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October 24, 2013
Day 21 - Fukushima

Mount Azuma (ȎR) is a roughly 2000 meter tall volcanic mountain range northeast of Mount Bandai, along the border of Fukushima and Yamagata prefectures. It offers attractive hiking trails up to its various peaks and across breathtaking volcanic landscapes that present craters, marshlands and ponds.

Mount Azuma's most popular hiking trails are located in the east of the mountain range. In particular, the Azuma-Kofuji peak (1707 meters), a perfectly shaped miniature edition of Mount Fuji, is the star attraction and draws many climbers from spring to autumn each year.

Today's Report

Jododaira bog

This morning I woke up nice and early and had a good breakfast - although no toast - at Kirakuya ryokan and then drove with Sugimoto-san to the mountains, about an hour away from the village in which Ifm staying.
Fukushima prefecture is actually absolutely stunning. Obviously, in the Western world when you hear gFukushimah you instinctively cringe a bit and the last thing on anyonefs mind is the natural beauties of this area. But yet, itfs really beautiful. Huge forests, ski-slopes, tons of fields... Itfs really stunning.

Fukushima's stunning mountains

So we drove up to about 1700m. passing beautiful autumn forests, mist drowning us from time to time, and we got to Jododaira rest house, where we parked and from there started our 4 hour walk.
First, we walked through a big bog, truly stunning because everything in it was golden or bright red. From there we went up a mountain and walked around Kamanuma, a small lake, through big grassy (or bamboo) plains that were strangely similar to those of Ireland - and sadly we also had a bit of an Irish day on the weather front. Itfs actually been raining non stop since yesterday afternoon.

Azuma-Kofuji crater

From there we headed back down again, on very slippery paths. So slippery in fact that I fell and hurt my ankle, but Ifm sure itfll be fine by tomorrow.
Then we headed to the real highlight of the walk, Azuma-Kofuji crater a nearly perfectly round crater. Unfortunately the wind was very strong so we didnft walk all around it, but we got a fair glimpse of it, and of the beautiful valleys surrounding it.

The path to the crater

and inside it

The beautiful surrounding valleys

After that, we had a lovely warm udon lunch at Jododaira rest house and headed back to town. Unfortunately since then I didnft do much more than rest and put ice on my ankle, although I did just come back from a great dinner here at Kirakuya ryokan and am now heading up to the 4th floor to try one of their private onsen baths.

My little private garden at Kirakuya ryokan

Today's Program
Today's Walk: Through the volcanic landscapes of Mount Azuma

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Today's walk features fairly high altitude hiking trails, making two loops through the volcanic landscapes of the eastern Azuma mountain range. The journey goes past the beautiful Jododaira Marshlands, around the picturesque Kamanuma Pond, along nature trails that offer a plethora of mountain vegetation and brilliant scenery, and finally to the fascinating Azuma-Kofuji crater.

Date October 24, 2013
Start Time 9:30
Start Jododaira Visitor Center
Goal Jododaira Visitor Center
Distance 7 kilometers (about 4 hours)
Terrain Today's walk goes through mountainous terrain whereby proper hiking shoes are required. The journey is slightly challenging with lots of climbing involved. Parts of the journey are on elevated boardwalks, while others are on unpaved paths and rocky surfaces that require some dexterity to maneuver.
Weather Average daytime high: 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit)
Average nighttime low: 3 degrees Celsius (37 degrees Fahrenheit)
Weather Forecast for Fukushima
Access Rental cars are recommended to get to the base of today's walk because public transport is infrequent. Rental outlets can be found near Fukushima Station.

There are two buses per day from Fukushima Station that make a clockwise loop and stop at Jododaira (y) along the way. The ride from Fukushima Station to Jododaira takes 100 minutes and costs 1760 yen (departures at 9:50 and 12:50), while the trip back takes 75 minutes and costs 1290 yen (departures at 12:45 and 15:40).
More details on how to get to Mount Azuma

Lodgings Takayu Onsen, which lies just before the Bandai Azuma Skyline that leads to the hiking trailhead, has a few ryokan which provide accommodation. The alternative would be to stay at a lodging in Fukushima City.
Search hotels in Takayu Onsen through Japanican
Search hotels in Fukushima City through Agoda, or Japanican

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Daily Quiz
The deadline for answering the quiz question for day 21 has passed.

What is the toll fee for a regular car to drive along the Bandai Azuma Skyline?

0%   2100 yen
44%   1570 yen
3%   1050 yen
0%   945 yen
53%   None of the above

The correct answer is: None of the above

Originally a toll road, the Bandai Auzma Skyline was turned toll free after the 3.11 earthquake and was re-classified as a regular road in July 2013. It can be used free of charge.

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