Category Archives: Japan

Hiking Trails of Japan

Yufu-Dake in Oita, Japan

Yufu dake, aka  Bungo-fuji or Hakufu-dake is in the prefecture of Oita, Japan, in the north-eastern part of Kyushu, the southern main island of Japan.  The closest stop on the JR line is in Yufuin.  Take a bus or taxi from there.

The approach give you a good long look at the mountain’s twin peaks.  The false summit is on the right, the true summit on the left (as you approach).  Walk about a km or so across an open area before beginning to climb, gradually at first, through the humid forest.

After about 30 min or so, the trail opens into grassy switchbacks, but resist the urge to cut across.  Once in the crotch of the peaks, you can choose which peak to climb.  We took the true summit, and were ninja-ing our way up on chains which had been bolted to the side of the rock.   This part is not for the faint of heart.

The summit appears quickly once you reach the chains, and the top has incredible views of Yufuin and almost all the way to Beppu.  Our packs were primarily full of beer, and the Japanese people we met at the top, in their northface gear and gas stoves, were shocked that all we brought was a few beers.  By our standards, the climb was not too difficult, and we didn’t need anything that we didn’t bring.

One word of caution… it’s a long walk back into town if you miss the last bus.  trust us, we know.  and 2 sweaty, slightly drunk white guys are extremely unlikely to be picked up as hitchhikers.

There are tons of sweet, day peaks all around Japan.  This one was very close to our house, so we climbed it a few times.  Ask around for local peaks where-ever you might be.

Tug o war with a Loon and the fish who gets to fight another day!

When interviewing outdoors men and women, I usually have to interview them via the internet. With Bruce Merit, proprietor of the year round operational Osprey Lake Retreat located mid-way between Summerland and Princeton on the Princeton Summerland road adjacent to Osprey Lake and the Trans-Canada Trail, I enjoyed the real pleasure of getting to know him while at a local coffee shop in Kelowna.
After finding out about Osprey Lake Retreat online, the key motivators for this interview were the unbelievable wildlife shots that he has on his site, the array of services he offers in a backcountry setting and the incredible prices he offers them at. Osprey Lake Retreat is one Thompson Okanagan outdoor secret that I just had to learn more about…but before you rush to the phone for reservations, enjoy this entertaining and educational interview to get to know your host Bruce Merit, a little better…one more thing, ensure that you remember your camera!

When interviewing outdoors men and women, I usually have to interview them via the internet. With Bruce Merit, proprietor of the year round operational Osprey Lake Retreat located mid-way between Summerland and Princeton on the Princeton Summerland road adjacent to Osprey Lake and the Trans-Canada Trail, I enjoyed the real pleasure of getting to know him while at a local coffee shop in Kelowna.

After finding out about Osprey Lake Retreat online, the key motivators for this interview were the unbelievable wildlife shots that he has on his site, the array of services he offers in a backcountry setting and the incredible prices he offers them at. Osprey Lake Retreat is one Thompson Okanagan outdoor secret that I just had to learn more about…but before you rush to the phone for reservations, enjoy this entertaining and educational interview to get to know your host Bruce Merit, a little better…one more thing, ensure that you remember your camera!

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

My father was the first to introduce me to the great B.C. outdoors.
Apparently at the young age of 4 our family was camping in Yellowstone
National Park and my father had to man the fire all night and fight off the
bears.  One bear did take a swipe at the old canvas tent which required
major repairs.  At the age of 8 I was introduced to the Scouting movement
and joined Cub Scouts.  It was the 28th Thunderbirds which was the only Sea
Scout troop in Vancouver BC at the time.  Being the only Sea Scout troop we
were forced to compete in all the camporees and jamborees which really got
me outside digging latrines, making eating tables, outdoor showers and lean
2’s. I also spent the first ½ of the summers up the Sunshine Coast on Texada
Island with my grandparents and then the second ½ on my uncles farm helping
with the haying, castrating, vaccinating, and dehorning calves.  A wide
variety of activities that really opened my eyes to much of what the world
has to offer.

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

Growing up there was never one area that really stood out, I do remember
many weekends we were Steelhead fishing on Silver Creek up near Hope in the
60’s but for the most part our family would just pick another lake, creek or
area to explore and go!

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

One of my biggest Steelhead I remember catching at Silver Creek was actually
caught on the two large washers I was using for weight and not even on the
hook with the worm on it.  I chased it down creek for about 5 minutes
stumbling over rocks and boulders trying to tire this mighty fish out.  In
the end I beached it on a sandy area and was totally shocked that the fish
had gone after the flash of the washers and they had wedged themselves in
it’s mouth the whole time.  In the end I turned the washers sideways and
allowed the fish to fight another day.

Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

Being part of the Hayes Creek volunteer fire department there have been a
number of ATV accidents I have responded to which unfortunately most have
involved drinking and driving with many broken body parts and dozens of
stitches to fix.  A simple lesson that is not rocket science Don’t drink and
drive, even in the bush: it can be deadly!

The only time I have ever been lost was in the Shinjuku train station in
Tokyo Japan after just landing in Japan.  I walked around and around in the
underground tunnels for at least two hours not being able to ask anyone
where I was or being able to read signs I finally found the right train and
made it home totally exhausted and frustrated but made it just the same!
Next day I was able to remember some of the shops and eventually it got
easier and easier.  Really no different that being in the bush and you
remember a bent over tree or a pretty flower, it’s all pretty basic
navigating and being aware of where you are.  I find if you slow down enough
to enjoy the beauty of nature you will allows thing to really sink in and
you won’t get lost!

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

Living at Osprey Lake for over 4 years now there have been many unique
encounters with wild animals.  On many occasions I have had tug-a-wars with
the local family of loons.  Especially in the summer when the parents are
trying to teach their young to fend for themselves they really take the lazy
route.  Instead of teaching their young how to dive they will teach them how
to follow fishermen and then steal their catch.  Each year I loose a handful
of fish this way which goes to show you that even wild animals can learn new
tricks and after all we have to learn to be part of the food chain!  Just
don’t end up being a meal for a bear!

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or
multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

When ever I partake on multi-day events I have learned not to over pack.
Much like going on a vacation where you spread everything you think you
might want to take on a trip out on your bed and then go over it a few times
placing all the necessary items in the luggage(pack sack). See what fits and
what is really a must-have item and not a want-item.

What is your favourite outdoor website?

Has to be my own site, not only because I built it but Osprey Lake area of
BC is located just outside Princeton by 30 min, less than 90 min. from
Kelowna and less than 4 hours from Vancouver.  It has a diverse range of
outdoor activities from excellent fly fishing for wild rainbow trout,
kayaking, canoeing, snowshoeing, hiking, biking and wildlife viewing
.

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

MEC in Vancouver, good selection and decent prices.  Trout Waters is my
favourite fishing store in Kelowna

If you are a website administrator please add your url here.

www.ospreylakeretreat.ca

Hiking Tokyo - Japan with Maxine Nelson

Maxine Nelson realized early on a true passion for writing. A memoir is in the works for publication in the near future. Currently she writes about her passions for all kinds of music, the performing arts, and local events in her area.

I found one of her articles on hiking and was pleased when she completed an outdoor interview with me. Her tales of hiking to explore nature and find serenity amongst the temples in the mountains of Japan and South Korea are spell binding. Connect with Maxine Nelson on Twitter.

1.) How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

When I lived in Japan as a child going to Mt. Takao on school holidays, which is within the Tokyo metropolitan area. It is densely wooded with well-marked numbered hiking trails. That was my introduction to hiking.

2.) What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

The areas in Japan, and South Korea, where there are temples and shrines, usually in the mountains. It is so peaceful, serene, and quiet. You literally are communing with nature while hiking.

3.) Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

It was during the New Year’s holiday in Japan I went to the island of Miyajima, where the famous red floating tori (gate to a shrine) has been photographed countless times in books, travel posters, and other travel literature. There is a hiking trail that leads up to the top of the mountain on the island. I wanted to see the view from the top. Along the way I encountered someone banging on a gong. I went inside the shrine or temple to see what was going on. Lo and behold there was a priest in the middle of some ceremony. Whenever I’ve gone hiking in the past these temples are always so quiet and empty. It was startling to see someone there for a change.

4.) Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventu re and any lessons learned.

Thankfully no, I tend to hike where it isn’t so remote. I wouldn’t call myself an adventurous hiker.

5.) Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

I’ve seen some scurry about, but for the most part I only hike where a lot of people seem to come through on a daily basis. When you hike in and around temples and shrines, such as in Japan and South Korea, I always feel very safe and secure.

6.) If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

I went with a group to hike/climb Mt. Fuji during its climbing season in the month of July (and ends in late August). Most of us in the group did not make it to the top of the summit to see the sun rise. It was raining a lot. They discourage climbers not to go out when it rains, because the trails and rocks are very slippery. However, we did get to see the sun rise par tially and it was a glorious sight. What nuggets of wisdom I learned was to persevere and “make it work” like Tim Gunn always says on the reality TV show “Project Runway”.
7.) What is your favourite outdoor website?

LL Bean, they are the best and cater perfectly to my needs.

8.) What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

LL Bean (when in Maine) and Bill Jackson Shop-Adventure in Pinellas Park, Florida.