Yesterday visited the beautiful Hira Mountains, a small range located on the western shore of Lake Biwa. It took us about 2 hours to reach the Jinjishu temple, in the hamlet of Bomura. The goal was a winter hike to the snow line. As you can see, we managed to get plenty of snow in an attempt to raise Christmas cheer.
The trailhead to Mount Bunagatake, the highest peak in the range (3,984 ft / 1,214 m) just past the temple, next to a massive, old sugi (Japanese cedar) tree. Unfortunately, the family was not in the mood for a 40-minute steep climb to start the walk. I was following the Lonely Planet’s (2009) Hiking in Japan guide which gave an accurate description of the hike. I’ve learned their definition of steep, really means steep. It was muddy and snow-covered in many places, lowering morale even more for the female and younger members of the Kralovec family.
I didn’t know what to expect as it was my first time in the area. There still is a couple of small ski resorts open, although, with global warming, several have closed. It has been a cold winter so far, so I should have expected snow. We got off to a late start because it is difficult to get the family out of bed in the morning, so I didn’t expect us to get far with this being the winter solstice. We successfully conquered the first steep section but stopped before attacking the next 10-minute steep climb. It was fun to make a snowman and play in the snow at the top of the first ridge.
I really want to go back and make it to the summit of Bunagatake. Next time we will definitely arrive earlier and dress warmer. It would have been good to have a thermos of hot chocolate and sandwiches, so some more preparation is needed.
The beauty of Hira Mountains was first depicted 500 years ago in the Eight Views of Omi (Omi province is now the Shiga prefecture). The “Evening Snow at Hira” is shown below. You can see the southern part of Lake Biwa, a freshwater lake north of Osaka. The city of Otsu on the shores has made the foreground an urban scene today, but the mountains are still beautiful!