Climbing to the Summit of Awaji Island’s Highest Peak, Mount Yuzuruha (607m) via the Ancient Path

The seasons have abruptly shifted into winter mode. I am not fond of the hot summer, so I am delighted by the crispness of the air, but the sudden change is quite a shock to the body.

This weekend, I visited Awaji Island for a grave visit. Following last year, I climbed Mount Yuzuruha again this year. Last year I approached from the dam side, but this year I tried walking the Yuzuruha ancient path from the seaside.

The road to the trailhead is a pleasant one along the coast, with hardly any cars passing by, but there are occasionally young cyclists enjoying Awa-Ichi (Awaji Island round cycling). Biwa-Ichi (Lake Biwa round) is also nice, but the sense of openness as you gaze at the expanse of the sea, imagining the joy of cycling through the breeze here, is wonderful.

The seaside approach seems to be the main approach to Yuzuruha Shrine, as there were quite a few town stones and Jizo statues. It seems that more climbers come from the dam side, as I only met one person climbing from the seaside on a Saturday. In the past, as the sign at ‘Kikuka store remains’ indicates, the area was bustling with people visiting tea shops. Now, with hardly anyone walking, the path has become eerily quiet. Looking at the Kikuka store remains, I felt a bit of sadness.

As you climb, you’ll arrive at Yuzuruha Shrine. There’s a forest of Akagashi (red oak) trees around the shrine, but many of them are dying due to pests, and I saw many trees being nursed and protected. My plum tree was also affected. It’s quite a task to protect trees from insects.

Figure skater Mr. Yuzuru Hanyu, who shares the same ‘Yuzuru’ in his name with the mountain, has visited Yuzuruha Mountain twice. Many fans also visit, and their efforts to save Hanyu’s related forest in crisis have been immense. A lot of donations were collected, and with the donation money, measures such as insect-proof nets have been implemented. The power of fans is incredible. I hope the Akagashi forest remains vibrant and healthy!

The summit is about 15 minutes further up from the shrine. The weather was good that day, and I could clearly see Shikoku and Wakayama. The mountaintop, surrounded by the sea, felt refreshing and relaxing.

Nearby Nushima island was shining beautifully. According a mith of Kuni-umi (the birth of Japan) the first island created by the deities Izanagi and Izanami was called ‘Onokoro Island’, and Nushima is considered a leading candidate for this mythical island. It’s only about a 10-minute ferry ride away, so next time I plan to cross by boat and hike around the island.

Instead of hurriedly traveling by expressway, this time I leisurely drove along the coastal road, watching the cyclists on their Awaji round trip. I've been here many times, but maybe because I never drove this road in the evening, I hadn't noticed the sunset of Awaji Island. It was mesmerizing, probably around the area of Goshiki. You can't enjoy the scenery on the expressway, so driving on local roads and observing the towns offers new discoveries and feels rewarding (^^). While time-saving is important for people these days, being too caught up in it can be exhausting. I feel a slower pace suits people better.

That's all for this blog post. See you in the next one!
Let's share this post !