Japan is a mountain country. Most part of the country is mountains. That means Japan is the best country for hiking and mountain climbing.

Hiruzen Sanza in winter. From left, it is Kami-Hiruzen, Naka-Hiruzen and Shimo-Hiruzen, which is not seen clearly in the picture

In Hiruzen plateau in Okayama prefecture, I enjoyed hiking on three Hiruzen mountains. They are called “Hiruzen Sanza”, which literally means three combined mountains in Hiruzen. They are all around 1000 meters above sea level and good for beginners to hike. They are open all year, even in winter too. Make sure you have hiking gears on though. Hiruzen Sanza has various hiking routes so you can enter the mountains anywhere. Look at the picture above. From the left, it’s called Kami-Hiruzen, Naka-Hiruzen and Shimo-Hiruzen. Kami, Naka and Shimo as in their name refers to their locations. Hike from Kami-Hiruzen to Shimo-Hiruzen, or the other way around or only hike Naka-Hiruzen, it is all up to you. After hiking, enjoy local foods at the foot of the mountains!

In this post, I will take you to an amazing Hiruzen Sanza traverse.

I started from Shimo-Hiruzen. The route was Shimo-Hiruzen, Naka-Hiruzen and Kami-Hiruzen in order. And you will never believe this. Only after about 10 minutes hiking, there is a chain along the wooden stairs. I was very surprised and thought “Was it going to be tough…?” I was glad I had borrowed good gears to hike from my friend.

Chain suddenly appears. It is really steep.

It is so steep at first, but the condition of the path was really good. There are well maintained wooden stairs, so you can just keep going up and up. Then you will find an amazing view of the mountain edge. One side, beautiful mountain edge. The other side, the incredibly beautiful view of the town. I have no idea how beautiful it is in Autumn too.

Edge of Shimo-Hiruzen

Looking at the both amazing view, I lost track of time. I could not stop taking pictures and walked at snail’s pace. To the top of Shimo-Hiruzen, it did not take time. On the way to it, you will see a chain again a couple of times. You may feel afraid of not good conditioned steps with a chain, but my advice would be “Never look at your steps while climbing up with a chain”. I mean, it only makes you afraid. Just relax, hear birds singing, and feel breeze. Pay more attention to things around you!

Path from Shimo-Hiruzen to Naka-Hiruzen

On Naka-Hiruzen, there were no good paths! I could not see them because they were all covered with snow. I had to hike following the footprints of other people and exactly walked on them too. It was in spring and warm so the snow was melting. I fell off a few times.

It changes from season to season if it is crowded. I hiked in late March, there were still a lot of snow on the mountains, especially on Kami-Hiruzen because it is the highest in Hiruzen Sanza.

I was not sure if there were proper hiking path like wooden stairs because the pash was all covered snow, so maybe I was in a harder situation than the normal. Climbing Naka-Hiruzen was the hardest in Hiruzen Sanza for me. By the way, there are no benches or rest rooms on the way. Benches are only at the top of Shimo-Hiruzen and Naka-Hiruzen. Rest rooms is only at the top of Naka-Hiruzen. I had my lunch sitting the path, actually.

There were few people hiking there when I reached the top of Naka-Hiruzen. I only met three people during the 8 hour hiking. I met a guy at the top of Naka-Hiruzen and we talked. He came from Kami-Hiruzen and would go down Shimo-Hiruzen. Hiking the way on Kami-Hiruzen, there were much snow than Naka-Hiruzen. Of course, Kami-Hiruzen is the tallest. It was the same as climbing Naka-Hiruzen. Be careful of snow melting.

Going down Kami-Hiruzen, you see Mt.Daisen on the right. This is the tallest mountain in Chugoku region. It was amazingly beautiful. It was not farther than I thought. If it is green season, you will see the foot of Mt.Daisen so clearly.

Mt.Daisen can be seen far away

Then well maintained path appears. Go down it looking down Hiruzen area. Then you go into a forest. Walking through trees until the end of hiking. It took me 8 hours from Shimo-Hiruzen to Kami-Hiruzen.

Hiruzen area is famous for its Hiruzen yakisoba and milk from jersey. You might as well try them too after a long hiking. It will relax you and make you love Hiruzen more.

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2 Comments

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