Posted by Heliocentrism on October 23, 2016
Thursday, September 22, 2016
Mark and I had a day off in the middle of the week. Japan likes to give its citizens these mid-week holidays. Long weekends are rare and we just can’t have too many of that sort of thing. People might go on a trip somewhere and, god forbid, stop thinking about work.
What made this mid-week holiday worse was the half-assed rain. I am an adamant believer that it should either rain or it should not. It shouldn’t sort of rain for five minutes, then let the sun shine for ten minutes, only to turn into a monsoon fifteen minutes after that. How does one dress for this type of weather? Whether the sky wanted to smile, weep, sob its heart out, or all three, Mark and I were determined not to stay home and sleep, which is the usual past time for mid-week holiday makers in Japan.
We drove to the Hiroshima adjacent prefecture of Shimane to the little town of Oda. Our first stop was at the Sanbe‑Azukihara Buried Forest, where some really old trees were discovered. I was hoping to find petrified wood, but this forest has not quite gotten there yet. The wood of the trees looked more like charcoal rather than stone.
We were given many opportunities to learn how and why this underground forest was found and dug up. However, the explanations were only given in Japanese. We had to make our own story. It’s a story about a man named Jed. He was a poor mountaineer who barely kept his family fed. One day he was shooting at some food and up through the ground come an old tree, coal that is. (I watch too much television.)
We walked through the two underground bunkers then gazed at the trees above ground. After 15 minutes of not being able to read anything, we got back in our car to go get some breakfast.
Sanbe Burger sells only products made with local ingredients. When you’re eating a Sanbe-Burger Burger, you are eating Shimane Prefecture. The cows for the beef graze on Mt. Sanbe. The tomatoes were grown in, maybe, Matsue City. The cheese was made in, maybe, Izumo. I think only the ketchup is imported, but what kind of cretin puts ketchup on a burger!?
We ate our burgers and enjoyed the view. There was a building across the street that was attracting a lot of tourists. I had a brochure of Mt. Sanbe; its pages had no information on what the popular building was. We would have to walk over there to check it out in person.
We crossed the road and before we even got up the steps we saw a poster that said, “Jurassic Sea”. “That could only mean good things,” Mark said. We went inside to find the Natural History Museum of Mt. Sanbe.
We saw Mt. Sanbe’s evolutionary history. Not only were there old trees found here, but old animals too. I really liked this museum. I would have loved it if there were more information in English. Mark and I had to reply heavily on scientific names being written in Romaji or at the very least Katakana or Hiragana.
We did get to see lots of fossils and a skeleton of a plesiosaur. There is also an observatory, but we would need reservations and to stay in Oda City overnight to enjoy that. Maybe in the future if I can figure out how to make reservations…
Next we headed for the main feature of this day trip, Mt. Sanbe. From the base of Mt. Sanbe, there are many courses to get you to one of the many peaks. Courses take anywhere from 1.5 hours to 2 hours to hike up.
I knew that it was unthinkable for Mark to spend hours hiking up a non-famous mountain. Once he left Korea, he hung up his hiking boots and never looked back. I, on the other hand, really wanted to go hiking even though I’m completely out of shape.
So, the course we took to get to the top of Mt. Sanbe first involved buying tickets for a chair lift. From there the biggest peak was a 20 minute hike away and the closest was 2 minutes.
Mark happily climbed to the 2 minute peak. He smiled and took photos. “I’m going to tell everyone I hiked up this mountain. Look how high up I got!” He seem very joyous as he took selfies this way and that way.
“Do you see that over there, Mark?” I pointed to a lookout platform higher up than we were. “That’s what’s at the end of the 20 minute course.” I looked at Mark waiting for him to understand what I was trying to get him to do.
“But this peak is really nice, Josie. There are picnic tables, a sign. And look, a plaque. I like this peak.”
“Maybe that higher peak also has another plaque…” It didn’t.
“But, who needs to see more than one plaque in a day. Nope. I’m a one plaque a day kind of guy, Josie. Besides, isn’t this view just as good as that one?”
“I don’t think so, Mark. That view is higher up. It will probably let you see more stuff.” In the end I got him to go up the 20 minute trail by bribing him with an apple. This is Japan, you can get people to do what you want by handing out free fruit.
The 20 minute trail took us a little over 20 minutes. It rained off and on throughout the day making the ground muddy and slippery. There were several near falls and almost slides, but we got to the top without anyone taking a tumble.
“Wow, this is great!” Mark walked around taking more selfies and panoramic photos. “This is way better than that crummy 2 minute peak.”
I saw a sign post. Said that the next peak was a mere 60 minute hike away. I had no interest in that trail. 60 minutes there and 60 minutes back plus another 15 minutes to get back to the chair lift. I have an adventurous spirit, not a death wish!
How to get there:
You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.
Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.
- Emergency Numbers:
- Police 110
- Ambulance and Fire 119
- Important phone numbers to know while in Japan
- Comfort Woman
- The Commoner
- Empire of the Sun
- Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
- Geisha, a Life
- Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission
- The Last Concubine
- Memoirs of a Geisha
- Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath
- Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
- Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan. Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
- International ATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask what ATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
- ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
- The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
- You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)
Sanbe-Azukihara Buried Forest
(Sanbe Azukihara Maibotsurin Koen)
- Coordinates 35°10’37.1″N 132°36’02.6″E
- 〒694-0003 Shimane-ken, Ōda-shi, Sanbechō Tane, ロ５８−2
- 9am-5pm (Last Entry 4:30pm)
- Closed 1st Monday to Friday of December, New Year holidays
- This museum is not very big.
- Coordinates 35°09’13.1″N 132°37’17.7″E
- 1125-2 Sanbecho Tane, Oda, Shimane Prefecture 694-0003
- 〒694-0003 島根県大田市三瓶町多根1125-2
- Closed Tuesday
- Only local ingredients are used at this burger shop.
Natural History Museum of Mt. Sanbe
(Shimane Ken Ritsu Sanbe Shi Zenkan Sahimeru)
- Coordinates 35°09’09.9″N 132°37’15.0″E
- 島根県立三瓶自然館サヒメル, 〒694-0003 Shimane Prefecture, Oda, 三瓶町多根１１２１−８
- 1121-8, Tane, Sanbe-cho, Ooda City, Shimane Prefecture, Japan 694-0003
- +81-854-86-0500 (Overseas)
- 0854-86-0500 (Domestic)
- Adults 400yen (special exhibition cost extra)
- Children (6-18) 200yen
- Every Tuesday (next weekday is closed when Tuesday is a holiday)
- 5 consecutive days from the first Monday of March and December and the next day when a special exhibition was finished
- winter holidays from December 29 – January 1 inclusive
- There is very little (almost no) information in English.
(Mt. Sanbe Chair Lift)
(Sanbe Kankō Rifuto)
- Coordinates 35°07’42.0″N 132°38’26.5″E
- 〒694-0222 Shimane Prefecture, Oda, 三瓶町志学1640−2
- Mt. Sanbe PDF
- Oda City Guide Book Page 1-3
- Oda City Guide Book Page 4-5
- Oda City Guide Book Page 6-7
- Shimane Pamphet
- ¥670 round trip
- April to November
- Closed on Tuesdays
- From where the chair lift leaves you:
- It’s a 3 minute hike to the nearest peak.
- It’s a 20 minute hike to the nearest high peak.