10 September 2010


The next mountain was Mt Ibuki, the tallest peak in the Kansai area, accessible from Osaka on a day trip. With an elevation change of more than 1100 metres, it should not to be taken lightly, but as mountain climbs go it is not so difficult. From the summit there are nice views across Lake Biwa and as far west as the Hira mountains. To the east, on clear days, you can see the Japan Alps. Apparently, Mt Ibuki sees a fair amount of precipitation. My day started with a blue sky with sparse clouds, but it darkened and eventually rained.

The trail starts behind a shrine going through a thick, wooded area that leads into an exposed slope which in the winter is used for skiing. Although it was early September, the droning of cicadas rang through the trees. Once I reached the grass-covered slope, this sound was replaced by the clicking of grasshoppers. Further along, as the path levels, the air was filled with birdsong. The trees thin out shortly after passing the last ski lift station, and the trail steepens as it climbs the west face of the mountain in a series of switchbacks, allowing nice views of Lake Biwa.

There was no solace to be had when I reached the summit, as it was host to several tacky souvenir shops and a surprising number of people milling about. This is explained by the massive parking lot on the east side of the summit--far more people must visit by car than on foot. It is hard to blame them as this mountaintop offers an easy escape from the summer heat and humidity of the neighboring cities.

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