A brisk Saturday morning, and we headed out from Mie to Yufuin, a mere hour and a half away, to climb the iconic peaks of Yufu-dake (由布岳).
With the unfortunate miscommunication of the google map pin, with it trying to drive us directly up the snow soaked mountain, we arrived an hour late to the car park to meet the rest of the JETs.
So there we were, 15 bright-eyed and bushytailed JETs, set to take on the snowy slopes of the mountains.
What delightful terrain befell us, the mountains beautiful multiplied the dusting of snow at the lower levels, giving way to increasingly thicker and trickier clmbing, until we reached the summit. Somewhat hidden in cloud, it became a veritable snow storm at the top, turning a reasonable small 1580m mountain into a wild climb of death as we clutched desperately to chains that clung to final rock faces.
I’ll let the photos tell the story.
Needless to say, the beers I drank atop of the mountain were some of the most earnt in all my time in Japan!
Coming Down and Chilly Cabins
Coming back down was inevitable worse. Adopting a low squatting ski tactic proved particularly enjoyable at points, if for no more reason that it hurt less to fall.
Upon reaching the bottom, the JETs piled into cars, and made our way to our cabin for the night.
Isolated by snow, we were forced to climb the remaining few metres to the cabin, as the cars begin to slip, slide and skid back down the hill.
Freezing cold on the inside, unsurprisingly the cabin never got any hotter.
As if pretending we were in 1950s, bath sharing enabled a number of us to quickly warm up, as did the kototsu in the lounge and the small gas fire in the kitchen.
Needless to say, with that many JETs in a room, a certain level of merriment was achieved that helped fight off any lingering cold.
Following on from a delightful breakfast of eggy rice… stuff, we packed up and heading down into Yufuin town.
A pleasingly charming place, with real character, surprising given its position as a highly tourist town, that offered a number of food outlets, shops and things to see.
We took greatest pleasure in spotting a small onsen bath house, most peculiar compared to every other onsen I’ve been to.
By the front door was a small money box, into which you dropped in your ¥200. Entering boys turned left, girls to the right, you stripped off and entered a small room, with a single pool. Having the place to ourselves, it saved any awkward closeness with randomers!
Having only scraped the surface, I look forward to visiting again in the spring or summer, to see it in all its splendour (rather than obscured by hazy snow clouds!).