Sean's Japan Travel Journal
by Sean, staff writer of

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2012/06/27 - Hiking at Mount Azuma

We planned for this one. We waited till the weather would be undoubtedly good; when the skies would likely be clear. Today was the day.

At 3:30 in the morning we hit the roads, setting off for Mount Azuma in Fukushima to do some hiking. It was as forecasted a beautiful day. Our target was to conquer three peaks of the mountain: Issaikyo (1949 meters), Higashi Azuma (1975 meters) and Azuma Kofuji (1707 meters). By 7:00 we were at the Bandai Azuma Skyline, a scenic road which leads to the starting point of the hiking trails at Mount Azuma.

We could see the crater of Azuma Kofuji as we neared the foot of Mount Azuma
Clear skies when we arrived at the Bandai Azuma Skyline
Use of the Skyline is usually charged, but it is currently kept free to encourage tourism
Across a bridge
Scenic drive
Curving roads

A few cars were already at the parking lots when we arrived. At 7:15 we started our hike up to the Issaikyo peak, with the company of fresh air, light breeze, nice morning sunshine and lovely tweeting birds. Occasionally we crossed paths with fellow hikers, and exchanged greetings with them. A simple "ohayo gozaimasu! (good morning)" always invokes nice feelings and makes the hike more enjoyable for both parties.

Fellow hikers
On the way up Issaikyo Peak
Monument to celebrate fresh air, at the summit of Issaikyo
Crater of Azuma Kofuji
View of Goshikinuma from Issaikyo Peak

The hike up Issaikyo was great, but the view at its peak was even more amazing. At 9:15 we reached the summit, and we could see clearly the crater of Azuma Kofuji - breathtaking. To the north was Goshikinuma Lake, and its deep blue color made for a very nice complement to the greenery and the bright blue of the sky. We sat down on some rocks and there we had our breakfast, with the gorgeous scenery lying right before our eyes. After the rest, we continued towards our second goal: the peak of Higashi Azuma.

We passed by Kamanuma Lake along the way
Chinguruma flowers
Nice landscape
At 10:00, the number of hikers started to pick up

The hike up Higashi Azuma was considerably more difficult due to slippery surfaces, steep elevations and some muddy sections along the trail. The narrow path also made it more difficult to traverse. The dense greenery obstructed views of the scenery below the mountain as well. However, for us and several others who made the effort to make it to the top, we were rewarded with good views of Mount Bandai and the Urabandai Highlands.

Approaching the peak of Higashi Azuma at 10:50
Monut Bandai on the left, and the lakes of Urabandai at center and on the right
Fukushima City seen from the summit of Higashi Azuma

As we were decending Higashi Azuma we came across a group of twenty-odd old men and women making their way up. It was also the same time whereby perfect views of the Azuma Kofuji crater and Okenuma Lake to its right could be seen. I declared to Schauwecker: "Look! It's bucket numa!" It was meant as a joke, because "oke " means "bucket" or "pail" in English. The old men and women were bewildered when they overheard me and asked me if it was really called "Obakenuma (Ghost Lake)", and I had to hurriedly correct myself.

Okenuma Lake on the right of the Azuma Kofuji crater
Natural sulphuric gas steaming out from the ground

After conquering two peaks, we were finally left with our final goal of the day. The ascent of Azuma Kofuji was the easiest of the three, because the trail was nicely fitted with wooden stairs. It was almost 13:00, and by this time a healthy crowd was seen climbing up and down the steps. At the top, we circled around the crater and the experience was awesome.

And so we met our targets by 14:00, and were ready to head back home, but not before stopping along the way at the Urabandai area to take some pictures.

