Every year on my birthday we go for a hike, trek or climb in a local mountain. In the past we have climbed Mount Mikami in Yasu and Mount Otowa, which is located just behind our school, Smith’s School of English Otsu and can be seen through the windows while studying! This year we chose Mount Watamuki (綿向山) for our annual birthday hike. Mount Watamuki is located in Hino City (日野町), location of the famous Ninja Village in Koga which Eric recently blogged about. From our house in Ishiyama (石山) it takes about 1 hour by car to the base of Mount Watamuki.
The mountain is a very popular place to see snow crystals on the trees in winter and is also one of the best panoramas in Shiga. Many photographers make the journey just for the chance to take pictures of the beautiful trees and their ice formations. In other seasons the flora and fauna are pretty wonderful as well. There are also many wild animals living in these hills. From the top we can see the Suzuka mountain range (of which Watamuki is the tallest I believe) stretching from the south-west to the north-east, and in the distance you can just see the Pacific ocean off the coast of Mie prefecture. From the peak we can actually just barely see 4 prefectures- Shiga, Mie, Gifu and Aichi! At the top is a panorama placard showing what all the mountains and sights we can see.
The hike up and down takes 4-5 hours and can be done by healthy amateurs! On the way up we met at least twenty groups of hikers, including a 70 year old man who told us he climbs Watamuki once a week! He was a great person to talk to about the hiking trails and history of the mountain. We also met a group of 17 seniors from a climbing club and several families with teenage children. We had our 3 year-old with us, which was quite a challenge, as I had to carry him on my back most of the way up and down! I think the next time we tackle such a difficult mountain, we will wait til our son is old enough to climb it himself. Now I must think abo
ut which mountain to climb for my birthday hike next year!