Sunday, October 04, 2009

Yamashiro Shinrinkoen and Sanjouzan

We went out to a forest park today, Yamashiro Shinrin Koen (山城町森林公園), with the idea of just having a picnic and a short walk but that is not how it turned out. But more on that later. I don't know why I have not discovered this park before.  This park is less than 20 minutes drive from home yet we have only just found it.There is a small area for having BBQs and picnics near a river and walks through a forest and up a small mountain.


South of Kyoto, the Kizugawa river runs towards Nara and to the east of the river are a range of forested hills. I can see these hills in the distance every morning as I walk to the station and have often thought that there must be something interesting there. Each autumn we go to pick mikan (small oranges) there and we have driven through them to the pottery shops in Shigaraki in Shiga prefecture. The park is in these hills at the end of a long winding narrow road which passes through rice fields and small farms and up into the hills.

We arrived fairly late so after investigating the river and looking for chestnuts we sat down for lunch. While eating our bento we were visited by a small a small lizard who also seemed to be looking for his lunch as I later saw him munching on something in the grass nearby.



After lunch we decided to  go for a walk through the forest up the nearby mountain, Sanjouzan (三上山). The guide book we have calls it mikamiyama, which are the same Chinese characters but read differently. It also says it is 432m tall whereas the site linked above gives a height of 478m. Wikipedia has an entry for Mikamiyama (みかみやま) which is a 432m mountain in Shiga prefecture, so it looks likely that the author of the guide was rather careless about the information. If we had know that  before setting out we may have been more careful about our route.





The path up the mountain was a lovely winding path through the forest, rather steep but very pleasant walking, with the occasional sign post at intersections. Near the top we found some yama budo, a type of inedible wild grape which have an intense purple colour.




Reaching the top was fine, our problems started when we wanted to come down. The guidebook showed a road looping round back to the entrance to the park. We decided to follow that route and set of down the track. After going for some time it seemed that we were coming down the wrong side of the mountain and were no where near the park. We decided to ask some farmers harvesting rice and they confirmed were were in completely the wrong place. So we had to go back up the mountain and back down on a different route.

This long detour added a significant distance to the walk, but it did have one surprising bonus. On the way back up the track we came across some wild monkeys sitting on the path. Unfortunately they dissappeared into the trees before I could take a picture. I know there are many places in Japan which have wild monkeys, but I did not expect to find them to be so close to home.

The autumn colours have not yet arrived, but there was quite a log of susuki or fairy grass by the path. With the sun getting low in the sky, this susuki was nicely back lit making it glow.



We will definitely be back to this park, but next time we will try to get a proper map of the trails.

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