Interview on the crater
Walking around the crater
Inside the crater
Road coming up the mountain
People made rock formations. The number of cars indicate the number of fellow hikers
We stopped by Lake Akimoto on our way home
We stopped by Lake Bishamon on our way home

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List of Posts:
2014/05/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hakodate
2014/05/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsumae
2014/04/23 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fujigoko
2014/04/17 - Cherry Blossom Report: Takato
2014/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fujigoko
2014/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2014/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino
2014/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hikone
2014/04/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2014/04/05 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsuyama
2014/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2014/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto
2014/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2014/03/06 - Shopping around Northern Osaka
2014/01/23 - Nikko in Winter

2013/12/31 - Sean's Travel Highlights 2013
2013/12/06 - Kamakura Report
2013/11/26 - Tokyo Report
2013/11/22 - Kyoto Report
2013/11/21 - Miyajima Report
2013/11/19 - Korankei Report
2013/11/18 - Kyoto Report
2013/11/11 - Sakurayama Report
2013/11/08 - Karuizawa Report
2013/10/29 - Nikko Report
2013/10/18 - Nasu Report
2013/10/17 - Nikko Report
2013/10/14 - Mount Fuji Report
2013/10/10 - Oze Report
2013/09/27 - Alpine Route Report
2013/09/13 - Nakanojo Biennale 2013
2013/08/07 - Exploring Tokyo 2: Around the Tokyo Imperial Palace
2013/05/20 - Tottori Sand Museum 2013
2013/05/07 - Fuji Shibazakura Festival
2013/05/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hirosaki
2013/05/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kakunodate
2013/04/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kitakami
2013/04/23 - Northern Kanto Flower Report
2013/04/17 - Cherry Blossom Report: Takayama
2013/04/12 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsumoto
2013/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
2013/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino
2013/04/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Gunma
2013/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2013/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/03/31 - Visiting Shodoshima for the Setouchi Triennale 2013
2013/03/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/03/27 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2013/03/26 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nagoya
2013/03/25 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2013/03/21 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2013/03/12 - Tokyo Early Cherry Blossom Report
2013/02/17 - Tokamachi Snow Festival
2013/02/16 - Zao Snow Monster Report
2013/02/15 - Yokote Kamakura Festival
2013/01/10 - Winter Visit to Manza Onsen
2013/01/02 - Tokyo New Year Report

2012/12/31 - Sean's Travel Highlights 2012
2012/12/11 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2012/11/26 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/25 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Takaosan
2012/11/16 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/15 - Autumn Color Report: Shosenkyo
2012/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Yamadera
2012/11/06 - Autumn Color Report: Naruko
2012/11/05 - Autumn Color Report: Hiraizumi
2012/11/01 - Autumn Color Report: Kuju
2012/10/26 - Autumn Color Report: Minakami
2012/10/24 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2012/10/16 - Autumn Color Report: Norikura
2012/10/12 - Autumn Color Report: Oze
2012/10/09 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2012/10/05 - Autumn Color Report: Route 292
2012/09/28 - Autumn Color Report: Kurodake
2012/09/27 - Autumn Color Report: Kogen Onsen
2012/09/26 - Autumn Color Report: Asahidake
2012/09/17 - Exploring Tokyo: Gate Bridge
2012/08/20 - Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2012
2012/06/27 - Hiking at Mount Azuma
2012/06/18 - Legoland Discovery Center opens in Odaiba
2012/06/18 - Hydrangea Flowers in Kamakura
2012/06/04 - Tokyo Skytree
2012/05/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sapporo
2012/05/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hakodate
2012/05/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hirosaki
2012/04/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hirosaki
2012/04/29 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kakunodate
2012/04/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kitakami
2012/04/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hiraizumi
2012/04/25 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sendai
2012/04/24 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukushima
2012/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
2012/04/14 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hiroshima
2012/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2012/04/06 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2012/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto
2012/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kagoshima
2012/03/22 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2012/03/08 - Plum Blossom Report from Kairakuen, Mito
2012/03/07 - Trip to Iwaki, Fukushima
2012/02/21 - Plum Blossom Report from Tokyo
2012/01/30 - Skiing in Inawashiro, Fukushima
2012/01/27 - Kusatsu Hot Springs