After hiking Mt Aso I was yearning to see more volcanoes! So, what better place than to go to the 1700m site of 20 volcanoes of all different types – a haven for vulcanologists measuring volcanic activity.
Some of them are still so active that hiking paths have been recently closed, at the moment you cannot hike a 1km radius around Mt Io, Mt Shinmoedake and only one route is open up Mt Karakunidake.
I made it to Ebino Plateau, after driving a fun winding road up the mountains passing volatile sulphuric gas emissions from onsens along the way. Ebino Plateau is very accommodating to tourists, you can obtain a free map from the museum and there are a couple shops and restaurants up there.
I stopped for a pre-hike boost. A speciality treat for the Miyazaki area is the Cheese Manju. It is a cream cheese wrapped in a soft cakey cookie exterior, sold in the shop there. So tasty.
I took the Ebino Ikemeguri hiking trail which goes up to the summit of Mt Shiratoriyama, which is a fun, fairly easy, but long enough for a 3 hour walk there and back. The path gets a bit tricky at the summit however, when the path turns to loose rubble.
Ebino Ikemeguri’s trail of steps and foresty paths passes two beautiful lakes in shades of blue, made by the volcanic crater’s minerals. You can also see Mt Io’s crater, erupting toxic white clouds of sulphuric gas. Behind that, a gigantic old dormant crater of Mt Karakunidake dominates the view.
There is a pretty little rest stop at Lake Rokkukannonmiike, with a red Inari Shrine and a view of the deep blue lake. The hiking course stops here and you have to return the same way, as Mt Io is currently active.
A special sight here is a 500 year old Japanese Sugi Tree (cedar). These trees are incredibly strong and this has inspired me to go to Yakushima to see the Jomon Sugi, trees thousands of years old.
After 3 more hours of driving, I arrived in Ibusuki next to a huge lake called Lake Ikeda.
The AirBnB I stayed in was interesting, I passed flashing signs for “ホテル” (Hotel) whilst looking for what looked like a car garage, only to find that the hotel was in fact the place.
It still looked like a garage…
But inside, like stepping into an alternate universe, the sight I got was… a love hotel!
Car parking on Ebino Plateau: 500¥
Toilets, Restaurants and light hiking items available from Ebino Plateau.
Ebino Ikemeguri is a 3 hour hike in total, the full circuit is no longer accessible however there is a long route up to Shiratoriyama’s summit, and a shorter route just around the lakes to the view of Lake Rokkukannonmiike. Look out for rodents, deers and tanuki, they appear around dusk apparently.
The AirBnB in Ibusuki was actually a really good place for value and location if you have a car. 2013¥ per night. Parking, Wifi, Shower, Microwave, Fridge, Kettle.
I stayed in a nice AirBnB 7 minutes drive from the airport, the host was friendly and I got my own room for $30 per night, a reasonable price for New Zealand!