Report | and wander HIKING CLUB
in Fujiwara-dakeand wander journal #55


10月下旬。本州のくびれた腰のあたり。岐阜、三重、滋賀の3県にまたがる鈴鹿山脈のひとつ「藤原岳」を舞台に、モデルとして活躍しながら山に関するYouTubeチャンネルを手がける山下舞弓さんをゲストに迎え、and wander ハイキングクラブが開催されました。


Clear blue skies and Fujiwara-dake on a beautiful autumn day.

In early October, in central Japan, and wander’s HIKING CLUB visited “Fujiwara-dake”, part of the Suzuka mountain range that straddles Gifu, Mie and Shiga prefectures. The group was joined by model and YouTuber, Mayumi Yamashita, who has her own YouTube channel dedicated to videos about mountain hiking.

At an elevation of 1,140m, Fujiwara-dake is featured in the essay collection Hana no Hyakumeizan (lit. “Flowers of one hundred mountains”) by writer and mountain lover, Sumie Tanaka. It is known for its many wild grasses and flowers, such as Adonis amurensis, which only flowers on sunny spring days.



The Fujiwara-dake trailhead rest-house has a distinctive Japanese-style two level roof that is naturally cool in the summer and warm in the winter. This was the starting point and end goal of our hike. Its car park has space for about 25 cars and it is also easily accessible by train, being just ten minutes’ walk from the nearest station - “Nishi-fujiwara” on the Sangi Railway.

According to a trailhead sign about the “Four Seasons of Fujiwara-dake”, early October is when the dark greens of summer start to make way for brightly coloured autumn foliage. Every season has its own charms - the beauty of frost-covered trees in winter and carpets of Adonis amurensis in spring.


The group starts along the front path as we commence the hike under the dappled sunlight that streams through the foliage. It’s easy to become too enthusiastic at the start of a hike and use up too much energy too early on; but ideally one wants to commence the hike as slowly as possible, taking short steps and getting into a good rhythm. This allows the body to adapt to the mountain environment gradually with each step. The staff member leading the HIKING CLUB always takes care to set the pace according to the participants, so they can relax without having to worry about pacing. As we commence the hike, we greet Mt. Fujiwara-dake, our host for the day.


One of the simple pleasures of walking on mountain trails is just looking at the rocks, stones and tree roots that appear in front of you one after the other as you walk. You can crouch down to get an ant’s level view of the sloping land - something you would probably never feel inclined to do in the city. From this perspective, you will have a clear view of the natural tunnel created by the tree roots that spread out from the side of the path, the tree trunks that reach up into the air, and the trees’ branches and leaves that arch overhead.



There’s a curious and wonderful thing about hiking – each time we take a break, as we get higher and higher above sea level, the distance between the members of the group somehow shrinks and people find it easier and easier to talk to each other. Of all things hiking-related, the topic of gear is always popular, especially among the male participants. These excursions are often great opportunities for hiking enthusiasts amongst the staff and participants to exchange all sorts of information and tips regarding hiking gear.

Hiking requires multidirectional movement over extended periods of time. As such, it is important to control the various “spaces” between your body and your attire, shoes, backpack and other equipment. When you are taking tens of thousands of steps in a day, even the slightest discomfort can build up over time causing tiredness and stress on the body. At one point during the hike, there was an impromptu “fitting class” by experienced hiker Mayumi Yamashita. Just a few small but well-placed adjustments can make a surprisingly big difference in terms of comfort and ease of movement.


In modern-day life, it can be difficult to completely switch off, to forget about your mobile phone and just go for a leisurely walk. You may find that as you are walking you think about something, and as you get distracted by that thought, you end up walking fast again. But in the mountains, the slower you walk the more alert your five senses become, and the more aware you are of new sensations, such as the colour and smell of the trees, the warmth of the dappled sunlight, the presence of creatures and the sound of the wind.


Be it a single tree or a grove of a hundred, trees are always full of surprises. At the sixth station, all the trees’ trunks were twisted in the same way, maybe due to a strong wind blowing from the valley. When you imagine how the thin roots of the younger trees must have held on tightly to the soil as they strained against a wind so strong that it could bend their trunks, you feel like calling out to the forest in encouragement.


One and a half hours into the hike, the group’s members have all opened up to each other and the conversation is lively. However, one thing about mountain climbing is that gaps in the conversation or moments of silence are not uncomfortable either. Could this be because, as we all walk along the same path, we are also subconsciously communicating through our shared experience of the changing scenery and of the many sounds, such as the rustling of our gear and our breathing?


