On our second day in Osaka, we headed to the northern edge of Osaka prefecture for a hiking tour I found online. I had communicated a little with the tour guide, but I was not sure what to expect. After a little bit of drama on the train ride there (I thought we were on the wrong train, so we got off, only to realize we had definitely been on the right train), we arrived at Kisaichi station where our guide was waiting for us. From there we picked up some snacks from the only convenience store in town and headed to the bus stop. We were very lucky because the bus only ran on the weekend and then only once in each direction. If we had missed it, we would have been out of luck.
When we got to the bus stop, there was a large group of older men and women there waiting. They started talking to our tour guide asking things like, “Why do you have two foreigners with you?” After letting the tour guide answer for us, I decided it was time to start speaking for myself. The group was very surprised when I started speaking Japanese and after a while they requested a few pictures with us.
We rode the bus together, but then went our separate ways when they got off the bus a stop earlier than us. Our first stop was some spiritual training in Iwafune. We had to give our bags and basically everything we were carrying before we entered the training grounds. Unfortunately, this included Aunt Marty’s hiking poles. She was unsure that she would be able to continue without them, so we went forward with the understanding that she might need to turn back.
We only got about a minute into the training course before we realized it would not be smart for her to continue. So I trailed her as she walked back to make sure she got to the entrance safely and then the tour guide and I continued through the course on our own.
(All photos of the training area taken from a Google search as we were not allowed to take our cameras with us.)
It ended up being a very smart choice. At one point I was on my back, sliding through a triangle of space made from where two stones leaned against each other.
The training course only took 15 minutes. After that, we received little certificates of completion and continued our hike.
While we were hiking we found an old man who just so happened to be a volunteer tour guide for the city who showed us to a lookout point on the mountain. On a clear day, he said, we would be able to see Kyoto Tower.
We couldn’t, but we did get a nice view of the pedestrian suspension bridge. As we were leaving the area, our friends from the bus stop found us. They invited us to sit with them for lunch.
There they loaded us with snack after snack, while refusing to take any we offered. (I had actually brought from Miyazaki snacks with me for just this reason, but they still refused.)
Afterwards we continued on our separate ways again. We headed to the suspension bridge called Hoshi no Branko, or Swing of the Stars.
One way back down the mountain, we stopped by a climbing area that had been recently installed. I wanted to give climbing a try (since it is technically not bouldering and was thereby allowed under a promise I had made certain people), but my aunt overruled me. I did, however, get to boulder a little bit on a very short bouldering wall inside the rest building. (A few people stared at me in what appeared to be shock after I completed the hardest course. I’m not sure if it was shock that I snuck onto the wall in between kids attempting it, or shock at how awesomely amazing I was, but I’m going to choose to believe the latter.)
The rest of the hike down was peaceful and I managed to only slip once. I scratched my camera a little in the process as it had been in my hand at the time, but that did not bother me as much as I thought it would. All of my cameras have had a single small scratch on them, all from moments when I was a little more adventurous than I normally am, so those small scratches kind of feel like badges of honor to me. The first one I got when crawling through a tunnel in Israel, my second camera had one when I was climbing beside a waterfall in Scotland, and now my third one has a scratch from hiking in a part of Osaka most people don’t know exists.
The highlight of our tour was the guide. Not only was she knowledgeable about the area, but she was well traveled enough to relate all Japanese concepts to something Western to make it easier for someone not familiar with Japanese culture to understand. We exchanged contact information at the end of the tour, so hopefully we will get a chance to meet again. The return to Osaka City was much less frustrating than the trip out, but we still both arrive in Osaka exhausted and ready for a break.
After a shower and a nap, we grabbed the shuttlebus back to Osaka station for some dinner and the ambitious plan of shopping. The shopping did not happen, but we did get dinner at an Italian restaurant I have been to a few times. We both slept very well that night.