Recent Escapes into the Nature in Saitama

(See page 2 for the German version)

Those who are reading my blog regularly, will probably have already noticed that I really like hiking. The green scenery around me, the fresh air and walking itself have an incredibly stress-reducing effect on me, and I can start into the new working week way more relaxed after a hiking-Sunday. Anyway, so along with the spring weather I once again paid a visit to the mountains in Saitama.

Mt. Bonoore (棒の折山) (969m)

For the first hike we went to Hanno station by train, from there took the Kokusai Kogyo bus (国際 興業 バ ス), and after about 40 minutes got off at the bus stop ‚Sawarabi no Yu‘ (さ わ ら び の 湯), from where we wanted to start hiking. Our way first lead us along a road to a lake and the Arima dam, from there it was, however, not long until we got to a forest path. There the actual hiking began, which was not too hard, but still had a few steep parts as well. On our way I was especially impressed by a father, who was there with his two young children. He carried one of the sons, who was maybe 4 years old, all the way up to the top of the mountain on his shoulders! The way also led right through a small stream that was flowing down the mountain, and overall there was a nice hiking ‘variation’ of trees, rocks und flowing water that we encountered on our way to the top, where a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding mountains awaited us. Unfortunately, on our way down we somehow got lost (need to pay attention to the big rock with the many signs!) and therefore walked about 30 minutes longer than initially planned. But fortunately in the end we found the right way, which, after 8.2km and 4.5 hours of hiking led us to the onsen ryokan (a traditional inn) ‘Taishoukaku’ (大松閣). The onsen there was really great, especially as besides me there were only two other elderly ladies there as guests and I could soon enjoy the onsen pools all by myself. All in all, it was a great day of hiking, and a trail that would not be too difficult even for people without any hiking experience.

Mt. Kannokurayama (管ノ倉山) (344m)

During Golden Week we tried to escape the crowds by going to the mountain (o rather hill?) Kannokurayama, which was really easy to climb and did not even cause me any muscle soreness (like usually after hiking). We started our hike from Tobu-Takezawa station and first walked for about half an hour in the morning heat along a road through the town, before we got to a small lake and finally reached the forest. Afterwards, we quickly made it to the summit of Kannokurayama, followed by the summit of Sekisonyama (石 尊 山) (341m), which was close by. Unfortunately, after that the forest path soon ended again, and the remaining 1.5 or so hours, we just walked through fields, and passed deserted streets and neighborhood houses. On that day again our goal was a hot spring (… because what could be better after a day outside …), and we went to ‘Ogawa Onsen – Kawara no Yu’ (お が わ 温泉 花 和 楽 の 湯)  in the town of Ogawa. Although we had to wait a whole hour until we could actually go in, thanks to the many visitors there, I really can recommend that onsen (especially the carbonated outdoor bath ‘ramune –furo’!). My conclusion, with 10.4 km and a little bit less than 4 hours of walking it was a good little journey, but I would have preferred more forest and nature and fewer houses on the way instead.

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