Hello! Resident Yama Girl Caitlin here. Did anyone feel inspired to climb Mt. Seppiko after reading my column last month? This time I will introduce you to a slightly higher, but significantly easier climb. Mt Sengamine (千ヶ峰) is a 1005m peak in the Kanzaki district.
I set off at around 10am, along the forested Mitani course. The trail quickly became steep and after 15 minutes, lightly covered with beads of perspiration, I cursed my decision to go hiking on this humid July day. But this is the reality of hiking in a Japanese summer, so wiping myself off I continued. The first third of the hike skirts the edge of the multi-tiered, Mitani waterfall, and crosses over the water many times. I enjoyed hopping from rock to rock over the water, as it allowed a small respite from the heat and uphill battle. The path along the waterfall was quite damp and muddy, making it the perfect home for a hungry mountain leech. I caught one on my shoe, desperately searching for my skin, but managed to flick it off in time. If you do this hike make sure to wear long socks, and frequently check your boots for unwanted hitchhikers!
After half and hour or so, the path will veer away from the water and up a steep path through a pine and cedar forest. The path is relentlessly steep, with a series of ropes to assist your ascent. After about 15 minutes the steepness tapers off and follows along the ridge for a while. At this point I ran into a friendly obachan who complimented my hiking outfit, while reeling out the standard questions every foreigner living in Japan is asked on a weekly basis (where are you from, what are you doing here, how old are you, do you like Japanese food, and so on) she also warned me about not having a bear bell on my pack, which is something I had never thought about. I will definitely acquire as soon as possible! I enjoyed the conversation, in particular when she complimented my hiking outfit and told me I had a “cute head”, but my pace is much faster and we soon parted ways.
After that it was a final ten-minute scramble up to the summit. Unfortunately, it was an overcast day and the view below was shrouded by mist. I enjoyed the cool breeze and gobbled down a couple of well-earned onigiri, before heading back down the same way I came up. I basically ran down the whole mountain, partly out of fear of leeches, but mostly just because it’s fun. Overall, the hike only took about two hours, what a breeze! If you’re looking for a short hike, and live in the region I would recommend it.