The Abe Pass. Go deep into the forest!

Exploring Shizuoka on foot is the best way to discover the city. One day last week, I had an occasion to look for one of the sources of the Abe River. We took a stroll along the stream and found it inside a rich green forest. The place is called the Abe Pass. 

First of all, let me explain the pass briefly.

The Abe Pass, a basin-shaped mountain pass, is located at the southern end of the Shirane Mountain Range which is part of the Akaishi Mountain Range between Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures. It had played a key role in trade and especially in gold-mining since the 16th century. The pass is also famous for its autumn foliage, and is covered with snow in winter.

Now, are you ready for walking? Let’s get started!

We began our field study at a hot-spring village called Umegashima, 40 Km north of central Shizuoka City.

Wild plants and flowers were abundant there.

This is a kind of thistle that is found around Mt. Fuji.

Let’s go deep into the forest!

The trail has been well developed.

Found fallen trees here and there.

Everything was covered with moss.

Thick moss felt like my fluffy teddy!

These were lichens. They are not related to mosses or any plants.

We walked across the shallow stream many times.

Sometimes we crossed it through wooden bridges.

Lovely haircap mosses!

This old tree is estimated to date back to the 18th century.

The water reflected the beautiful forest.

We almost reached the headwaters.

The sign said it was a source of the Abe River.

It was clean and cold.

Mosses on a rock.

First signs of the autumn.

The two elevated points can be seen on the side. I took this picture at the saddle point.

Finally, we reached the Abe Pass. It took us about an hour according to sign boards.

You can also walk up to the Mt. O- Pikkari. It’s a cute name, isn’t it?

It will take only 15 minutes to reach the place where many Shiro-Yashio trees are growing. These trees belong to the Azalea family.

Look at the fruit! It is Sarunashi, also called hardy kiwi or baby kiwi.

It is used for fruits liquor and jam. Did you know that it signify “temptation” in the language of flowers?

The tree reminded me of the tale of Timmy Tiptoes.

We found ourselves near the border between Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures.

Oitayameigetsu, acer japonicum, is a species of maple native to Japan. Actually, the Abe Pass is famous for its autumn foliage.

It was getting foggy.

Watch out! Don’t fall down.

This beech spreads roots as wide as its branches. 

Bears love to eat beech nuts, but they produced poor crops this year.

Found mashrooms  around the roots.

It was a beautiful, but a poisonous mashroom.

We walked along the trekking route.

I will pitch a tent and spend my days trekking through somewhere, sometime in the future!

Or I wish I could predict weather by observing coulds formations!

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Sabimeshi, a wasabi kick at Utsurogi.

Do you know Sabimeshi? It’s a bowl of rice topped with dried bonito flakes and grated wasabi, a pungent dish. Last week, I visited a tiny but busy restaurant serving this special bowl in Utogi, Shizuoka city. Utogi is the birthplace of water-cultivated wasabi. This is an article on a half day trip there. Hope you’ll like it.

How to get there:
Take the Abe line bus (bus#114) from platform 9, North Exit, Shizuoka JR Station. It takes about 85 minutes to Utogi-bashi bus stop. The restaurant is just in front of the bus stand.

Or it takes 75 minutes to the Domoto bus stop. The restsurant is about 30 minutes away from the bus stop on foot. Take a nice walk through the wasabi fields. In that case, take the #116 bus from platform 9.

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Get off at Domoto bus stop.

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Turn right and watch out for cars.

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Look at the wasabi fields.

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Take a closer look!

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Wasabi is in peak season from fall to winter.

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The sign says: They are closed on the third Tuesday.

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Go deep into the mountains.

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Still 500m to go.

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I finally reached the restaurant, “Utsurogi”.

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They sell leaves…

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roots…

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and flowers!

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It costs 250 yen for a bunch of flowers.

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The flowers are also edible.

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Local ladies work at the restaurant.

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This was my order: Sabimeshi set.

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Sabimeshi is a bowl of rice topped with dried bonito flakes and grated wasabi. Sprinkle a little soy sauce and chopped leeks then mix them up and eat. It really was yummy!

The Nihondaira walking trails 2: Museum course!