As we get near to the ninth station we start to see the big white rocks of the “karst landscape” that is characteristic of Fujiwara-dake. The temperature near the peak is cooler, and more of the leaves have started to change colour at the higher altitude. In just a few weeks the foliage will be full of bright autumnal colours. Views of autumn leaves are beautiful wherever you see them from, however the view from Fujiwara-dake on a clear day when you can see out over the Ise plain all the way to Ise Bay is exceptionally stunning.



We arrived at the “Fujiwara-sanso” lodge, located near the peak, almost exactly on schedule. Although it was slightly windy, we were able to enjoy our lunch under bright clear skies. The lunches people had brought were varied, with some people having onigiri rice balls, others bread rolls or cup noodles, and some even making real sukiyaki.

Guest Mayumi Yamashita’s recommended recipes were also shared with the group. Piping hot and crispy “toasted mackerel sandwiches” and a “camembert fondue” that filled the air with an enticingly rich and cheesy aroma. We all enjoyed a refreshing break, with both dishes so popular that people were queueing up to be served. Of course, the customary HIKING CLUB drip coffee was also served.


As we let our stomachs rest in preparation for the hike back down in the afternoon, we sat round with designer Ms. Mori and guest Ms. Yamashita for a talk session. When everyone shared why they had started hiking, being “invited by friends or partners” emerged as a common theme.

休憩後、藤原山荘の近くにある展望台に向かう一行。視界の至るところで鹿が気持ちよさそうに駆け回っていました。遠くから見ると人も植物も動物もそれぞれが「色」に見え、and wanderのウェアが山容に馴染んでいるのがよくわかります。

After the break, the group headed to a lookout point near Furiwara-sanso lodge. Everywhere we looked, deer were frolicking happily. From a distance, the people, plants and animals all appear as “colours”, demonstrating how and wander hiking wear blends into the mountain scene.


At the 1,140-metre-high peak we were greeted by an exhilarating 360-degree view. It is believed that the rough and treacherous mountain ranges of the Suzuka mountains that were visible to the northwest were created by geologic upheaval hundreds of years ago.




After filling our lungs with the crisp summit air, we descended the mountain via the same route we had come up. On the descent, we have a wider field of vision around our feet, and we discover numerous “works of art” that had gone unnoticed on the way up. I’m sure that many of our readers have also felt their exhaustion fade when they suddenly came across someone’s artistic creation while on a hike.

One such example is when hikers each “update” a work of art as they pass it. Say one person just happened to place a twig on a stump. Then someone who came along later also places a twig on the same stump. And then another person, and another person, thus the original single act becomes a sequence of acts and eventually grows into a mysterious creation.

Or it could be stones or leaves. For example, a group of stones that looks like a family that has recently travelled over from the next mountain, or a stone that reflects the colourful hues of the dappled sunlight. Or the brightly coloured fallen leaves, hinting to the autumn season to come, that seem to resemble tasty vegetables in a stew.


On the descent, it’s easy to lose one’s balance on an uneven part of the path, or to trip on tree roots, and our knees can get tired from constantly having to act as shock absorbers. Trekking poles can be useful by allowing for more stability when shifting one’s centre of gravity and by also helping to disperse weight through the arms. Of course, they can also be used on the ascent as a third leg to pull the body up, or to let the arms rest when on level ground. Many people used trekking poles on this hike too.


Upon completing the descent, everyone received a specially-made HIKING CLUB woven patch as a present. Ms. Yamashita personally handed them to each hiker saying “lets meet again on the mountain”. Then everyone set off on their respective journeys home, tired but content; some had done many practice hikes in preparation for this day, others woke up very early to join us from Osaka, and the staff started preparing for this hike months ago.



Magnificent mountains that tower above us are often referred to as symbols of grand aspirations. However, mountains can also be familiar companions to our day-to-day lives. In the same way that we look out the window when our eyes are tired or that we drink water when we feel thirsty, our unconscious actions show how we turn to nature for mental and physical balance.

Easily accessible mountains can be a backdrop to urban life. These are the mountains that we climbed as children holding our parents’ hands, that we climbed as students immersed in deep conversation and that we sometimes climb solo and carefree. Fujiwara-dake is like an “album” filled with these snapshots from our lives.

translation Yuko Caroline Omura