A Magical Misty Walk
Sometimes the memories you take away from a trip aren’t the ones you expect to and this is true of our trip to Mt Daisen. The intention had been that we were to hike for some 3 hours up Mt Daisen to the Daisenji Temple, a Buddhist Temple, and then we were going to spend the afternoon on a bike ride on the lower slopes so we got a feel for the rural landscape.
However, as you can see our plans were thwarted by the weather, one of those persistent drizzly days with a heavy mist, and the bike ride was cancelled. When I say drizzle I mean that fine rain that doesn’t seem much but you end up very damp, and it was chilly. A smaller than expected group of stalwarts set of into the engulfing mist to who knows where.
Mt Daisen, at 1729m high, is the tallest mountain in the volcanic range of Chugoku Region, located in the Daisen-Oki National Park in the west Tottori Prefecture of Japan. The Japan Guide says it is one of the top 100 mountains of Japan which gives you some idea of just how mountainous Japan actually is.
As you can see the lower slopes are heavily wooded, primarily with beech but also with some forms of conifers or pine (I know not which) and the odd acer and ginkgo around the religious sites.
As with so many high points worldwide it has accumulated religious and spiritual significance. The Daisenji Temple and the Ogamiyama Shrine, above the Temple, are connected by a series of trails along the lower slopes, although these are high enough on a cool damp misty day, at between 800 – 900m.
Whilst we were quite damp and had to shelter a few times of heavy downpours, we convinced ourselves that actually the mist really added to the atmosphere of the place as I think these photographs show. Due to the conditions we tended to focus on where we were stepping and our immediate surroundings so it was often surprising when shrines and other structures emerged from the mist.
I was particularly taken with these bright red lanterns which line the route just before the Shrine; they looked quite incongruous in the mist.
As you can see the paths and trails to the Shrine and Temple are all paved although quite slippery in the damp. However, as we discovered on hikes elsewhere on the trip, the popular routes, such as straight up to the temple, are paved but when you go a little of the trail, as our guide liked to do, you find yourself confronted which more precarious terrain
You can just see the plank that was our bridge over this stream which luckily wasn’t that deep but not something you would want to find yourselves falling into. Our hike ended surreally with a walk down a ski slope in the mist, almost blindly, with ski lift chairs emerging in front of us.
Despite the conditions I really enjoyed this day, it was our first non garden visit of the trip and away from the built sprawl and there were few people, unlike the temple gardens we had visited in Kyoto. The photos are also among my favourite of the trip, I hope you enjoy seeing them.