Sometimes I need to get out more and spend time in nature. But it’s not easy to take a long vacation to get my life back. That’s why I like hiking inside the city, just a short distance from my place to escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

The City of Shizuoka offers a variety of nature trails for residents and visitors especially in the Nihondaira area. It is 308 meters above sea level and is famous for its views of Mt. Fuji, Shimizu Port and green tea plantations. This scenic plateau has won the first prize in All Japan Tourists Spot Competition in 1980.

There are some nature trails around there. I tried The Museum course to feel the spring breeze the other day. This is a report on the trail leading to the mountaintop. Now, let’s lace up our hiking boots and hit the trail!

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Let’s start walking!

 

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First, walking down the hill slowly…

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Many sign boards will help you to walk.

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Then, found a tiny shrine in the woods.

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This shrine might be a Mountain God.

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It’s a tiny but a sacred building.

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Is that an Acacia tree?

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It’s a beautiful peach tree.

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Go straight to the Heitaku Temple!

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Spring flowers!

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It’s a Japanese rural scene.

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The school playground is on your right side.

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You will find green tea plantations on your right as well.

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Ok, keep going to the temple!

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The road slopes gently up to the temple.

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There is a sign at the junction of the two streets, right: to the spac, left: to the Heitaku temple.

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Pale pink plum tree.

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Early blooming!

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Double flowered!

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Now, got to the Heitaku Temple.

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Can you see the Aoi crest?

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Shall we go inside?

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No way, it’s a…

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A hundred stone steps stairway again!

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It’s impressive and venerable.

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White plum trees at the garden.

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Annual events are held here at the main building.

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Well, let’s get back to the trail.

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It seemed like a long, straight road…

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And it’s getting narrow.

 

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Did you find anything geological?

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Watch out your beer tummy! Me? I’m OK!!

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Turn left to the peak!

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Then turn right, go up the stairs again!

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Found the old borderline.

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Some residents enjoyed walking with their dogs.

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Signs showed we were on the right way.

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Finally, we got to the peak!

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It’s an early bloomer.

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Let’s walk around the park!

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Can you see Mt. Fuji?

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A beautiful view from the main observatory.

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This is a small green tea shop.

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You may take a tea ceremony at the garden behind the building.

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This is the heart of Shizuoka, my recommendation!

Shizuhata-yama walking trail.

Just got back from walking to explore the best trekking route in Shizuoka-city. I slipped once, fell down twice and lost my way in the wood three times today! What a day, I never learn… Anyway, I will prepare a topographic map next time!

Well, this is a brief outline of this walking trail. First of all, catch a bus from #9 platform at Shizuoka JR Station then get off at Akatorii-sengen-jinja bus stop(10 minutes/¥190). Off course you can walk all the way to the bus stop, 30 minutes required. After arriving at Sengen-jinja, take your time to walk around the park. Actually, there are 7 shrines there, and all buildings are classified as national important cultural property.

There is a so-called “a hundred stone steps” stairway in the park. After climbing up the steps, you’ll find a small shrine, Hayama-jinja and Shizuhata-yama ancient tomb. This is the starting point of this walking trail. And then after a 3-hour walk along the ridge of the mountain, you’ll reach the Kujira-ga-ike pond!

OK, let’s start walking!

All set?image

Watch out the wild boars!image

The sign shows you are on the right way!image

More signs!image

That big building is Rinzai-ji temple.image

A flat path continues for a while. image

I passed some hikers on this narrow path.image

Walk over the routes!
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You are on your way!image

There was a castle here long time ago!image

Look at the palm tree! It seems I were in a southern island! image

Found Peter at Mr. MacGregor’s garden!image

Walking up the low steps!image

Look at the great view!image

A green tea field!image

I met an old gentleman here. He looked at me curiously, and said “Are you walking alone? Take a great care!”image

look at the plateau.image

Can you see the second Tomei expressway in the distance?image

Asabata-yusui-chi, a flood control basin is on your right.image

There were some bees and I was so afraid that they were going to sting me!image

Spider webs blocked my way many times…image

You are on the right way, don’t go back!image

Go girl, go!image

This is the Abe River.image

Which way should I go?image

Found Fukunari-jinja.image

It is surrounded by big trees.image

Finally reached the Kujira-ga-ike pond!image