This is it! This is the top of Ishizuchi-san, the highest mountain in western Japan.
Once I got up to Ishizuchi-jinja, the sight of the green mountains which lay beyond dazzled me.
Here’s a panorama shot of the Green Mountains Behind Ishizuchi-san (i.e. the Rugged Heart of Shikoku).
I saw Ishizuchi-jinja itself, the very important shrine on Misen (the peak at 1974 meters). Taking photos of the interior of the shrine is forbidden, so if you want to see it, you’ll have to go in person.
By itself, the shrine doesn’t look so different from a zillion other Shinto shrines in Japan.
It’s when you combine the sight of this shrine with its surroundings that you start saying ‘wow’.
Most hikers only go to Misen, since that is where Ishizuchi-jinja is. However, the true summit of Ishizuchi-san is Tengu-dake (Heavenly Dog Peak).
I had read that the trail from Misen to Tengu-dake was difficult, with a big drop. I wasn’t sure if I was going to do it. But when I saw it, I thought – heck, this isn’t any worse than a lot of the peaks I’ve climbed up in Taiwan!
I was very grateful to Taiwan for offering so many rocky, scrambling peaks with big drops so I could build up the nerve it takes to hike up a peak like Tengu-dake without freaking out.
Of course, any reasonable person would be careful around sharp long drops like that, but compared to what I had been imagining the trail to Tengu-dake being like, it was relaxing.
If I hadn’t built up that nerve in Taiwan, I would have felt a lot less comfortable going to Tengu-dake.
And if I hadn’t gone to Tengu-dake, I would have missed the most beautiful sight I ever saw in Western Japan.
That’s right – the view from Tengu-dake looking towards Misen is the most beautiful thing I saw in all of my travels around western Japan (and I went further afield than the vast majority of foreign tourists who go to western Japan).
It’s so beautiful, I’m going to show you another photo.
And I’m going to show you yet another photo.
Alas, I did have a bus to catch, so I made my way back to Misen.
I am so glad that this was my final hike in Japan. It is one of the best.
After all of this hiking, I was looking forward to soaking in an onsen. There is an onsen right by the lower ropeway station, but I was holding out because I planned to go to one of Japan’s most famous onsen that evening – an onsen which helped inspire Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. That’s right, I was going to Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama. Read about it in the next post!