Late Autumn Hike to Mount Tsurugi (1955m, Tokushima) and Jirogyu – Panoramic Views at Their Best

I went hiking to Mount Tsurugi and Jirogyu in Tokushima on the day before Labor Thanksgiving Day. I had actually planned to go the day after my last trip to Awaji Island, but the weather forecast for the next day wasn’t good, so I reluctantly gave up on the idea, thinking maybe next year. However, I really didn’t want to give up on Mount Tsurugi, a place I’ve never been to before, so I took a day off work and headed west again.
There was a cold wave over the weekend, and I was worried because of reports of snow and hikers having to park their cars midway even with snow tires. But on this day, although there were a few icy spots, I arrived at the MinoKoshi trailhead around 7:30 am without any issues. It was a weekday, so there were only a few cars, and it was quiet. The restrooms were already closed for winter, but there was a temporary toilet.
I started my hike after paying my respects at Tsurugi Shrine near the trailhead. Maybe because it was a weekday, and the mountain huts were closing the next day, I was the only hiker setting out at that time. Soon after starting, I spotted a woodpecker searching for insects on a fallen tree, a good omen.
There was no one camping at the designated area. It was insect-free and quiet, making for a pleasant late autumn hike. In areas where snow had accumulated and frozen, I walked with chain spikes on my shoes.
There was no one camping at the designated area. It was insect-free and quiet, making for a pleasant late autumn hike. In areas where snow had accumulated and frozen, I walked with chain spikes on my shoes.
The lift was not in operation yet, so the Nishijima Station was very quiet. The rock sanctuary of Otsurugi Shrine has a dynamic presence; it feels as though it could start moving at any moment and its presence is quite impressive. On the way down, I looked at the entire rock formation from behind the shrine, and it was a surreal landscape.
Viewing the sacred rock of Otsurugi Shrine from behind looks something like this.
The view from the summit of Mount Tsurugi is a stunning 360-degree panorama, and the summit was quiet and serene, with a divine atmosphere. According to someone who stayed at the Tsurugi-Hutte, the sunrise that day was particularly beautiful with a splendid sea of clouds.

The ridge line from Mount Tsurugi to Jirogyu offers a magnificent expanse, making for a delightful and enchanting walk. It's the kind of scenery that makes you want to skip along while humming a tune.
Mount Tsurugi is also known as 'Taro-gyu', and Mount Tsurugi and Jiro-gyu are considered sibling peaks, named Taro and Jiro respectively. By the way, 'Gyu' (笈) refers to a box that yamabushi (mountain ascetics) would carry on their backs, containing religious implements, Buddhist statues, scriptures, etc. It’s a rarely used character, but it’s good to remember.

Additionally, Tsurugi-san is also called 'Tateishi-san'. This is said to be because of treasures like the Hozo Stone near the summit and the sacred rock of Otsurugi Shrine, which are prominent and striking rock formations, giving the impression of guardians of the mountain.
It takes less than an hour to reach Jirogyu from Mount Tsurugi. At Jirogyu, the weather was clear, with not a cloud in sight, and snow-capped Mount Ishizuchi was visible in the distance beyond Mount Miune. A local man mentioned that in the past ten years, this was the first time he had climbed in such good weather. When I told him it was my first time climbing Mount Tsurugi, he smiled and said I was lucky to have 'beginner's luck.' Indeed, the serene scenery was truly healing. I'm glad I came.

While feeling reluctant to leave, I slowly descended the mountain, birdwatching along the way. I spotted a "Gojuukara" bluish-grey nuthatch busily climbing up and down a tree trunk, searching for food. The bluish-grey nuthatch is unique in Japan, as it's the only bird that can descend a tree trunk head downwards, thanks to its long and sturdy toes and claws. Since they live in forests, I had never seen one in the city, so this was my first encounter. It didn’t seem to mind my presence and kept tirelessly climbing and descending.
In the precincts of Tsurugi Shrine, there is a monument commemorating Tomiko Miyao's novel 'Tengai no Hana.' 'Tengai no Hana' is a novel set in the Mount Tsurugi area. It made me want to read it.
After descending the mountain, I stayed at a friend's house in Tokushima City, and the next day was for sightseeing in Tokushima. I climbed Mount Bizan, not realizing it was within walking distance from Tokushima Station. I was a bit surprised to find that Bizan was so centrally located in the city. It takes less than an hour to reach the summit from Tokushima Bizan Tenjin Shrine (next to the Awa Odori Kaikan). It seems like a perfect mountain for viewing the first sunrise of the year. The summit was full of blooming Tsubaki flowers.
After visiting Mount Bizan, I went to the Awa Odori Kaikan for a long-awaited experience of Awa Odori(dance) (^^). Then, I enjoyed Tokushima Ramen, fully savoring my time in Tokushima. Since it's not too far from Osaka, I’d like to visit more often for hiking and to enjoy delicious seafood. This time, I only paid 910yen for the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge (one way) and 580yen for the Naruto Bridge (one way), making the round trip on the scenic coastal roads. It's amazing what you can do when you try.
Lately, I've been thinking about traveling all over Japan just like this.
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