Cable Car Shortcut

Knowing what a stupid bus ride it is to get back to Naka – and the 7 km hike upriver I’ve got after that just to get back on the trail – I skip the morning shower and coffee and I’m out the door at 7 am. I looked up some alternatives to the bus the night before and it looks like jumping on a train to Kurowa and taking a bus from there is better so I jump on a train in that direction and hope for the best.

I hit the first snag at Anan Station when my train stops and I’m told I have to switch to another – but I’ve got to wait almost two hours for that train to show up. There’s fuck all to do so I lie on a bench and suck back about three coffees. I finally make it but the bus doesn’t seem to be around. It is a Sunday… Eventually it shows up, I jump on and I’m back in Naka Town.

A kilometre upriver and it’s almost noon. By the time I get back on the trail it’ll be past 1 pm – even if I knock off this next big peak I won’t have enough time for the subsequent smaller one which means I’ll have to get another bus back to this place. Fuck that noise. Fortunately there’s a cheater’s shortcut in the form of a cable car…


This will save me the 6-km walk upriver and cuts off a 2.4 km climb to the top. On one hand I feel back about cheating but on the other I’ve been doing a shit ton of extra walking anyways. I decide to go for it.


I’m dropped right outside the front steps of temple twenty-one, Tairyuji.


Besides the cable car there are at least half a dozen routes up and down the mountain; besides the way I was supposed to come up there’s also the primary pilgrim route down which follows the road.  There’s a secondary route that heads down something called the “Iwaya Trail” – I reckon this is the way to go. Unexpectedly the first section goes uphill – even though Tairyuji is near the top of the mountain, this trail takes you *right* to the top.


I have no idea what this sign says besides caution. It seems pretty serious though so some pictures would be helpful.


This trail is awesome. A lot of ups-and-downs, loose dirt, leaves, rocks. It’s a beautiful day too.


Pretty sure this is what the caution sign was about. Parts of the trail have been worn away so they’re inches wide. Ropes have been put up to provide a handhold as you shoot across these sections.


It drops me down onto the road that I took to get to Naka. I pass by a white guy and a white girl speaking English and say hi. They both seem pretty aloof and just kind of nod. I get the impression the guy is macking on the girl, he goes ahead while she sits down on the road next to a bus stop sign.

I pass by a few farms and it turns steep again. After a few hundred steps I reach a pass with a three-way intersection in it.


I head downhill and before long I’m dropped into a small village and it’s only a few kilometres further to Byodoji. Standing outside I see Paul, the Aussie I’d met the other day. He’s staying at a ryokan nearby and just waiting for a complimentary ride. He ran into the same problem I did at the Naka River – that is, taking longer than expected crossing the peak on the way there – except he had his tent with him, so he camped next to the river for a night before climbing the second hill. He’s got to go and I’ve got walking left to do before the daylight’s gone so I say later and head into the temple.


It’s a further five kilometres on the trail and then a one km detour to get to Awa-Fukui Station, which will get me back to Tokushima easier than a bus from here so I head down the woods road in that direction. The trail follows the pavement for the first couple of clicks but the map and the elevation profile show it going off-road – after cutting through what seems like someone’s yard I cut across the road, past a lake and head up a trail into a bamboo forest.


After a few hundred metres this isn’t much of a trail. There are loads of rotten bamboo over where it looks like the trail should be. I climb over and around and have completely lost any whiff of a path.  I keep climbing another five minutes or so to reach a ridgeline in hopes of being able to rediscover from high ground. I get there and still no sign. I could drop down the other side but there’s no sign of anything over there and it’s getting late in the afternoon – I decide to get back on the road and just play it safe. When I get back on the road I find a sign indicating that the road *is* the path. I was just fucking around in the woods, whatever trail that was had nothing to do with where I want to go.


Snake warning sign. Glad I was just climbing around piles of rotten wood on all fours.


I get to Awa-Fukui and I’ve just missed the train by 10 minutes. I’ve got almost two hours to kill until the next so I take a walk into “town” – there’s a mechanic, a gas station, about two dozen houses and a little shop with a single lonely six-pack of beer. I pop three of them out and head back to the railway siding, sipping them while the sun goes down.


Leave a Reply