Japan, Day 6: Mount Gozaisho

At the Summit Park Station of Mount Gozaisho, a big map of the hiking trail and places to visit helped in guiding me where to locate the sightseeing lift.

When I got there, I got really scared of riding the lift. I already knew that there was no belt because I saw the picture in their official website but I was not prepared that it was a steep downhill ride, at least from my POV.

NOVEMBER 26, 2018

At the SUMMIT PARK STATION of Mount Gozaisho, a big map of the hiking trail and places to visit helped in guiding me where to locate the sightseeing lift.

When I got there, I got really scared of riding the lift. I already knew that there was no belt because I saw the picture in their official website but I was not prepared that it was a steep downhill ride, at least from my POV.

Then again, I was already there so why not ride it then see what will happen. I bought a roundtrip ticket for ¥600 then saw a group of obaasan and ojiisan (grandma & grandpa) in front of me, waiting for their turn to ride the lift. While waiting for my turn, one of the ojiisan turned around and told me “Kowai!!! Kowai!” while laughing. Thank you to all the anime I have watched because I understood what he said – it was scary. I laughed then replied to him in Japanese that I was also scared. When it was his turn to ride, I told him “Ganbatte!” (good luck) and he smiled at me.

Now, it was my turn and when the lift was about to follow the downhill trail, I held on tightly to the single bar at my left side and braced myself… only to feel nothing. There was no sinking feeling from my stomach! It was just slow and steady which made me understand why even kids are allowed to ride this.

It was a chill ride and I eventually found myself taking pictures without holding the bar.

At the first sightseeing lift stop, you can choose to go down there or just pass by. I was already set that I would just pass by here so I waved to the ojiisans staff and greeted them with “Ohayouuu!”

Upon reaching the last stop, I walked briskly to the summit marker (1,282 MASL) that I saw online. I asked a local hiker, who just finished smoking his cigarette, to take a picture of me.

Conquered another mountain but without much effort, lol

I was reviewing the pictures he took when he told me (in English) that there was another marker. He pointed to the trail near us and told me that that was where I should go to reach it. I said my thanks then he offered to accompany me. I accepted because I wanted to talk to locals, anyway.

While walking, he asked where I was from so I said PH then asked if it was my first time in Japan. I told him it was my 3rd visit but I have visited a lot of places already. I enumerated all the cities and towns I have been to, including the ones in this autumn trip. He said that he was amazed and called me a “Japan master”. LOL.

When we reached the place (Boukodai Lookout), he pointed to spots where it was best to take pictures of me. It was a bit of a challenge because there were parts where I had to use my hands to climb. I had to make sure that I wouldn’t slip since the cliff was just around the corner. Anyway – he took good pictures of me!!! T_T

He then pointed to a direction where he said that we could have seen Lake Biwa if it wasn’t for the cloudy weather. He pointed to a mountain range but I forgot the name he mentioned – all I could remember was he said that it was a well-known area.

When we were about to go back to the main area, he asked if it was okay to take a picture. I said okay and I asked if we could do the same using my phone. It felt weird though because we did not know each other’s names so I asked him.

His name is Sato and he told me that it was a common name in Japan. I told him that he has the same name as this Japanese actor that I liked: Sato Takeru. He was impressed that I know someone from the entertainment industry. I told him about the first J-drama where I saw Sato Takeru up to him being the main lead in Rurouni Kenshin live action films.

While we were walking, he showed me pictures from his phone – trees and other areas in Mount Gozaisho fully covered in snow. He told me that it was taken just a week ago when he hiked with his friends. I showed him the snow pictures I took earlier, and I told him that I thought it was just starting to form. It turned out to be remnants of the winter moment that happened recently.

Remnants of snow + Sightseeing lift without any belt

When we returned to the main area, we bowed to each other and said our goodbyes. He told me that going up the summit takes 2-3 hours, depending on your pace, and that was also the same amount of time needed to go down. I wished him luck for his hike going back to the base.

I continued my exploration but I kinda felt lost. All signs and arrows were in kanji so I already knew that I had to rely on my instinct when it comes to directions.

I picked a trail based on my gut feel and I eventually arrived at Suzuka National Park Monument. Near the marker, there was a small wooden bench for resting.

From afar, I could already see the Ontake Daigongen Shrine – the one which looks like a house – so I knew that my adventure was far from over. An ojiisan passed by and I was amazed how he could jog around the area, especially with the uneven trail and steps.

On the other hand, I was cautious with every step because if I stumble and roll down the steps, no one would save me and take care of my wounds. Haha! After following the next trail, I reached a rest area with a stone monument. It was inscribed with haiku but I only found out about it after the trip.

I walked some more and spotted a silver torii with a trail leading downhill. I followed it then saw a small pool of water so I knew that I was in Chouja Pond. There was no one else in the area so it was very quiet a bit eerie with all the trees.

The story related to Chouja Pond dates back to the Meiji Era when a man named Jintarou Yada became famous and rich for his touch which could completely cure any sick person.

I continued my adventure and there were a lot of uphill trails. Some of them looked straight from a fairy tale story, with a creepy forest in the plot.

Then after about 10 minutes of walking, I finally reached Ontake Daigongen Shrine (dedicated to the same deity as the one in Kiso-Ontake Shrine). I paid respect to the shrine then as I was about to leave, a family reached the place so finally, I was not alone. But only for a few seconds.

I was on a bit of tight schedule so when I saw that it was 10:40, I started to make my way back to the main area. The problem though was that I did not know how and I could already see fork roads ahead of me…

No choice but to trust my instincts which path to take for every fork road. I chose trails that seem to be nearer to the main area.

