Photo above: On the slopes of Mt. Hijiri, Mt. Fuji in the distance.
There are times when you can’t believe that some places exist. Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya—big cities all unimaginable while stood at the summit of Mt. Hijiri (聖岳・3013m).
Having spent countless hours cycling alone in the countryside I thought I knew what it meant to be remote in mainland Japan. But then I started hiking.
Last week at the summit of Mt. Shiomi in awful weather I was confident I’d hit peak ‘remoteness’. But then on a whim and desire to complete my August goals I set off for Mt. Hijiri in the southern part of the Minami Alps bordering Nagano and Shizuoka prefectures which quickly redefined what, on a personal level, being alone and remote meant.
The drive alone took 3 hours, followed by a 6 kilometre mountain bike ride to the trail head. From there it was another 45-60 minute hike to the Toyama River crossing where I had to pull myself across on a rope pulley cable car. After that add another 4 to 5 hour steep hike to reach the summit. And no water between the river and the Hijiri Lodge, just a relentless 2000m climb through dense forest in the summer heat.
But it was worth every minute.
It was physically exhausting but mentally refreshing.
Mt. Shiomi was also difficult but I was never alone there. Other hikers were plentiful, especially on the return journey. But Mt. Hijiri? I had the summit to myself for almost an hour and I only counted a handful of other hikers all day, including one trail runner in her twenties that ran – ran! – up and down the mountain.
There really is nothing quite like being alone in nature with no phone signal or connections to daily life. If the pandemic, global warming, or countless other stories from around the world are getting you down at the moment try getting out in nature, alone and remote. It’ll do you good.
There’s a short video of the summit and map below and the route with elevation data and times can, as usual, be found here on my YAMAP account.