Rewind to the summer of 2006. My first foray into the northernmost region of the main island and I was on a mission. Knock off as many of the Hyakumeizan as possible in a 10-day period without a car. Here is how the trip went:
Day 1 – Ferry to Aomori, bus to Sukayu hot spring. Climbed Mt. Hakkoda and soaked in the baths. Hitched over to Mt. Iwaki and stayed on the summit.
Day 2 – bus to Hirosaki, train to Rikuchusato, hitched to Hachimantai, strolled through the marshlands, hitched to Hachimantai hot spring and camped.
Day 3 – Climbed Mt. Iwate via the Nanatsu-taki trail, bus to Morioka and stayed in a cheap minshuku.
Day 4 – bus to Hiratsuto, climbed Mt. Hayachine via a long, seldom used route on the northern face, bus back to Morioka, shinkansen to Akita, local train to Kisakata, camped on the beach.
Day 5 – Bus to Hokodate, climbed Mt. Chokai, stayed at Hokodate hut.
Day 6 – bus to Tsuruoka, stayed at a cheap minshuku (my first day off!)
Day 7 – bus to Gassan 8-chome (via Mt. Haguro), climbed Mt. Gassan, descended to Yudono shrine, climbed back up to the ridge and down to Gassan ski resort and camped there.
Day 8 – hitched from Gassan to Kotera-kosen, climbed Mt. Asahi and stayed at emergency hut below the summit.
Day 9 – climbed Mt. Asahi, watched the sunrise, descended to Asahi-kosen, ate the most delicious bowl of soba in my life, took a well-needed bath, shared a taxi to Aterazawa, train to Yamagata, bus to Zao Onsen, hitched to Katta-toge, stayed in the emergency hut.
Day 10 – climbed Mt. Kumano, descended to Zao hot spring, soaked in the “dai-rotenburo”, bus to Yamagata, stayed in a cheap minshuku and collapsed from exhaustion.
Day 11 – bus to Niigata, ferry to Sado Island, enjoyed the Earth Celebration before heading back to Osaka.
I’ll write about each of these days as separate chapters in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more…