Cannot understand anything but this was the sign near the uphill trail going back to the main area

Gotta pat myself on the back because I was able to successfully reach my destination! Had I followed the paths I ignored, I would have taken the long trail going back to the Summit Park Station… which would take 30-45 minutes of walking. I took a last round of taking in the sights at the summit before heading back to the sightseeing lift station.

At the Summit Park Station, I went for a quick lunch before heading back to the base. I ordered curry udon as recommended in Restaurant Nature. The free ocha was the perfect pair for the curry udon’s rich flavor.

When I reached the cable car station, it was a surprise because the staff put 3 different groups in one cable car. I wish I could speak in somehow fluent Japanese so that I can converse with the obaasans and ojiisans in the cable car. ☹

Here are some more views from the cable car to wrap up this post:

Kansai, Day 6: Kobe – Osaka

Time for our daytrip in KOBE! After about an hour and a half of train ride, we reached Kobe-Sannomiya Station. We bought onigiri and bread for a quick breakfast before walking to our first destination – MAIKO MARINE PROMENADE.

It is an observatory located right under AKASHI KAIKYO BRIDGE, the world’s longest suspension bridge. Basically, it offers a beautiful view of the sea and it even has a small section where you can walk on the glass floor and see the waters below.

MARCH 11, 2017

Time for our daytrip in KOBE! After about an hour and a half of train ride, we reached Kobe-Sannomiya Station. We bought onigiri and bread for a quick breakfast before walking to our first destination – MAIKO MARINE PROMENADE.

It is an observatory located right under AKASHI KAIKYO BRIDGE, the world’s longest suspension bridge. Basically, it offers a beautiful view of the sea and it even has a small section where you can walk on the glass floor and see the waters below. Not for those who are acrophobic.

 

There are two main viewing areas in Maiko Marine Promenade – one is inside the building, which has tall windows and coin-operated binoculars for a better view of the sea and city. As for the other one, you have to go outside the building and walk right under the bridge.

We did not know that it would be open air so we could really feel the sea breeze on top of the very low temperature. Also, every now and then, the structure would vibrate because of the passing vehicles on the bridge.

 

 

Our next mission was to eat Kobe beef for lunch! STEAKLAND is a very popular resto for this but I cannot judge if it is the best one out there. Price is definitely cheaper than the other popular Kobe beef restaurants. They cook the beef right in front of you so be prepared to smell like grilled meat when you leave the place.

Since there were only three of us in the group, a couple was assigned to our table and the chef cooked the vegetables together then divided it to 5 servings. We had different orders on the beef / Kobe beef but the chef knows his craft since he knew what type of beef each one was. I enjoyed my food but I am definitely curious how the Kobe beef in pricier and popular restaurants taste, since Steakland has mixed reviews.

We went straight to ROKKO CABLE SHITA STATION after lunch – cable car to reach MOUNT ROKKO. There are a lot of places to visit in this area and we noticed some locals who brought snowboards. We were puzzled because it was already early March but apparently, there was still snow in Rokko-san Snow Park. Note that there is a schedule on the Rokko Sanjo Bus so better take note of that. We did not know about this so when we reached the cable car station in Mount Rokko, we took our time going around and when we went out, the bus just left and the next one would come in about 40 minutes.

Our bad luck did not end there though… We chose Rokko Alpine Botanical Garden but when we got there, the place was closed until end March. Most likely because none – or very few – plants had bloomed at the time of our visit. We had to wait (again) for a bus and it was really cooold up in the mountain.

We went to ROKKO-SHIDARE OBSERVATORY instead and the architecture looked really awesome. We took time going around plus we were surprised to see remnants of snow + frozen water in the area!

After our time in the observatory, we went to ROKKO GARDEN TERRACE which was just across it. The view of Kobe was definitely breathtaking and we were fortunate to have good weather on that day.

Since we were already hungry and I wanted to see Rokko-Shidare Observatory at night, we grabbed some snacks first. We were confused by the vendo machine for ordering because everything was written in Japanese. I could read hiragana and a few katakana but we were worried we might end up ordering the wrong food. A local went in front of us so we had to ask for his help in ordering the ice cream with Kobe honey. I got that plus akashiyaki, which is takoyaki dunked in hot broth – perfect for the cold weather.

While waiting for nightfall, I bought the famous Kobe pudding in a souvenir shop as well as Kitkat with Kobe pudding flavor. There were other food/snack choices that I wanted to buy but I decided to just limit myself and go with the most popular one.

When the sun had already set, the colorful lights in Rokko-Shidare Observatory were illuminated. It was a nice sight to see but it was not as awesome as I expected.

We went back to Osaka after this and had our dinner at ICHI, a yakiniku restaurant near our Airbnb – recommended by our host and apparently a popular place among locals. We ordered a lot of meat for our empty tummies and we enjoyed our meal here. Even though it was quite difficult to communicate with the language barrier, the staff was able to give us what we need.

That’s it for now. Next post is our adventure in Himeji! 🙂

 

LINKS TO OTHER KANSAI REGION / JAPAN 2017 POSTS:

Japan, Day 0-1: Kyoto (Higashiyama Area)

Japan, Day 2: Kyoto (Arashiyama)

Japan, Day 3: Kyoto (Fushimi, Northern Higashiyama)

Japan, Day 4: Kyoto (Central & Downtown)

Japan, Day 5: Kyoto >> Osaka

Japan, Day 7: Himeji >> Osaka

Japan, Day 8: Nara >> Osaka

Japan, Day 9: Universal Studios

Japan, Day 10 (AM): Ise-shima

Japan, Day 10 (PM): Ise-shima

Japan, Day 11: Osaka