The Hara-Ashitaka circuit – Part 1

1 11 2007

Welcome to Part 1 of a two part series on sites in the greater Numazu area. Part 2 will be along soon. Enjoy.  

It seems that September is the time that I hear the call of the mountains and I clean my mountain bike and prepare for a big ride. Well it could be that or the fact that after returning from an expensive summer vacation the only thing I had left to spend was time.

After locating one of my many Numauz Tourist Guide Books: English (Engrish), I set to planning an expedition. However, after ten minutes I was yet again lost in the priceless text. For example “The left side of the river is provided with walking road for pedestrians…” or “The Kano River has stairs.” While not the most amusing text of Japanese English I have read, the Numazu Tourist Guide Book certainly lightens your mood. I really don’t understand why so many English speaking expats and tourists get so worked up over these grammar mistakes. Really little things like this are an essential part of enjoying another country. We also seem to forget that our attempts at Japanese may be equally amusing for our indigenous friends. When it comes to my attempts at Japanese I am almost certain of it. But I digress.

The guidebook suggested that there are a great many sights in the Hara and Mt Ashitaka areas to the west and north of Numazu city, respectively. It seemed like a good enough plan for me so I set off on my mountain bike and guide in my back pocket to find out.

I first set off for Hara loosely following the route Tokaido Road once took. In the Edo Period, the Tokaido Road was a famous road connecting the old capitals in the Nara, Osaka, Kyoto triangle and the newly formed capital Edo; modern day Tokyo. Later the route was travelled artist Utagawa Hiroshige who crafted the 53 stations of Tokaido (Wikipedia 2007)

The trip to Hara was somewhat uneventful. I chose to take the inland route following the railway line rather than the far more picturesque Senbon Beach path. Most of this area is a combination of low level industrial and housing. It is interesting to find see how the locals blend their hand toiled community and private vegetable gardens with their modern homes. The lack of land in the area means that everything is right on top of each other. Very different to the towns in Australia I have lived in.

Hara vegetable gardens

My first stop was a quick ride around Syoinji Temple before a even quicker look in. This temple has been tastefully modernized, though there is really not very much to see here. I managed to lose my way searching for the Tourist Guide’s recommendation and stumbled across some funky little hand powered water pumps in a small park near Syoinji Temple. These were very cool and I had to play with them. Well, until some old ladies started to stare at me like I was the town idiot (very intuitive old ladies).

pump it up Hara

After a few more minutes I found my Tourist Guide checkpoint, Hakuin Zenji. Apparently an anonymous poem, by a possible member of this particular temple, declaired this temple and Mt Fuji are the two most excellent points of this area. Well, Hakuin Zenji wasn’t too bad. That is of course, depending on whether or not I had found said grounds and not some anonymous temple. The picture in the guide made it look a lot bigger than what it was so I am not too certain. Anyway, this proud little grounds featured below had some excellent example of stone work dragons and the gardens tall trees created a cool and mysterous mood to this place.

Possibly Hakuin Zenji

Stay tuned for part two of “The Hara-Ashitaka circuit.” Meanwhile check out my maps for some directions from my journey.  


Hiroshige. (2007, October 17). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 12:04, October 31, 2007, from

Numazu Tourist Association (publish date unknown) Numazu Tourist Gide Book; English; Numazu Tourist Association.




2 responses

6 11 2007

Hey Chris and Keiko,

There is quite a bit to enjoy in the Numazu area. My top five for a day in Numazu would be to head south of the station and check out the river. You can get some excellent shots of Fuji from Minatooh Bridge. If you are lucky you may even catch the reflection of Fuji of the river’s water.
I would also recommend a cuppa at the Tokyu Hotel lounge bar. The enormous bay windows overlooking the Kano River and Mt Kanuki are a sight.
Also check out View-O and the fish markets. View O is one of the largest tsunami gates in Japan. You can get a lift up to the top for 100yen and catch the view of Fuji, The Southern Alps, Suruga Bay, the Izu Peninsula and of course Numazu City.
Across the river is the Numazu Villa Park of the Imperial Families. This Park still has the original Meji period family holiday house of the imperial family.
My final recommendation is Mt Kanuki. While the leaves are only barely starting to change colour here, the the view from this spot is amazing. Of course the coexistence of somewhat tamed “wild” boar and a dozen or so stray cats provides an amusing backdrop for this short hike.

All the best

6 11 2007
Chris Thomas


Very amusing and warm keep up and good work! Good luck on the bike. I am Chris Thomas and I recently just moved here from Fukouka with my wife and son.
We have some time off this week. We are looking for some senic adventures we have been to quite a few place already . Gotemba was nice the shopping at the outlets…but can not afford that every week. Tommrow will be onsen and beach at Atami. If you have any further advise about the area. Were we could go? That would be great!We look foward to your next entry.
Chris and Keiko Thomas Kiyama. Keep on biking…..Yeah!

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