Sunday, 13 April 2014

Winter hiking in Japan : Mount Kintoki

On a clear and calm day,there are nice hiking courses for good walkers and beginners which we would like to recommend.  For example, walking along the halfway course of Lake Ashi (15km), climbing Mt.Komagatake (1300m) and Mt.Kami (1,400m), hiking from Hakone Yumoto to Lake Ashi(10km), getting the panorama view of Mt.Fuji from Mt.Kintoki(1200m).

Starting point: Kintoki Tozanguti Bus StopDistance : 4km(Via Yagurasawa Pass)Required time : 160minutesAttractions : A great view of Mt.Fuji

It was a nice sunny morning, and 4 of us met at Hakone Station at 9:30. I think Hiking to Mt. Kintoki (Mt.Kintoki (金時山) is 1213 meters in height and the highest peak of the outer rim of the Hakone crater) is one of the most popular courses in Hakone area because of the spectacular views (Mt. Fuji, Lake Ashi, South Alps, Yatsugatake) and Onsen (hot spring). We took a bus from Hakoneyumoto station to Sengoku for about an 30 mins for 1300 yen, and started to hike from Kintoki Jinja Guchi. Mt. Kintoki is a great hike, as well as a culturally important mountain. It is the legendary home of Kintaro, a magical boy. There are many trails to access the mountain, and some of them can be pretty challenging. Additionally, there is a bus pass offered by the Hakone Tozan bus that covers all of the bus stops with access to the mountain.

Started our trip with Kintoki Ginja ( Kintoki shrine, which is dedicated to Kintaro (金太郎). Kintaro is a legend that originated on this mountain. It’s about boy who was born with superpowers, and who has a bear as his friend. According to the legend, this mountain was his playground.) visit and then moved to our winter journey towards top...
Miss Taeko Komiyama, 13-years old girl, started to help her father to run a small hut at the top of Mt. Kintoki (1,213m). She was happy until her beloved mountain guide father died in an accident when she was 18 years old. 
She decided to live alone in the one-room hut and serve Japanese tea for mountain climbers. 
A single girl living alone atop a Japanese mountain has one problem in common with a single girl living alone in a Manhattan apartment--men with idea. 
Whenever she encountered those men, she run away, climbed a tree and wait until they gave up, or otherwise she fought against them with Judo. She was a devout Christian and loved literature, although she practiced Judo for self-defense. She was loved by the mountain climbers as "Kintoki Musume (Daughter of Mt. Kintoki)".
In the winter of 1954, a murderer under death sentence escaped jail and climbed the mountain with, he later confessed, the definite intention of "becoming famous by killing the famous Kintoki Musume". 
Taeko tells the story.
He burst into my house at night and before I knew what was happening, he was stabbing for my throat with a wicked-looking knife. I suffered some cuts before I was able to knock him unconscious. Then blood streaming from my cuts, I ran down the mountain to the village.
This brave act brought her fame, and people talked about her, "She must be a reincarnation of Kintaro (Mr. Kintoki Sakata)", and loved her more than before.
She is now 61 years old (see the photo), and still young serving Japanese tea to mountain climbers at her hut of Mt. Kintoki.

It was interesting that Lake Ashi was tiny and unrecognisable at the beginning, but it became bigger and bigger as we climbed higher. There were some rocky places with chains/ropes, but still easy to hike for most people. After an hour and half of the hike, we finally reached the summit of Mt. Kintoki. 

We were very fortunate because we were able to see Mt. Fuji. This energized everybody and we had a perfect lunch, drinking sake with cold wind blowing by looking at the highest mountain in Japan. At the summit, there are two restaurants where you can get some food and warm up. We shared a glass of beer with my friends to praise our accomplishment. After spending an hour there we leave back taking long way of around 2 hrs downhill towards otome guchi...

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