Taketa: Trekking Through 竹田

Finally Sunday had arrived, and it was time take my first hike in Japan! Though Holly getting lost on the way to mine was not the best start!

Our co-ordinates converged we set off to Asaji station to meet Savvy, running only 20 minutes late. Once convened Savvy filled in a form in the hike centre – presumably to say that any chance of death was acknowledged before we started on route.

The second turn in we would turn out to be lost, a mere few hundred metres from the station. As exciting as it was to march towards and see the taiko performance, as we continued on, it become abundantly clear something was awry or the map was wrong…

Back on track we passed a delightful family of scarecrows, adorned with matching stuff dog, whom smiled cheerily and creepily at us in passing. A short with later we arrived at a kufufle of people and followed them down a stony stepped path, passing under a Dulux colour palette named ‘Burnt Autumnal’ as the tree leaves ranged from brown to red, to orange and yellow, down to a pond. Whilst the tree themselves were beautiful, there was a strange sense of the artificial, perhaps the man-made look to the lake, or just the sheer volume of people in such a small space.

Losing Savvy and Holly, I spent 15 minutes traipsing up and down hill paths in pursuit of them, to find they had paused no more the 20 metres from where I turned around on the first path I’d chosen.

Truly hills did follow. A combination of regular roads, single track roads and pedestrian paths, the route took up to beautiful heights, and down to field upon field harvested rice paddy, weaving its way through and onto the next hill, the path highlighted with red and blue ribbons hanging from the trees.

Two hours in, we stopped for lunch just before reaching the giant stone Buddha, and reflected on our progress – we’d made just under 4km in 2 hours – it was going to be a long day!

A top the Oka ruins – Photo by Holly Brown


After lunch we make much better progress, perhaps the energy from lunch fuelling us onwards and upwards, but pretty soon we had reached Oka Castle (ruins), about 9km in and it was only 1530! A fantastic vantage point to view the world, and a real shame it was burnt down to show allegiance to the Emperor as the regional Shoguns began losing their power. A sprawling network of paths and rooms built across multiple levels following the contours of the top of the hill.

Not long after this we were in Taketa, sat in Michael’s (unlocked) car and inviting him for curry back in Mie. Completing my weekend trio of curry, I was very pleased with myself, ending a weekend of running and hiking with curry, friends and Firefly!

By J.Molkenthin

James Molkenthin is an enthusiastic and energetic British Designer, with a background in Graphics, Website and Product Design.