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October 7, 2013
Day 4 - Kirishima

Kirishima () is an active volcanic mountain range on the border between Kagoshima and Miyazaki Prefectures. It offers some of Japan's most fascinating volcanic landscapes and hiking with gracefully shaped volcanic cones and craters.

There are several hiking courses across the mountain range, although some of them are currently closed due to recent eruptions by Mount Shinmoedake. On the lower slopes of the Kirishima Mountains lies Kirishima Onsen, one of Japan's leading hot spring resorts, which offers high quality, sulfuric hot spring waters and an interesting variety of outstanding bath facilities.

Today's Report
 
Kirishima and where is Takachiho?

The single bath carved out of a tree trunk at Shinyu Onsen. The water has a lot of minerals that's why it is milky.

After a full dinner and an awesome soak in one of the outdoor baths last night (it was a beautiful starry night when there wasnft rain getting into my eyes), I woke up to dismal weather. However, the breakfast made up for the weather. It must be said that the food at Kirishima Miyama Hotel is beautiful. Every dish that came out seemed to be better than the previous. Not only is the food good, the staff are also very friendly, and the hot spring baths are great too!

All three outdoor baths at Kirishima Miyama Hotel.

One of the many dishes from last night's dinner, apple gratin.

Due to the bad weather, the hike up Takachino-no-mine was cancelled and was changed to the walk around Ebino Kogen. But even that was cancelled when my guide arrived. We started at the Ebino Eco Museum Centre, and learnt more about the creation of the area around Kirishima and the local flora and fauna. Words like gcrater lakeh, gcalederah, gmagmah, gtectonic platesh were heard constantly. It felt like a living lesson on geography! I left thinking that itfd be really interesting to be a geologist for a day (maybe a week).

The knowledgeable and friendly staff at Ebino Eco Museum Centre.

After that very educational tour at the museum, we left for a pit stop at Shinyu Onsen. Apparently, the waters there are one of itfs kind in Japan. Just 5 mins in the bath will leave you refreshed! I was in there for a little over 5mins and left wanting more. I canft really explain it, but the waters are definitely different to the one at the hotel. Youfll have to come and try it out for yourselves.

Shinyu Onsen from the outside. That's also onsen water flowing in the canal.

The mixed outdoor bath at Shinyu Onsen. Note how milky the water is!

We also went to a crater lake, that usually has a view of Takachiho. An interesting fact about the crater lake is that there are fish in the lake. How did they get there and where did they come from?

At a crater lake, with Takachiho in the background (visible in better weather conditions)

Moving on to Takachiho Farm, we had a chance to take a walk around and see some of the farm animals like cows and horses. They also have sheep there but we didnft get to see any. The cows at the farm produce milk that is used at the shop and restaurant. We also participated in a butter making class, which lasted a maximum of 10mins. Thatfs how fast it took to make butter!

Cows that produce the milk we can drink/buy at the farm.

Kids can experience horse riding at the farm too.

Finally, our last stop on this rainy day, my guides brought me to the nearby Maruo Waterfall. They explained the geological structure of the waterfall then brought me to see the top of the waterfall. It was all so interesting because the cross section of the waterfall was made by flowing lava over tens of thousands of years.

The lines behind the waterfall show how many layers of lava created the rock structure over time.

The top of the waterfall. If you cut down these rocks like cake, you'll find the same cross section like behind the waterfall.

Thanks to my knowledgeable guides, Nakamura-san and Ishikawa-san, I had a very educational and fun-filled day in the Kirishima Geopark area despite the bad weather. Thank you so much!

One of the two guides, Nakamura-san from Kirishima Geopark.

The drop is where Maruo waterfall starts.

Vending machines at Takachiho Farm, with special drinks like fizzy milk and a yogurt drink.

No pets at Takachiho Farm.

Milk ice cream! Tasted like.... milk.

Lunch was local chargrilled chicken with soba.

Kirishima mountain range hiding behind clouds.

Takachiho and Kirishima hiding behind those clouds.

At Shinyu Onsen.

Breakfast this morning.

Today's Program
 
Today's Walk: Climbing Mount Takachiho-no-mine

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Important Notice

Due to unfavorable weather, an alternative program will be carried out today. Instead of hiking Mount Takachiho-no-mine, we will take an easier walk around Ebino Kogen. Meeting location will be the Ebino Eco Museum Center at 9:30.

Today's journey is a challenging hike up Mount Takachiho-no-mine. The mountain, an important site in the creation story according to Japanese mythology, is where Ninigi no Mikoto, the grandson of the Sun Goddess, is said to have descended to earth.

The walk starts at the Takachiho-gawara Visitor Center. The trail up is steep and leads over loose volcanic rocks in a landscape that resembles that of the moon. Halfway along the ascent, we traverse the rim of a crater. At the summit, we will find the spear which Ninigi no Mikoto left behind upon arriving on earth.

Date October 7, 2013
Start Time 9:30
Start Takachiho-gawara Visitor Center (͌rW^[Z^[)
Goal Peak of Takachihodake (x)
Distance 3 kilometers one way (about 2 hours for the ascent)
Terrain The trail up Takachiho-no-mine is steep and covered in loose volcanic rock, which make the hike somewhat difficult and strenuous. Proper footwear, i.e. sturdy hiking boots are required. This hike is not recommended for casual walkers, but should pose no problems to experienced hikers.
Weather Average daytime high: 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit)
Average nighttime low: 8 degrees Celsius (46 degrees Fahrenheit)
Weather Forecast for Kagoshima
Access Because public transportation to the trailhead is very infrequent, a rental car is recommended to access today's starting point. There are three buses per day from Maruo Onsen via Ebino Kogen (т̍) to the trailhead (Takachiho-gawara Visitor Center), departing Maruo Onsen at 8:30, 10:30 and 12:30. The 8:30 departure from Maruo Onsen arrives at the visitor center in time for today's walk. In the opposite direction, buses leave the visitor center at 13:29 and 15:30.
More details on how to get to Kirishima
Lodgings Kirishima Onsen is an ideal base for the walk; there are a few accommodations at the hot spring town. More lodging options can be found in nearby Kagoshima City.
Search hotels in Kirishima Onsen through Booking.com or Japanican
Search hotels in Kagoshima through Agoda, Booking.com or Japanican

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Daily Quiz
The deadline for answering the quiz question for day 4 has passed.

The Kirishima Mountains once served as a filming location in a movie featuring which fictional character?

0%   Inspector Clouseau
0%   Indiana Jones
93%   James Bond
2%   Jack Bauer
4%   None of the above

The correct answer is: James Bond

A considerable portion of the 1967 James Bond movie You Only Live Twice was shot in Kagoshima Prefecture. Ernst Blofeld's base was located in one of the volcanoes of the Kirishima Mountains.

Current Standings: (after 30 days)

28 Points: Csabba, AlexanderStankov
27 Points: gladhiola, almoehi, ZoomX2, mikaelus
26 Points: Rabbityama, Proxy707

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