Having dodged another typhoon, we had fine if unseasonably muggy weather for our haike on Sunday 3 October. I led Tito, Mayumi, David, and Akihiko Hayashi on a hike through the northern Higashiyama hills, with Akira and Shigeko Kibi joining us at the beginning.
We met at the intersection of Imadegawa and Kitashirakawa Sts at Kyoto Trail marker 52-1, just to the west of the Philosopher’s Path and Ginkakuji. This section of the trail follows the Shirakawa River upstream towards its mountain source, passing Kitashirakawa-tenjingu Shrine 北白川天神宮. The locals were preparing its mikoshi portable shrines for the harvest festival held on the first Sunday of October.
now free of the Emergency / fragrant olive’s / fresh greeting (Akira)
Saying good-bye to the Kibis, we entered the trailhead, pausing soon again at a pair of shrines, Oyamatsumi-jinja 大山祇神社 and Chiryudaimyojin 地龍大明神, quiet and shaded by the treetops. The trail rose steeply from here, guiding us to the Hakuyushi Ruins 白幽子旧跡, where the eponymous hermit, who taught naikanhou 内観法 introspection, lived out his final years in the Edo period.
The mystery / at the hermit’s cave — / who placed the tangerine? (Tito)
After another climb past tilting bodhisattva statues, we came out on the peak of Mt. Uryu (瓜生山, 301m). ‘Cucumber Peak’ is so named because cucumber-favouring Gozu Tennoh 牛頭天王 (guardian god Susano-o スサノオ) apparently manifests in bull form on the mountain. A shrine (光龍大権現) associated with Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiharu 足利義春 sits on the summit. Here is his death poem:
五月雨は 露か涙か 不如帰 我が名をあげよ 雲の上まで
An early-summer rain: but is it dewdrops or my tears? Little cuckoo, take my name up with you, high above the clouds!
The first signs of autumn tinged the foliage, and we were rewarded with a refreshing breeze as we took our lunch under a tree, with good views south to Mt. Daimonji, site of the previous Isshu Trail haike.
Autumn breeze — / Dancing leaves, running leaves / On the top of Mt. Uryu (Mayumi K)
Rather than descending to the famous Tanukidanifudoin Temple 狸谷不動院, we continued northeast on the Isshu Trail ridgeline for some time, almost having the beautiful path to ourselves.
Mt. Hiei trail / following monks’ footprints — / an autumn ridge breeze (Akihiko)
One clearing was bedecked with tangy green perilla (shiso). And there were other culinary delights waiting on a fallen log:
Red fungi and acorns / Spotlit in the sun — / Forest banquet (Mayumi K)
At marker 69, by the Mizunomi taijin-no-ato 水飲対陣跡 monument, we turned off the Trail and descended steeply into Shugakuin. It was the hottest time of the day.
Wiping sweat from my eyes — / the path scattered with acorns (David)
We made three crossings of a limpid stream. Tito was taken with a certain item, which passed among us for the rest of the descent.
Our rucksacks, / straining with the big grey rock / eased from a mountain streambed (Richard)
In a charming little park on the banks of the Otowa River 音羽川 near the Imperial Villa, we settled onto the benches and shared our trail haiku as the hot afternoon began to wind down.