Thursday, November 16, 2017

Four Kyushu Olle Hikes

It can be a challenge getting to a hiking trailhead. Public transport may be spotty or non-existent, and once you're in the locale, trailheads have a bad habit of hiding in plain sight.

Once I've found the trailhead, I can usually muddle my way along the trail with the assistance of GPS, map, signage, and dumb luck. The odd involuntary reroute, in airline parlance, is all part of the experience. Travel without wabi-sabi is bland.

Sometimes, though, I just want to get to a trailhead then walk with my mind relieved of the logistics of the walk. Originally developed in South Korea, Olle hikes meet this challenge in Kyushu, Japan's southernmost main island. An Olle hike might include villages, farms, mountainous countryside, and the seaside. The trail may be arduous, or relaxed, depending on the classification.

I don't have to overthink: an Olle hike is a nice day out; I just have to follow the symbols shown at the top of this post.

I've walked four of the (currently) seventeen Kyushu Olle hikes.

Nearest Major City
Start Station
End Station
Ibusuki or Kagoshima


Fukuoka (Hakata)
From Toga Station take bus (8:40 a.m.) then ferry (9:25 a.m.) to Oshima Island. Times as of November 2017.
Short walk at end back to Takeoonsen Station.
Click the course names to get good English-language explanations of the courses.
The spelling of station names is the same as used by the timetable service, HyperDia
I selected these four courses because they are easily accessible by rail.

Ibusuki-Kaimon Course

Kaimon Station. I walked the course from end to start.
View of Kaimondake. I climbed this volcano in 2014.
Nishioyama Station, the southernmost station in the Japan Rail system. People were there simply to visit the station.

Kurume-Korasan Course
At Kurumedaigakumae Station I looked around for the symbol identifying the start of the hike.
Munakata-Oshima Course
World War II gun emplacement.
Takeo Course
Children playing Saturday baseball.
3,000-year-old camphor tree.
Note: "Olle" means "a narrow pathway that is connected from the street to the front gate of a house" in the dialect of Jeju Island, South Korea.

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