One of the highest mountains in Iwate
The Mt. Hayachine area consists of several peaks, notably its 1917m-high summit, Kengamine to the east and Nakadake and Keitosan to the west, extending over more than 10 kilometers. Mt. Hayachine is the highest peak in the Kitakami mountain range, and is counted in the book, “One Hundred Mountains in Japan” by Fukada Kyuya (1903-1971).
The neighbors of the mountain, as well as the lord of the Morioka domain, felt deep reverence for it as a site of ancient mountain worship.
The appeal of this mountain lies in its various kinds of alpine flora, starting with Hayachine Usu Yuki So. Hikers are fascinated by such pretty flora growing and blooming in the harsh natural environment.
The area of this precious mountain and Mt. Yakushidake, a mountain south of Hayachine, is designated as a special natural treasure and a quasi-national park, and great care is taken to conserve its environment.
Although you can climb the mountain in a relatively short time, you should make a detailed plan and take enough equipment as conditions can become dangerous due to the weather.
The view from the top of the mountain is magnificent: a field of alpine flowers, a dense forest below, and the ridge lines of Mt. Yakushidake to the south. Around the summit, there are many oddly-shaped rocks which have become objects of religious faith. “Buchi Ishi”, located in the middle of the Kawara no Bo trail (see the picture above), has a folk story about a tengu (long-nosed goblin) that hit his head on this rock.
[Popular trails in Hayachine]
Kawara no Bo trail
Take –> 2 hrs –> Kawara no Bo -> 3 hrs -> summit -> 2.5 hrs -> Kawara no Bo -> 1.5 hrs -> Take
This is the shortest but steepest trail from the front side of the mountain.
Take -> 2 hrs -> Kawara no Bo -> 50 min -> Odagoe -> 2.5 hrs -> summit -> 1.5 hrs -> 40 min -> Kawara no Bo -> 1.5 hrs -> Take
This is the most popular trail. The alpine belt is reached from about the 10% point of the trail allowing hikers to enjoy a lot of alpine flora in summer.
Besides the trails above, there are several others:
Keitosan trail - you have to walk through some dwarf bamboo brush.
Traverse trail - the trail through Mt. Hayachine, Mt. Nakadake and Mt. Keitosan is suited for hardy hikers
To prevent traffic jams around Mt. Hayachine, the local government stops traffic at the bottom of the mountain on Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays between the middle of June and the beginning of August. Please check out the bus system as you need to ride a bus to reach the trailheads on the days above.
Hayachine Usu Yuki So (Asteraceae)
The symbolic alpine plant of Hayachine is an endemic species. It grows in the middle of the alpine belt and blooms between July and August. Named “Usu (thin) Yuki (snow) So (grass; plant)” as its leaves are covered by very fine white hairs that look like a thin layer of snow.
Nambu Tora no O (Polygonaceae)
Blooms between July and August and rarely in September. It grows in the grass and gravel all over the alpine belt. It grows to about 20cm high and has “Tora no O (tiger tail)”-shaped pink flowers. (endemic species of Hayachine)
Nambu Touchi So (Rosaceae)
Blooms between July and August. Has close-set, red-purple flowers that look like an ear of wheat. Grows in the grass and rocky slopes on the southern side of the alpine belt. Named “Touchi” because the shape of its flower is similar to touchi, a braided rope that was imported from China in ancient times.(endemic species of Hayachine)
Hime Kozakura (Primulaceae)
Blooming in June, it freckles the grass on the southern slope of the alpine belt. As the name describes (Hime = princess, or sometimes smaller, Ko = small, sakura = cherry blossom), it has white flowers with five petals and a diameter of about 1cm. Named “Sakura” because its flowers are similar. (endemic species of the Kitakami mountain range)