Hiking Guide: Tachibana-yama and Mikazuki-yama

Tachibana-yama 立花山 (367m) and Mikazuki-yama 三日月山 (272m)

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The perfect beginning for hiking hopefuls
This course is ideal for those looking for a place to start out, or even experienced hikers looking for an after-work getaway within the city. With popular, well-marked trails that manage to offer a good taste of the prefecture’s longer hikes, these two mountains in Higashi-ku also boast fantastic summit views of Fukuoka City.


View Tachibana-yama 立花山 & Mikazuki-yama 三日月山 in a larger map

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Course Details
Shimobaru bus stop > Tachibana-yama > Mikazuki-yama > Shimobaru bus stop

Level: Beginner
Time: 2~3 hours
Distance: ~5km
Elevation: Tachibana 367m Mikazuki 272m

Facilities
• Toilets: No
• Signage: Plentiful (Japanese)
• Water sources: 1, near the start of the Tachibana-yama trail
• Other: Some benches along the route, trail register/photo board

Equipment
• Shoes: Trail (recommended), Running (suitable), Trekking (okay)
• Trekking pole: Not needed in fine weather

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Getting there
• BUS: From Tenjin Yubinkyoku-mae (18) (天神郵便局前(18)) bus stop, Nishitetsu bus 23 (45 min) or 23B (35 min) bound for Shimobaru (下原), the last stop (¥450).
or
• TRAIN/BUS: Take the JR or Nishitetsu lines to Kashii (香椎) to connect with the 23 or 23B. Both buses take 10 mins to Shimobaru (¥160) from Nishitetsu Kashii-ekimae (西鉄香椎駅前) bus stop, between the JR and Nishitetsu.

bus

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The hike
From the Shimobaru bus stop, the circuit of the two mountains can take anywhere from an hour to an afternoon, depending on fitness and experience level. First time visitors should allow for at least 2-3 hours, which allows time to take it easy on the trail and also enjoy a nice lunch on the summit.

STAGE 1: Shimobaru bus stop > Tachibana-yama
A sign next to the bus stop at Shimobaru will point you in the direction of the trail. Follow this straight up the paved road into the residential area.

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Keep heading straight up the road until it forks at a small fruit plantation. Take the road left and continue along as it gets steeper and the houses give way to rice fields.

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After some 10-15 minutes the road will come to the start of the forest and a sign pointing to the Tachibana-yama trail. Follow the sign to the right, taking a moment to stop at the small shrine to the mountain gods.

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The trail turns from gravel to well-trodden dirt as it heads into the woods, and is soon surrounded by tall cedar trees on both sides. Shortly it comes to a small stone shrine beside a creek, which is mostly dry in summer. Luckily, just a little further up the trail is the hike’s only water source.

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From here the trail gets steeper, with many rocks and tree roots, but there’s no risk of getting lost. There is even the occasional bench if the going gets tough. The next landmark is the junction between Tachibana and Mikazuki, marked by plenty of signage. The shortest route to the top of Tachibana-yama is directly to the left – don’t confuse it with the 立花口 (Tachibana-guchi) trail that heads off in a different direction.

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From the junction it’s only 240m to the top of Tachibana-yama, but it can get a little steep. Just shy of the summit the trail diverges into two sections – the steeper (100m) and the nadaraka, or gentle (150m). Take the latter for a little change of scenery by heading left and before long it will come out onto the top of Tachibana-yama.

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On a sunny day the view extends over most of Fukuoka City, but it also draws its fair share of visitors. If it’s crowded, take a few minutes to enjoy the view and continue on to Mikazuki-yama for a quieter lunch spot.

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STAGE 2: Tachibana-yama & Mikazuki-yama

Return to the path you took up to the summit and head back down. Again, the choice is between the steeper/shorter section and the nadaraka route. Backtracking to the junction shouldn’t take long and from there it’s an easy 600m to Mikazuki-yama. Halfway along is a board with photos taken in the area, as well as comments from hikers.

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Just below the summit of Mikazuki-yama the path diverges – take the roped path to the left and then go right after a short climb. The path soon climbs to the right again before emerging onto the broad treeless summit.

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STAGE 3: Mikazuki-yama & Shimobaru

Backtrack to the last junction and follow the roped trail downhill to the left, where it encounters another diversion and a small wooden sign indicating the Mikazuki Cemetery (top) and the route back to Shimobaru. The trail down is rather straightforward, descending eventually back into the cedars before rejoining a paved road.

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Stepping out of the forest, the road back to Shimobaru lies straight ahead before curving to the right. Follow this as it heads back down amongst the houses. This will intersect with a main road just as a small stream comes into view – cross over the bridge and, with the two mountains on your right, take this all the way back to the bus stop.

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Comments & Tips
• There is a convenience store near the Shimobaru bus stop. Head back in the direction the bus came and it should come into view across the road.
• Getting from the bus stop to the trail may be the hardest bit of navigating of the whole hike, so don’t get distracted by the surroundings.
• Don’t despair if your lungs and legs are complaining before you even hit the trailhead – you should soon get used to the incline and settle into a steady rhythm. Depending on fitness level, the first 10-20 minutes of a hike can often feel quite strenuous as the body warms up, so it’s best not to push too hard at the beginning.
• Just past the shrine at the start of the trail, have a quick look around for discarded bamboo. They are often left behind by other hikers and can be a great substitute for a trekking pole.
• While the water source usually has a bowl underneath the bamboo pipe, avoid this and make sure to fill up from the flowing water instead.
• Even if the trail itself isn’t very crowded, the Tachibana-yama summit can get rather congested. This is also the spot where you’re most likely to get chatted up by groups of extra-genki old ladies clad in the latest brightly-colored hiking gear.
• The Tachibana half of the course is more strenuous than the traverse to Mikazuki, so don’t give up if you’re tired after making the summit – the hardest part is behind you.
• Some signs around Mikazuki-yama may read 三ヶ月 instead of the usual 三日月, even though they are referring to the same place.
• The Mikazuki summit is much broader and usually less crowded than Tachibana-yama. Looking to the north you can see the latter looming overhead.
• If you picked up a bamboo pole on the way in, drop it off near the fence as you come out of the trees at the bottom of Mikazuki-yama, for anyone doing the course in reverse.
• Since Shimobaru is the start/end of the bus route, you may find driverless buses waiting near the stop, sometimes for 15 minutes or more. Check the departure time on the board before jumping on – you might have enough time to go across the road to the convenience store.

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alps-kam

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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