Monday, 27 April 2015

Wrath of the Rain Gods – 20th April 2014

I awoke at 7am after a great nights sleep. For the first time camping out on this trip things were not going bump in the night around my tent. I took my time packing up, cooked the last of my noodles by the river and made some coffee I had received from one of the guys at the mountain hut. It was much better than the stuff I had been drinking before that I had brought from Indonesia.

The clouds were already looking menacing by the time I left, a sign of what was to come. I head down towards the township of Miho next to Lake Yamakita, and while I was picking up some food in a small shop it started to rain lightly. The shopkeeper warned me that it was going to continue all through the day and all through the night. There were several ways I could do this part of the track. My goal was to get to Lake Nakakawa. At first I intended to take the most direct, yet steepest and most secluded route directly over the mountains. With the weather in question though I reconsidered and decided to follow a mountain road that would take me most of the way, and then take a shorter path over range. I reasoned that if the weather got too bad I could flag down a car and get out rather than being trapped on a mountain. I put on my rain gear and off I set.

The road took me through my first tunnel of the trip with a nice wide sidewalk in it. 

I have been through Japanese tunnels with no footpath and don’t care to have that experience again if I can help it. I walked past a bunch of workers cutting down trees on the side of the cliff. It’s funny, in Japan whenever there is public service work being done there are as many people directing traffic and pedestrians, as there are actually doing work. They were all very polite and wished me luck in getting over the mountains in the rain. The road then took me around Lake Yamakita with some nice views:

As I moved further up the road the more dilapidated it became. Chunks of concrete and gravel were missing from the cliff side of the road, and large rocks and logs were often obstructing the way. It was obvious no cars were going to be moving up and down using this way. Then I came to this rock slide:

There is meant to be a road there

Someone had tied on a rope so I could shimmy across. A bit stressful, particularly in the rain, but I survived. After getting across to the other side I saw this strange creature that I honestly can’t say what it was:

Mysterious Japanese mountain creature

It had the hind of a goat but the head did not really match. We just stared at each other for a while trying to figure each other out. If anyone knows what this animal is I would be interested to know.

It was around this time that the rain really started to come down. As I walked up the road it poured down harder and harder until it was absolutely torrential. I had been going for a good two hours like this before I found a small concrete hut that provided enough shelter to cook lunch.

I then walked another two hours straight because there was simply nowhere to stop. No shelter whatsoever. Eventually I had to sit on a mossy log, in the rain, in order to give my legs some relief. By the time I made it over the range I was drenched. Although I have good wet weather gear, there is no way to keep that amount of water out for an extended period of time. As I was coming into the outskirts of the town Yamanakako, I took shelter in an abandoned building that was filled with junk and organised my things:

There are abandoned buildings all over Japan. I guess one explanation could be their rapidly shrinking population.; simply not enough people to occupy all the buildings, particularly in small towns.

On taking my Ipod out of my “waterproof” pocket I discovered that the screen had filled with water. It was sad to admit, but it was finished, the end of a friend that has kept me happy for the last 4 years.

I walked a little further down the road that led into Nakakawa and found this:

Yes, the road was completely flooded, and there was no getting around it. So I was walking ankle deep in the stuff for a good kilometre or two. I suppose it didn’t matter that much because I was drenched from head to toe already. I must say there was something fun about it though, like being a kid again. It didn’t matter how much I splashed because I was already drenched, so I splashed away!

With the level of saturation I was experiencing by the time I got into town, camping was not really an option unless I wanted to be completely miserable. The rain was coming down as hard as ever. So I tried to find a place with internet to book a room somewhere, but to no avail. I then just aimlessly wandered around town looking for places to stay. I went to about six places before I found one that was actually open. The staff seemed a little reluctant to let me stay at first, but I think they took pity on me when they could see the desperation of my situation. One moment I was in the rain, next I was in a nice warm tatami mat room with a bath and shower.

 It even had a foot massager. I tried it but it just squeezed the hell out of my feet, I think it was designed for smaller people.

So I am now enjoying my first night with electricity and proper lighting in five days. I can hear the rain still going outside. Tomorrow I am going to book another night and do nothing. I think I’ve earned it. I've been to the convenience store also and bought myself quite a big dinner:

I'm think I'm going to watch an episode of Boardwalk Empire and then rest like I have never rested before.

Distance: 25.9km


  1. Hi Tom!!

    I'm Nishina a Japanese.
    I'm being helped by you now. Because, my german friends asked me that how and where they could get information about Tokai Shizen Hodo.

    I found the fact that we could get little information in even English about it. So I was at a loss as to what to do.
    But, god didn't ignore me, eventually, I discover your web-site. It's really informative!!

    By the way, the creature you saw was probably Kamoshika or Capricornis crispus. It's one of Japanese endemic spieces.

    I'm happy if I can correctly answer your question.

    1. Hi Nishina, I am glad my blog has the information you need. I created it because there was no information in english on the Tokai Shizen Hodo.

      Thank you for letting me know! Kamoshika!