Our mission today was to climb Mocchomudake. Known as one of Yakushima’s most challenging hikes. Kei couldn’t stop sniggering at the name of this mountain. Mocchomu apparently refers to the yonic shape of the rock formation at the top…
We were climbing the vagina mountain.
Starting at 270m, the beginning of the hike leads you through lush green forest and is a steep climb at an average of 25-30°. We found ourselves building up a sweat quite quickly here.
This trail is not maintained like Jomon Sugi, and you have to look out for the little pink ribbons otherwise you will get lost quite quickly. They lead you over little root-ledges and across mossy rocks and silver streams.
We kept our eyes peeled. Furthermore, after saying for days that every tree root looked like a snake, and worried that we would come into contact with one of the most poisonous snakes in Japan… we found a snake. Run!
The summit sits at 994m high, and not one part of the climb gives you a rest-break. You are climbing steps, rocks, roots and ropes the entire way up. Again, I would recommend strong footwear (unlike mine!).
We reached 800m and our hopes started to peak.
Then we asked a passing hiker if we were nearing the top, he replied with “Ha! Not yet! You have lots of ups and downs to go before reaching the top!”
At this point we stopped for a break to see the two ancient Jōmon Sugi on this trail; Mocchomutaro Sugi, and Bandai Sugi. They were incredibly tall, and hollow inside as they had rotten from the thousands of years of growth in this wet climate.
The water that flows through the forest is also particularly tasty, with a mossy green taste. Make sure to collect it from running water and check upstream for dead animals first
The last part of the climb was a killer, as the exhausted hiker had said, it ascends and descends 3 times before you reach the top. We could already see hikers at the peak.
Despite not being a maintained route, there were helpful ropes for pulling yourself up the sheer granite rock faces. Slippy when wet, I wouldn’t dream of attempting this climbing in the rain. We were lucky.
The last hurdle was a huge rock perched on the summit. You have to put all of your trust into a single knotted rope to finish this hike.
The view of south Yakushima’s coastline was stunning. Mocchomudake is usually shrouded with clouds so having this view on a clear day was something special.
Unfortunately we couldn’t get a photograph of the rock formation that Mocchomudake was named for… so you’ll just have to use your imagination…or not.
We also met a young guide with 3 very special ladies. They had started at 5:30am that morning, and they had just summited after a 7 hour hike (it was 12:30).
Did I mention that they were 70 years old?
If I am still climbing when I’m 70 years old, I will be extremely happy.
After having sweet Yakushima oranges on the summit, and getting lost in the view of the blurred sea horizon and patchwork fields along the chalked outline of the coastline, we decided to make our descent.
For us, in total it was a 6hr full-body climbing experience. Pretty fast.
Eventually, we overtook the ladies on the way down, even though my knees felt like a 70 year old’s at this point. I learned that you really have to know your own fitness limits to attempt hikes like this, and I believe that I had reached mine.
We waited for the ladies at Senpiro Waterfall at the bottom, and they arrived at 5:30pm. They had taken a full 12 hours to achieve what was a highly challenging hike!
Good on them!
Level 4/5 | Distance: 6km | Time 7-8 hours | Altitude 270m ～994m