Myoko + Hiuchi – A rare encounter

After driving over from Amakazariyama last night, I had had just 3 hours of attempted sleep while the rain threatened to drill holes in the roof of the car. In the half light, the air hung heavy with exhaustion after the frenzied rain fight of the night. Although there were many cars around for this popular mountain, there was no sign of stirring yet, so I got onto the track quickly and started up this double hill.

Myoko and Hiuchi come as a pair, forming a triangular route instead of the usual piston, with two huts perfectly spaced whichever direction you choose to do the loop. Most people spend at least one night, but the total maptime is less than 15 hours. I chose to knock off Myoko first as the descent from Hiuchi when tired would be easier.

Hana sensed something was up long before I could smell it. Ears pricked up, head forward, a sudden tautness of the body, and visible agitation. I scanned the surrounding forest on both sides, but the sasa grass was tall and impenetrably thick. Crash! Something was moving fast just ten metres ahead, blurred movement, blackness, and then a large bear lumbered out onto the trail in front and smashed back into the undergrowth. What a privilege to see such wildlife in Japan! For a while thereafter, I kept calling out to alert it to my presence, but it seemed just as keen to avoid further confrontation.

6 thoughts on “Myoko + Hiuchi – A rare encounter

  1. yeah, I’m kind of jealous because I’ve never seen one either. The ones on Honshu are relatively harmless, yet garner such a notorious reputation because they come down into villages in the Autumn and pillage the farmers crops.

  2. I used to think that I wanted to meet one, until up in Shiretoko, where a higuma circled my tent for about 90 minutes one long, long night.
    Too scared to get up to pee, I ruined a perfectly good water bottle.

    Careful what you wish for…

  3. Higumas are no joke, especially those in Shiretoko. Were you camping at the Rausu col, where there is a bear-proof food locker? A local told me that earlier this year, a higuma pawed the tent of two sisters who camped there. Perhaps they ruined their water bottles too.

  4. A condensed version of the story can be found in the second half of this post:

    That day is in general was no laugh. I’d already gotten turned around on the peak by fog, only to be led down by Brocken. Waltzing with Brother Bear was the last thing i wanted to do on that exhausting day. Ironically, the last thing my girlfriend said to be when I set out was, “Don’t Die.”
    “Gee, OK honey…”

    (Really enjoying your stories, by the way.)

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