I am back to hiking after a hiatus. I don’t know why I didn’t choose the comfortable spring weather to go hiking, but there’s also something lovely about hiking in the summers of Japan. There is a fragrant smell of lush trees and plants in the air that I want to inhale all year round. Of course, there are occasionally annoying flies and mosquitos, too, but nature redeems itself with the beauty it offers, anyway.
When I go hiking, I usually know why but don’t know where I am going. I have recently learned that there is a word for that—coddiwomple. It means to travel purposefully towards an unknown destination. Coddiwompling indeed defines my general approach to life, but I didn’t know it could also encompass hiking for me. It is fun to learn later about a word that has always been there and so accurately describes my life.
I am an optimist, though. Learning things a bit later in life doesn’t automatically mean I am behind. Things like words can be more meaningful if we experience them before learning their meaning. Or that could be my excuse, a rather poetic one, as a non-native English speaker. Seriously though! This blog post was meant to focus on my recent hikes in Japan, but oops! I coddiwompled my way through words again!
I sometimes don’t know how to cope with my feelings and tame my mind in the comfort of home. At those times, I find myself traveling, well, actually coddiwompling. I Google a few places, read recommendations, and set out on my journey. Biwako was the result of one of those hard times, and I am happy that I was able to leave those thoughts and feelings behind after visiting this spectacular place.
Biwako Valley is in Shiga—a prefecture well-known for Lake Biwa (琵琶湖 – Biwako). Shiga borders Fukui, Gifu, Kyoto, and Mie, but Lake Biwa is entirely in Shiga and makes up over 90% of the prefecture! Biwako Valley is in Shiga City (I know, it is confusing!) and can be reached via the fastest ropeway in Japan. It takes you to an altitude of 1,100m in 5 minutes! I had been to Shiga before, but visiting Biwako Valley and seeing Lake Biwa from the top was an ethereal experience.
Nature heals and betters us. I watched people take photos, have fun, and treat themselves to a nice meal while pondering the power of nature and its vast impact on our psyche. I spent a few hours there inhaling this beauty and jotting down a few sentences to express my feelings. I always carry a notebook with me wherever I go for that reason. I also enjoyed the scenic and free chairlift ride up to Mount Horai. There I could see Lake Biwa again from a different angle and drink a pleasant beverage.
Going to Shiga was quite a journey! It took about three hours to reach The Biwako Terrace from Kobe, so it was a six-hour journey in total. I usually travel by car with my spouse, but as I said above, I travel solo somewhere unknown when I’m having tough times. Traveling enriches my human experience and gives me a new perspective. I return home refreshed and energized —even if I must travel six hours to achieve it! The only downside I can think of is that there are not many photos of me if I travel solo!
I always thought Hyogo was an underrated prefecture in Japan. Kobe and Himeji are the two most famous cities in Hyogo, but most domestic and international tourists wouldn’t really know where else to visit in Hyogo. Hyogo, in fact, has a lot to offer to adventure and nature lovers. Although I have lived in Hyogo for almost three years, I still discover new cities, towns, and hiking trails. One of my recent discoveries was Hachibuse Highlands!
Hachibuse Highlands is a part of Yabu City. It is full of nature, history, and delicious foods. We embarked on our journey from Kobe and went to Hachibuse Highlands from Shiso City, which also happens to be one of my favorite places in Hyogo. It took about three hours by car, and I believe any other form of transportation would take longer. Besides, there were a lot of winding roads, so we had to drive more slowly. However, beautiful rice terraces, fields, villages, and rivers along the way make the journey pleasant.
It is not easily accessible by public transportation, but I am sure buses are going up the nearby towns. Being a ski resort in winter, Hachibuse Highlands is riddled with hotels and other facilities. Yet, when my spouse and I visited there a couple of days ago, we quickly discovered that we were the only people hiking that day. That made our journey even more fantastic because the birds were the only voices that accompanied us. Don’t get me wrong! I like my fellow hikers, but we all know solitude can be awe-inspiring when hiking!
We spent three hours hiking the closest mountains that you can see in the photos. The weather was lovely—most importantly, it wasn’t rainy! And I had a chance to have my photo taken—one of the perks of traveling with a partner! After reaching the summit, we saw more trails leading to other towns in the area. The sun was about to set, so we decided to return to Kobe, promising we would return to Hachibuse Highlands as soon as possible!
Wasn’t this an adventurous month! June isn’t over, but I have already seen wondrous places in Kansai. We are planning to visit Kannabe before July to see other highlands there. My spouse is talking about paragliding—an extreme sport I have never tried before. I will be busy at work with final exams and grading papers, so I don’t know when we can realize his dream of paragliding. Until then, I will enjoy my everyday life dreaming of highlands and coddiwompling through life.
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