreaker in winter.

Access:

From Mishima Station, take the privately-run Izu-Hakone train from Mishima Station (along the Tokaido line). Ohito station is two stops away from the last station, which is Shuzenji station. There are lockers at the station, but if you follow the recommended itinerary, you won’t be heading back to Ohito Station. Alternatively, you could opt to leave your bags at Numazu Station in the morning before going to Mishima Station to transfer to the Izu-Hakone train to Ohito.

Useful Japanese:

Numazu Station Numazu-eki 沼津駅
Mishima Station Mishima-eki 三島駅
Izu-Hakone Railway Izu-Hakone Tetsudo 伊豆箱根鉄道
Izu-Nagaoka Station Izu-Nagaoka eki 伊豆長岡駅
Nirayama Station Nirayama-eki 韮山駅
Ohito Station Ohito-eki 大仁駅
Shuzenji Station Shuzenji-eki 修善寺
Kano River Kanogawa 狩野川
Mt. Joyama Joyama 城山
Joyama Pass Joyama-touge 城山峠
Rindo Pass (Forest Trail Pass) Rindo-touge 林道峠
Mt. Katsuragiyama Katsuragiyama 葛城山
Katsuragiyama Pass Katsuragiyama-touge 葛木山峠
Panorama Park パノラマパーク
Masuyamadera Temple Masuyama-dera 益山寺
Mt. Hottanjoyama Hottanjoyama 発端丈山
Nagahama Trailhead Nagahama-touge 長浜峠
Mito Town Mito 三津
Uchiura Bay Uchiura-wan 内浦湾
Nirayama Reverberatory Furnaces Nirayama hansharo 韮山反射炉
Strawberry Picking Ichigo-gari 苺狩り

Mt. Joyama to Mt. Katsuragiyama to Mt. Hottanjoyama Part 2

Mt. Joyama to Mt. Katsuragiyama to Mt. Hottanjoyama Part 3

Around the Izu Peninsula

Mt. Kinkan (金冠山) to Mt. Sanagi (真城山)

Trail Option 2: Mt. Kinkan to Mt. Sanagi-yama

 Total Distance: 7 km

Total Walking Time: 4 hours

Instead of turning back from Mt. Kinkan, press on toward Mt. Sanagi. The trail isn’t as well-marked as the hike from Mt. Kinkan to Mt. Daruma. Parts of it are overgrown with grass. If you are unable to find the trail, you could walk along the winding road for vehicles that has been cut into the cliffs of the mountains. There isn’t much traffic along this way but it could get a little dusty. From Mt. Sanagi, you could choose to return to Mt. Kinkan, or descend Mt. Sanagi and head toward Heda port.

IMG_8378

IMG_8377

Lookout point

IMG_8379

Choose the overgrown trail

Choose the overgrown trail

IMG_8382

Or the coastal road with a view

If you're lucky, you'd see Mt. Fuji peeking out from above the clouds

If you’re lucky, you’d see Mt. Fuji peeking out from above the clouds

Mt. Kinkan 816m -> Mukou Pass -> Mt. Okuyama 761m (35minutes) -> Sanagiyama Pass (40 minutes) -> Mt. Sanagi-yama 491m (50 minutes)