Lake Miike, Miyazaki → 🌋 Takachiho-no-mine🌋 Mount Karakuni → Kakutō, Miyazaki

Map of the Kirishima Mountains with author’s route from Lake Miike to Kakutō highlighted. 🗺 Open map in GaiaGPS →

Blooming azaleas on the shore of round lake in the early morning light. 📍 Lake Miike, Miyazaki

Oh God, not another fucking beautiful day, to quote Alice de Janzé from White Mischief.

A landscape of rolling hills and a round lake, Lake Miike, behind blooming pink azaleas.

A Buddha statue half-concealed by trees.

A groundskeeper working with a leafblower walks across the large gate of a Shinto shrine. 📍 East Kirishima Shrine, Miyazaki

Nothing would dare disrupt the tranquility of East Kirishima Shrine on an early morning but flocks of songbirds and a groundskeeper with a massive gas-powered leafblower, doing what others might do with a rake.

A small bird perches on a bush.

A steep field of grass and scrubs on a foggy day.

The gate of a Shinto shrine on a windy, cloudy mountainside.

Wooden steps lead up the side of a mountain.

Clouds roll over a yellow-brown grassy landscape on a mountain. 📍 Takachiho-no-mine, Kirishima Mountains, Miyazaki

A thin, long line of soldiers climbing up the slope of a volcano, Takachiho-no-mine, seen from quite far away.

The same soldiers on their way up, one of them looking into the camera.

The soldiers march away from the camera, up the mountain.

Colorful scree on the slopes of the volcano.

Closeup of the bright green new shoots of a plant. 📍 Takachiho-no-mine, Kirishima Mountains, Miyazaki

In a literal assault on the mountain, troops are marched in full battle gear up the west face of Takachiho-no-mine. Every one of them greeted me as I skipped down the rainbow scree of the volcano. Down in the parking lot, I counted seven troop carriers.

The very chaotic-looking buildings of a public bath in the mountains.

The author in the tub of a hot spring with cloudy blue-white water, submerged to his nose, with a small Japanese towel on his head. 📍 Shinyu Hot Spring, Kirishima Mountains, Miyazaki

Fukada Kyūya, author of One Hundred Mountains of Japan, first climbed Takachiho-no-mine in 1939, and stayed at Shinyu, which he refers to as a rustic hot spring village”. It is now a cluster of slightly dilapidated buildings, but its translucent blue waters still make for a perfect, scalding dip on the way to the crater rim of Mount Karakuni, the highest point of Kirishima.

The head and neck of a deer skeleton on the ground.

Closeup of a bush with fresh buds.

A column of steam rises from a crater in the distance. 📍 Mount Karakuni, Kirishima Mountains, Kagoshima|Miyazaki

A mountain road shows tire tracks that hint at street racing. 📍 Ebino Plateau, Kirishima Mountains, Miyazaki

It may be Mount Haruna which made touge racing famous, thanks to Initial D, but a quick look at some of the corners on the road down from the Ebino Plateau, on the northern slopes of the Kirishima Mountains, leads me to believe the practice may not be restricted to the mountain roads and volcanoes of Gunma, where Mount Haruna is.

These Walking Dreams is a visual field diary of a 4,300-kilometer walk from one end of Japan to the other, in the spring and summer of 2017.