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Posts Tagged ‘Mt. Minetoko’

Mt. Minetoko is Kyoto Prefecture’s 2nd highest mountain but only just barely loses out to neighboring Mt. Minago by about 140 centimeters or so.

There are several approaches to the summit but the most interesting one is via a narrow gully to the southwest from a hamlet called Nakamura. It was up this gully that poster girl Eri and I trekked in mid-November while the autumn foliage was already in wane.

The initial approach is along an ubiquitous forest road smothered with dense cedar and cypress trees, but once you get onto the path proper the native foliage takes over. During the wet summer months, leeches hide in the undergrowth, seeking fresh blood from those brave summer hikers, but in the cooler months we walk freely without worry of blood loss.

Minetoko’s bald summit affords spectacular views of the surrounding Kitayama mountains but it isn’t the view that most people come for. Nestled just below the summit is a broad plateau of wetlands, Kansai’s answer to Oze if you will. The area is called Hacchō-daira and has been designated one of Kyoto’s 200 most beautiful places of nature. The fact that Kyoto even has 200 places worth putting on the list in impressive in itself, but why this did not make the top 100 is truly mind-boggling.

To get to the plateau, you first need to climb up to the adjacent ridgline. It was here that Eri and I stopped for lunch under the wild mistletoe growing in the hardwoods above. Readers will find it comforting (if not disappointing) that we did not partake in any western traditions that involve embracing under these bulbous parasites. Those looking for an authentic touch to the holiday season could come here to take away the real deal instead of settling for the mundane plastic version at their local 100 yen shop.

From the ridge, a broad track drops abruptly to the plateau. The clear autumn air and verdant sky transform the wetlands into a true work of art.

The ferns and underbrush grow brown as the fastly encroaching winter settles in. Hacchō-daira is named after the Hacchō dragonfly that frequents these parts, but none of the unique insects could be found on this crisp autumn day.

Such was the beauty of the marshlands that Eri and I could hardly put our cameras down. This is truly one of those magical gems that is seldom documented even among the Japanese mountain press. Yama-to-keikoku chose Minago in favor of Minetoko when creating the list of Kansai Hyakumeizan, but the mountain is included as part of the Kinki Hyakumeizan. I guess when choosing between two peaks so close to one another, many people opt for height. Perhaps by failing to put Minetoko in the spotlight, the guidebook writers were purposely wanting to savor this mountain for themselves.

Hacchō-daira is definitely worth a visit in autumn, but I just can’t help wondering what the area would look like in winter. With a pair of shoeshoes and a newly-purchased pair of snow boots, I am ready to find out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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