Tenpaizan 天拝山 (258m)
Tenpaizan is a perfect hike for those wanting to explore some of Fukuoka’s beautiful non-urban landscapes but who don’t want to take a Bear Grylls approach towards nature. Popular with local hikers, this forested trail provides a cool, shaded walk even on hot days.
Tenpaizan Historical Natural Park > Tenpaizan > Tenpaizan Historical Natural Park
• Time: 1-2 hours
• Distance: ~4km
• Elevation: Tenpaizan (258m)
• Toilets: At the base
• Signage: Everywhere, though in Japanese
• Water sources: Water fountain in the National Park Center
• Other: Some benches along the route, map boards
• Shoes: Running Shoes or Walking Boots
• Walking pole: Could be useful for the descent, but not necessary.
Walk: Tenpaizan Historical Natural Park is an easy 20 minute walk from Futsukaichi JR Station
Drive: There is a car and bicycle park in Tenpaizan Historical Natural Park
The trailhead for Tenpaizan is located inside the Tenpaizan Historical Natural Park. Upon entering the park, there are two well manicured lawns with a wide stone path running between them. To the left of these lawns is a set of stairs that lead to the start of the trail. Follow these stairs up to the top and you will find yourself in a shaded picnic area which serves as a lovely spot to have lunch. Take the path bearing to the right through this area and you will find yourself on a wide and well-trodden gravel path. Turn left onto this path and start your ascent up the mountain.
You will soon come across a magnificent Torii gate which marks the trailhead proper. Next to this is a map board which details the routes to the summit. This guide follows the map in a clockwise direction. Shortly after the gate the path splits in three directions (a bridge and two paths). Follow the path that loops around to the left. From here few directions are needed to get to the summit as the path does not diverge or split at any point. Simply follow this gravel path up the mountain. Offshoots do exist from the main trail, but these tend to just skip corners and are not truly alternate paths.
About halfway up the mountain there is a signpost to the Araho Shrine (荒穂神社). The shrine is well worth a visit (it can be seen from the path) and doubles as a rest stop. To the left of the shrine is a small set of stairs which will take you a more interesting and less trodden route back to the main path to continue your ascent, otherwise just return to the main path the way you came. Another small shrine is located on the alternate path, hidden in some rocks to the right of the trail. Look out for the wild cats (not big cats) who roam the area behind the shrine and can be seen stalking through the forest.
Ten minutes further along the trail there is a second rest point with maps to update you on your progress and guide you to the summit. From this point, the route turns into manmade stairs until the top, gentle at first but becoming steeper as you approach the top. It takes 10-15 minutes to reach the summit from this point and there are several benches along the way if the incline starts to take its toll.
At the summit there is another shrine and a James Bond villain-esque viewing platform that offers impressive views over Fukuoka. The extra height of the viewing platform gives a clear line of sight above the trees all the way to the sea in the north.
There are two options for descending the mountain. The first and easiest is the ascent route, following the stairs and gravel path to the base. The second option is the more interesting of the two, but physically more demanding as it is both steeper and less trodden than its alternative. If you have weak knees or you’re just tired, it is probably best to return down the main path. Alternatively, If you don’t want to do the same route twice, follow this guide in reverse and make the more difficult descent an easier ascent.
Warning aside, this route is beautiful and has several interesting landmarks along the way. The path starts behind the shrine, next to the stairs leading up to the viewing platform.
Follow this down to where it splits at which point take the left hand path. This will curve round to the left before doubling back on itself.
Stay on this path and keep descending until you reach a well signposted crossroad. Take the right hand path and continue down the steps.
Eventually the steps will peter out and you will find yourself on a ridge. To your right you can peer through the trees and catch a glimpse of the ascent, while to the left you will see dense forest. As you walk across this ridge you may hear the trickle of water which marks the presence of a waterfall. A path to the left of the main track will take you down to this waterfall (again the fall is within viewing distance of the main track) where you will see rock figurines guarding the spring.
Return to the path and continue onwards. It will turn into steps again until you are confronted by another three-way split. Take the right hand path and you will find yourself crossing a bridge you may have noticed at the beginning of the hike, back onto the gravel path. Follow this down back towards the Nature Center. Before turning back through the picnic area and the end of the walk, follow the gravel path just slightly further down the mountain where there is another impressive shrine and a slightly larger waterfall to the left of the path. Detour complete, head back to the National Park Center and the end of the hike!
Author: Oscar Boyd
Oscar is a student from London, UK. He is a keen hiker and aims to summit every mountain in Fukuoka visible from his bedroom window. If you have any suggestions contact him on Twitter @omhboyd
Originally hiked and written for Fukuoka Now in October 2014
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.