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!”
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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.
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.
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.
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: