Hiking Guide: Aburayama

Aburayama 油山 (597m)

A mountain getaway with something for everyone, right on the city’s doorstep
In addition to spectacular seasonal scenery, Fukuoka City’s tallest mountain and the park it encompasses offers some of the best outdoor facilities in the prefecture. This popular course takes in many of the main sites, including the suspension bridge and central lookout, and is perfect for beginners thanks to its well-maintained paths and excellent signage.


View Aburayama 油山 in a larger map

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Course Details
Aburayama bus stop > Chuo-hiroba > Aburayama > Chuo-hiroba > Aburayama bus stop

Level: Beginner-Intermediate
Time: 4~5 hours
Distance: ~10km
Elevation: 597m

Facilities
Toilets: Several
Signage: Plentiful (Japanese)
Water sources: 1, near the summit
Other: Benches, kiosk and vending machines, ropes course

Equipment
Shoes: Trail (recommended), Running (suitable)
Trekking pole: Not needed

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Getting there
There are two options for getting to the Aburayama (油山) bus stop from the Tenjin area. Both buses are bound for Hibaru-eigyosho (桧原営業所), cost ¥360 and take 30-40mins to reach Aburayama.

• BUS 13: From Tenjin-fukubirumae (12) (天神福ビル前(12)) or any other stops along Meiji-dori
OR
• BUS 113: From Tenjin-ichome (天神一丁目) or any other stops along Kokutai-doro.

*A special temporary bus runs into the park 6 times daily on weekends between March-November, eliminating the first part of the hike. For more information see the link below (Japanese).
http://www.shimi-mori.com/access.html#

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The hike
While the standard hike of Aburayama begins at the central area inside the Shimin-no-mori (市民の森) park, access by public transport is limited to weekends (see Getting there). As such, this course includes the walk up from the closest bus stop at the foot of the mountain, which more than doubles the distance of the regular trail.

STAGE 1: Aburayama bus stop > Chuo-hiroba
Alighting at Aburayama bus stop, cross the road aiming for the sign to the left and cut through the car park in the direction of the arrow. On the other side is a small road leading through a residential area. Follow it as it starts gently uphill.

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The road shortly comes to a fork amongst the houses – follow it right as it continues climbing slowly. The tall green nets of Hakata Technical High School can be seen on the hill to the right, and before long the Aburayama Golf Course will flank the path on the left. Here the road peters out to a gravel track and cuts through the trees behind the golf course.

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When it eventually rejoins the paved road, follow it to the left and climb the small hill to the entrance of Shimin-no-Mori (市民の森). Pedestrians can walk straight past the guard house and into the park. While keeping an eye out for traffic, follow this main road up as it leads to the main office in the Chuo-hiroba 中央広場 (central area).

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The road will pass a small bridge and waterfall on the right, as well as a bench for short rest. Continue to take the road around the bends until it comes upon a set of stone stairs amongst the trees. Follow the signs and take this shortcut, which rejoins the road again after a short climb. Across the road to the left will be another set of stairs that emerge out onto the central carpark.

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A path skirts the vast carpark along the left, then climbs up to another road before a flight of stairs leads the main office and the Chuo-hiroba. This area includes toilets, benches, a kiosk, as well as plenty of information on the park and its facilities (in Japanese). On the opposite side of the Chuo-hiroba to where you came up lies the starting point of the trail up to the top of Aburayama.

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STAGE 2: Chuo-hiroba > Aburayama
The first part of the trail climbs via a ropes course, the アスレチック, which consists of seven different stations. Completing them is entirely optional, as a convential path also meanders around the stations and up to the top. Above the final station there is a junction, and a set of steps ascend to the right.

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Take the road at the top of the stairs to the left for the suspension bridge, or つる橋.

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After the bridge go left again, where the path runs past a set of toilets (the only one until the return to Chuo-hiroba). Behind these is another junction, with signs pointing to the summit (山頂).

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From here up to the summit several paths periodically criss-cross each other, but generally head in the same direction. At major points where they cross, signs will indicate a junction (分岐). The main path consists mainly of steps in the shape of logs, while the side paths are just trodden dirt and usually marked by red tape on surrounding trees. If in doubt, stick to the main path and follow the signs to the summit.

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Near the sign indicating point 85, an information board stands at the fork of two paths – take the one with the steps to the left. These steps will continue to mark the main path amongst the trees until the summit.

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Just below the final junction is a white sign indicating the route to the summit. Directly behind this is a smaller wooden sign that points out the trail’s only water source (水場). Take the time to refill before heading back to the main path.

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The last junction is only a short distance from the top – take the path left and before long the trail will emerge on the shady summit. If you manage to get some bench space take a moment to enjoy the view of Fukuoka City below.

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STAGE 3: Aburayama > Chuo-hiroba > Aburayama bus stop
The route back down to the Chuo-hiroba is longer than the way up, but the broad paths and plentiful steps allow you to make quick work of it. Head back to the last junction but this time go straight through. Any side trails along the way will have signs – take the paths in the direction of Shimin-no-mori (市民の森).

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Before completing the loop back down, keep an eye on the signs that will indicating a smaller side path to the central lookout (中央展望台). A short way down this path will be a clearing with a bench and a view of the town below. Don’t be disappointed – the real lookout is further down and can be seen through the trees to the right.

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The central lookout has a main room with places to rest but climb the spiral staircase to the roof for a 360 degree panorama of the area.

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A small sign near lookout points to the Chuo-hiroba. This last section has many trees that bloom seasonally, including sakura (cherry blossoms). Follow the path through this grove and the main office should soon come into view.

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Feel free to make use of the kiosk before retracing your steps back down to the bus stop via the Shimin-no-mori entrance. The only difference in the route is at the very end – the bus stop to catch the 13 back to Tenjin is around the corner from where you started the trip

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Comments & Tips
• The 1-hour walk from the bus stop to the main office of the park doesn’t include any convenience stores or vending machines, so take enough water along to get you there. Thankfully the park’s central area has a kiosk and plenty of beverage options to refuel before you head to the top.
• Near the Shimin-no-Mori entrance, a small path diverges away from the road behind the toilet building to the right. This more or less parallels the road but don’t be tempted to leave the roadside for a walk in the woods – this trail is not particularly well-trodden so expect to be battling numerous spider webs in the warmer months. The road offers a much easier path to the central area.
• Outside the main office is a basket of bamboo poles, as well as maps of the route printed on yellow paper. The poles are free to use (just make sure you return them when you return) and even though the map is in Japanese, one side shows the easy-to-follow numbering system used to locate your whereabouts on the trail.
• If they are not in the hands of groups of kids, the various toys/activities scattered outside the main office are also free to use, including archery, hoop throwing and others.

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• From the ropes up to the summit, there often appear to be a confusing number of trails and paths intersecting the main course from various directions. Keep a close eye on the signs but don’t worry – the majority of these go in the same direction and usually offer an alternative from the countless stairs on the main path.
• There are three paths descending down from the Aburayama summit. In addition to the one you climbed, one goes down the central area via the camp site while another connects to Arahira-yama. The latter is not recommended for beginners – the path includes a steep descent and is not maintained or signed like the other trails on the course. With no view through the trees, the summit of Arahira-yama offers little to make the effort worthwhile.

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Author: Kamil Spychalski
Kamil Spychalski is an Australian resident of Fukuoka and recently turned hiking fanatic. Since last year Kam’s been exploring many of the great hiking trails near and not so near to Fukuoka. Each month he will share details of his recommended trails for beginners and the more advanced.

►Full Hiking Guide here.

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Originally written for Fukuoka Now August 2013.
NOTE: The information presented here was gathered and summarized by Fukuoka Now staff. While we have done our best to check for accuracy there is a possible of error and facility details may change. If you notice any errors or changes please contact us. This report was originally written in August of 2013.

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