Kobushi & Ryokami


It was not easy to leave the warm futon at 3:30 am and trudge out with Hana in the cold pre-dawn to pick up the rented car, the air broken only by the clattering of the newspaper delivery motorscooters. The logistics of getting to and from the mountains appear once again to be harder than the actual climbing. The start of the Kobushi trail two hours later was deserted. In the quiet stillness of the morning, the mountain looked foreboding, wreathed in thick cloud and with a desolate air. Zero degrees and in running gear. I ran along the rindo to 西沢山荘, where the hut had that unloved, abandoned feel (it was), and changed into spiked IceBug shoes; those Swedes know how to handle winters!

“Hayai desu ne,” grunted a solitary elderly hiker, clad in de rigeur checked shirt, plus-fours and long woolen socks. At this time of the morning the crust was still firm and the going fast. There was just one hairy part in the short exposed dip before the peak where the snow had an ice covering and both Hana and I started to slide off the ridge. Was that a look of momentary panic in her face? The same look as at the beach last year, when a wave carried her out to sea!

Once back at the rindo, several young couples were out walking in the morning sunshine. Their presence was reassuring. Mmm . . . I will never have the mental strength to be a hard-core solitary climber.

In contrast, Ryokami felt alive, the trail well maintained with beautifully crafted fresh signposts, and scores of hikers. No excuse for stopping, other than to take pictures at the top as the first flurry of snowflakes confirmed the forecast, and to get down quickly to the onsen at the michi-no-eki. Perhaps some of that gasoline tax is well spent after all.

Half-way home at last. Time for an Achilles treat.

5 thoughts on “Kobushi & Ryokami

  1. Nice site. You have a pretty impressive dog!
    Do I understand correctly that you hiked Kobushi-dake and Ryougami-san on the dame day? 2 Hyakumeizan in one day! That’s a nice feat.
    By the way, are you also aware of the Hanameizan Hyakusen (花名山百選), a ranking of Japan’s best 100 mountains for seeing flora? Before I clicked the link, I wondered if it had some connection…

  2. Thanks for the positive feedback, KamoshikaBob. I’m sorry I could not reply to you earlier; I have been in Kyushu and Shikoku for a week, which I will write up soon. Yes, the dog and I did do Kobushi and Ryogami in one day. Hana seemed in better shape than me, but there is a risk of pushing border terriers too far, because they don’t complain or stop. I chose a BT for this reason, and also because she fits within the less than 50 cm length and 10 kg rules of the apartment block we live in!

    I did not know there was a 花名山百選 but have seen various other top-100 selections (waterfalls, tasty water, best sights, scenic roads, etc.). Do you know if these have all been spawned by Mr. Fukuda’s original Hyakumeizan, or was he copying the top-100 concept of something else?

  3. Hi,
    I’m not sure where all these top-100 lists came from, but I have a feeling that Fukada Kyuuya’s “Nihon Hyaku-meizan” was one of the first. I’ve only read a few parts of his book, but in the introduction, he mentions other experts who had made lists of the best 3, best 7 mountains, and though it seems he didn’t start out with 100 in mind, that’s what he ended up with, and his book became a bestseller. As far as I know, these other lists (there is also a top-100 list of sakura spots) are determined by committee, usually some kind of NPO. When Fukada published his book, he expected others to come up with other lists, and for there to be some healthy discussion, but the mountain-climbing public just took his seminal work as is, and so his selection stands as the Nihon Hyakumeizan. Being just one man, and having his own opinions about what makes a great mountain (he valued folklore and history regarding mountains), and having climbed them before all the ropeways and other commercializations came along, there may be some mountains that seem “questionable” to today’s hikers (especially the expactriate ones). There also were a number of worthy mountains that Fukada left off of his list, so somebody (or some committee) has come up with a Ni-Hyakumeizan, and I have even seen references to a Sanbyaku-meizan.
    I haven’t finished reading about your adventures down south and west, but look forward to doing so. I live on the Nagano-Niigata border, near Mt. Naeba, so when you come to this area, let me know, I would be happy to help if I can.

  4. Thanks for that insight, KamoshikaBob. It’s somewhat of a pity that Fukuda-san’s list has also attracted the interest of the road tribe and construction ministry. I didn’t realize that he weighed the history and folklore in his selections, so I will look forward to learning more when a translation of the book eventually comes into print.

    With your location and vill.sakae ISP, I guess you are near Bastish. Has fresh snow fallen recently on Naeba? I plan to be up there and neighboring peaks the weekend after next.


  5. Does Bastish refer to Kevin Cameron? Yeah, he moved here to Sakae last October. No new snow on Naeba, put plenty of the old stuff. The access road up to 3合目 doesn’t officially open until the end of May. Incidentally, I’m planning a day trip to Oze on May 10.

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