Monday, May 1st, 2023

A hike across the Uma no Se – the ridge I can see from my window

Photograph of a alleyway in Itayado

For more than 2 years I've looked out of my office window at a mountain and thought, "I should hike that." The ridge is called Uma No Se - horseback - which is understandable given how it looks. A saddle of brown exposed rock sits between the green of the mountains.

The first ascent

The trail starts at the TsuTsuji bridge with a monumental climb. It's nice of the city to provide stairs, but that's close to a 200 metre ascent that takes its toll on calfs and thighs.

Photograph of a steep concrete stairway leading up into the mountains

The trail

However, once you're past the shock of the stairs, the trail settles into a relaxing mountain path through trees with regular spots to pause and occasional benches. It's a pleasant walk, not quite a stroll as there are some steep slopes to navigate, occasionally supported with chains. But the views are worth it. On the other side of the ridge the path is even more relaxed as steep mountain gives way to rolling foothills.

Uma no se

The highlight is the Uma no Se ridge. The trees thin and the trail becomes rocky as you get closer. Then comes the shock of seeing a rickety set of stairs leading down a sheer cliff face to the ridge itself. Approaches are reasonably wide, but the ridge is quite narrow, steep on either side and runs for 20-30 metres. Two people can pass side-by-side, although it is a bit hairy and for the most part hikers prefer to wait until the path is clear.

It's not until you're past the ridge and look back that you realise quite how narrow and exposed it is. If you look closely at the photo below, the small black line in the centre is the staircase I was at when I took the first photo in the gallery above.

Photograph looking at the ridge crossed by a small hiking path

Down into Itayado

The rest of the hike is relatively easy with a couple of steep slopes, but mostly comfortable walking territory. It leads down into the Hachiman Shrine. There are spectacular views out across Itayado, made more beautiful as I arrived during Sakura season.

And home

All that was left was the descent to the Myohoji River and the 3km walk home.

Photograph of a alleyway in Itayado

It took about 3 and a half hours with a splattering of stops for photos and a 15 minute pause for a spot of lunch.

A thoroughly enjoyable, if occasionally hard, hike and one I'll be happy to do again.

My name is Ross Hori

I'm a freelance writer, designer and photographer. By day I create articles, features and reports. At night I take photos and write fiction. Find out more.