Mt Kaimondake – Spiralling to the Summit

Today was special. Maybe my head was spinning from the altitude or dehydration or the path that seemed to wrap itself multiple times around the mountain.

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Mt Kaimon, a 924m high, thick-forested dormant volcano has the nickname “Satsuma-Fuji”. Satsuma, unlike the sweet oranges, was the name for the old province now known as Kagoshima. It is the Mt. Fuji of Kagoshima.

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The walk is about 7km in total to the summit and down. 
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Take care of the large caves between the boulders…

This hike I would rate as the most challenging I have attempted in Japan so far, the first half is steep loose volcanic rock, followed by some mildly technical bouldering skills with assisted ropes and unstable ladders as points. These are all in place to help you though so the climb can be attempted by anyone with a little stamina.

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I really, really enjoyed this hike. It felt like an adventure, and even though I was sweating in the 23 degree heat and wishing I had brought more water (it is ESSENTIAL!!), nothing could prepare me for what happened next…

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Mt Sakurajima, Lake Ikeda and Mt Takakuma visible from the top

The view burst through the trees and I peered out on to a crystal clear sight of the whole of the south of Kyushuu. Wow.

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I met a fair few keen hikers up here, all who fell for this incredible view. I am impressed by the amount of older Japanese hiking, they were not phased at all by the challenge and just here to reach the peak.

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I enjoyed the responses from a gaijin couple halfway up, they saw me powering up looking at my least elegant and the boyfriend said:

“Ah, you’ve still got a long way to go I’m afraid…”

…followed by the girlfriend’s interjection of encouragement:

“Really?! It’s not that far! You can make it!”

I had watched this video clip of boys vs girls of Ch4’s “Empathy” last week which tickled me – guys will tell you like it is, and girls will try to support your feelings..! To be honest though, the guy was right, it was far, but, I made it!

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There is space for lunch at the top, a little shrine to thank the gods for keeping you safe during the accent, and a 360° panoramic view of Kyushuu.

If the weather is good and you are keen for a challenge in Ibusuki, this is the volcano to hike.

 

Traveller’s Tips

Free parking spot at Community Centre/Campsite near Kaimonsanrokufureai Park. The Head of the trail is 5 minutes walk from here. Nearest toilets are here only.

Drinks vending machines at the Campsite but no food, I would highly recommend bringing a packed bento or visiting the Family Mart which is in the town down the hill near the Eneos Petrol Station.

Kaimon Station is the closest stop to the Mt Kaimon trailhead. 25 minutes walk.

Mt Kaimon elevation: 924m.

Last Erupted: 885 AD

Hiking time to summit: 2-3hours.

Hiking down: 1-2hours.

Distance: 7km total (up and down).

Path does not go back on itself, it spirals up around the mountain, a rare occurrence.

 

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