Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Ascent of Mount Misen - Miyajima, Japan

Summit looking back to Hiroshima
We had to cancel the Tokyo trip of the Japan trip because of radiation fears after the Tsunami. Instead we travelled South to Hirosima and after the challenge of visiting the peace museums it was good to head out via ferry to the peaceful island of Miyajima.
Torii Gate
As soon as the ferry left the mainland I could see the mountains on the island and inevitably I started to think about running to the top. The gateway to the island is flanked by the impressive Torii gate apparently one of the most photographed sights in Japan.
The first adventure after checking into the Ryokan was a cable car trip to the top of the mountain. It soon became apparent that other people had walked to the top along a tourist path. I was keen to walk down to see if I could run up the next morning. The path was well trodden, steep in parts with many
A Japanese "Snowden Cafe" on the summit
stone steps to upset the purists. It was clear that the route was safe and runnable and so I decided to try and get up before dawn and run to the summit to see the sun rise. I awoke at about 6.30am too late for sunrise but still early enough to run. I ran to the top at an easy pace walking up some of the stone steps.
I remembered the route from the previous day and my only concern was to look out for the mountain monkeys. I had been tipped off that they could be occasionally aggressively curious. I stopped briefly at the temple near the summmit. The temple was eerily quiet but it was good to stand on the decking outside inhaling the pure mountain air whilst  looking out across the pacific.
This was the first time I had run off road over seas (unless you count the Manx Mountain Marathon) and I was enjoying it. i reached the summit shortly afterwards. I hadn't seen anyone or monkey all the way up and in contrast to the previous day when the summit was full of

Tea in the Ryokan
tourists, I had the whole place to myself. I sat and appreciated the views until I started to get cold then I began the long decent back to sea level. There was a Buddhist praying in the temple when I returned and I paused briefly to appreciate his chant. It wasn't until I was nearly back to the village when the first walking tourist passed me on the way up. Miyajima's a beautiful, peaceful island. Its well worth the expense of a traditional Japanese Ryokan for an overnight stay. Running up Mount Misen is recommended, just watch out for the monkeys! 


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