Kinkasan

Kinkazan seen from the Oshika peninsula

Kinkasan (金華山; also Kinkazan) is a small mountainous island at the tip of the Oshika Peninsula, not far from Sendai in Tohoku, Japan.

Understand

Literally meaning "Golden Flower Mountain", its spiritual significance and the fact that the island used to be a site for a brief gold prospecting boom ensure a steady stream of visitors eager for some good fortune to rub off. Kinkasan is considered one of the three holiest places in Tohoku region, along with Dewa Sanzan and Osorezan. Today little remains except an impressive Shinto shrine devoted to the gods of wealth, Ebisu and Daikoku. Women were actually banned on the island until the late 19th century, but today, for both sexes, an overnight stay is ideal for those seeking tranquility. According to legend, if you pay a visit to the shrine once a year for three consecutive years, you will have no financial difficulties for the rest of your life.

Get in

Kinkasan being an island, you'll have to take a ferry at some point, so the main question is choosing the ferry terminal.

By train

If traveling by train from Sendai, take the JR Senseki line to Ishinomaki, then change to the JR Ishinomaki line for Onagawa. From here, you can take a 35-minute ferry to Kinkasan. Ferries travel every 2 hours or so and cost ¥1,600 one way, ¥3,040 return.

By bus

Alternatively, you can take a 90-minute bus from Ishinomaki to the whaling town of Ayukawa, from where ferries ply to Kinkasan in 20 minutes (¥900). Services from here are more frequent, as often as every half hour in season with two competing operators.

Get around

Excluding a van ferrying guests up from the ferry to the shrine's ryokan, there is no motorized transport on the island, so you'll have to walk. Some ferry operators in Ayukawa offer sightseeing boat tours around the island, but there are no other points to disembark.

See

Koganeyama shrine

Do

Hiking in Kinkasan

Perhaps a better reason to visit is some fairly good hiking. Major trails head from the shrine to the summit (height 445m, distance 2.4 km) and around the entire island (around 25 km). With some luck you can spot Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata), troops of which roam about the island. Pick up a free map and leave plenty of time before you set off though, as the trails are not that well marked; if you get hopelessly lost, head down to the coastal trail.

Buy, Eat & Drink

Sleep

Many visitors stay in nearby Ayukawa, though there are lodging options here.

Stay safe

There are two endemic pests on the island: deer and leeches, both of which want to eat things you'd rather keep to yourself. When hiking, keep your trousers stuffed in your boots, and if you do spot leeches remember to use salt or fire to dislodge them, not brute force. Absolutely do not try to feed the deer or the monkeys.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, April 02, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.