Mt. Yubune (Yubuneyama) 1041m
This is the “point of no return” and if you decide to continue with the hike, it is better to complete the entire course. At this point, you are on the Minesaka pass（峰坂峠）. Because this trail isn’t well-maintained, you may have to pick your way through fallen trees, especially after a typhoon. You may have to deviate off the path to avoid a giant pine tree blocking the way. Just make sure you look out for the pink ribbons which park rangers have tied to branches to make sure you are going the right way. It is easy to get lost here. If you are relying on your compass, the direction is to the East. The terrain is at a gradual decline and you are heading downward. Wearing layers that are easy to peel off is preferable. A section of Mt. Yabune has been cordoned off and you are walking around the parameters of the training grounds for the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF). You will know that this area is strictly off-limits because it is surrounded by barb wire. You might hear some distant booms when the JSDF is conducting one of its training sessions. Don’t be alarmed. If fact, the sound of explosions is a good indication that you are heading in the right direction. Make sure you don’t enter the restricted area.
I have been told that there are bears in this area. Fortunately, I’ve never seen one on one of my hikes but I’ve seen paw prints in the mud.
Tip: Remember to look behind you occasionally to look at Fuji peeking out above the mountain ridges.
Minesaka pass leads to Yozuku pass（世附峠）as you make your way to the next peak. You may notice that you seemed to be heading downhill for some time and congratulating yourself that you’re out of the woods. Almost, but not yet. There is one final hill to conquer and its name is Mt. Furoh.
Mt. Furoh (928m)
At the Yozuku touge clearing, there is a fork in the road. Unfortunately, the trail has been destroyed by a typhoon so it isn’t possible to hike to the Furoh waterfall (Furoh no Taki). There is only one choice and that is to head up to Mt. Furoh.
First, rest up. There is a conveniently situated wooden bench for you to rest your weary feet and have a quick drink of water. Then, peel off extraneous layers on you and put them away. Next, gird your loins and prepare to get a good aerobic workout as you ascend the hill.
The elevation isn’t steep, to be honest, but somehow, this part of the hike really wears me out. The hill just seems insurmountable. At the midway point up, there is a sign that tells you that people who climb this mountain will not grow old. I’m sure it’s there to make you feel better as you are huffing and puffing and getting all sweaty. I am pretty sure that the hikes up Mt. Furoh have taken years off of my life. That’s the secret to not growing old, huh? I’ve tried every strategy I can think of – taking measured and slow steps or simply taking a huge breath and running up the trail; getting distracted by deer prancing elegantly up the cliff ahead of me tauntingly. Nothing has worked and I can say this part of the hike is probably my least favourite. Anyway, the only way to go is up and you will eventually make it to the top, and you will see…this view.
If you arrived just before sunset, you will see a really beautiful panoramic view of Fuji and the setting sun to your left. The view is breath-taking. One day, I will do this hike in reverse and enjoy traipsing down this mountain.
Kintokikoen and Suruga-Oyama Station
At this point, you are on the last leg of your journey. You are still not completely out of the woods. That would be Kintoki Park (closest point to civilization) and 6.3 km to Suruga-Oyama station. From where you are, it is 9.3km to the train station. It gets dark really quickly, so try to exit the trail before it is completely dark. There are no lights at all. Allocate at least an hour to leave the trail and reach the park.
As you descend Mt. Furoh, you will see logging activities and trees that had been hewn for timber. Your goal is to make your way to the gravel road which is used for transporting timber before it gets completely dark. You should be able to see this road from your higher vantage point. Lumberjacks have tied their own coded ribbons to the areas which they had chopped down trees and to warn each other about sudden drops off in the hillside. Be extra careful you don’t accidentally plunge down the side of a slope. Part of the trail had been washed away by landslides and typhoons. Navigating toward the gravel road is slightly challenging. It is advisable to do it while it is still light out. Look out for narrow dirt tracks that looked like steps have been carved into the ground. There should be several sets of them. Look out for small signs which say “Mt. Furoh”. These may have fallen to the ground or hidden by foliage.
Once you are on the gravel road, walk along it down the mountain. Watch out for the sign indicating the turnoff toward Kintokikoen or Kintoki park. The road takes a winding path down the mountain until you reach a fork. Take the left turn at the fork. This leads you away from the gravel road and onto a dirt trail. After walking for 10 minutes, you will arrive at the entrance to the park. There is a sign that tells you that it takes 45 minutes for an 83 year old person, who is walking at a slow pace, to get to the station. Remember that Japanese old folk are very sprightly and could possibly outrun you.
The park is a lovely spot to sit in during sakura season. You could rest your weary feet, eat the last of your snacks and enjoy the cherry blossoms in Spring.
Wild animals: I have seen snakes slithering into the undergrowth and deer bounding up the mountian. I have also come across what looks like paw prints made by a bear. Animals usually steer clear of you. You could get pretty close to the deer if you are quiet.
Mt. Yubune -> Minesaka touge (40 minutes) -> Yozuku touge (25 minutes) -> Mt. Furoh (15 minutes) -> Kintokikoen (75 minutes) -> Suruga Oyama Station (20 minutes)