Most frequently mentioned on my blogs how difficult the access on some of the places I been to, Oze National Park without any doubt deserves to be filed under this category.
Commuting from Tokyo requires you to take a bullet train or local trains to reach Numata Station, then transfer to a bus that only departs hourly to reach Tokura. From Tokura, you need to take another 45 minutes bus journey to reach the Hatomachitoge trail. I know, it is kind of confusing and a long 4 hours one-way journey for a day trip.
So I searched for another, more sensible option- a bus that will departs from Shinjuku towards Tokura or Oshimizu and found Kan-etsu Kotsu bus company. For a roundtrip fee of 7,000 Yen, I booked a ticket together with a female friend from the office. I must say, even the bus schedule is not flexible for a day trip, with only 2 bus departing each day.
Once again, a mistake on my end was under-estimating Japanese holidays. What could have been a “sleep on the bus” journey with expected 11:00am arrival time turn out to be 12:30pm actual arrival time due to the traffic jam somewhere along the highway between Saitama and Niigata.
Stuck in the bus with a mild anxiety attack, I kept on thinking if we will manage to see Oze and be able to catch the 4pm return trip to Shinjuku. But then again, the idea stuck in my mind that Oze is only a marshland, so it will be just like a walk in the park and there was no need for me to worry.
The unexpected traffic jam resulted to a change in plan that triggers a series of events including the last minute change in decision to go for Oshimizu trailhead instead of Hatomachitoge trail. I have no idea what to expect with Oshimuzu trail apart from a view of a pond, so again a silly notion of a “walk in a marshland” has entered my mind.
Of course, I was wrong. It was not a walk in the marshland, instead it was 14km total, almost 3.5 hours endless walks along wooden planks (new and broken), surprisingly climbed a mountain and without realizing reached a total elevation of almost 1700m.
From there, a few steps to the actual climbing journey. Though, the trail is relatively easy, the anxiousness of failing to catch the return bus to Shinjuku makes the climb even harder. But, we made a decision that we will finish this hike and see how it goes later.
Across the pond is the now famous nuclear disaster area of Fukushima prefecture, where I overheard some of the trail runners planning to circle around.
I am happy to inform you that we fail to catch the bus by a mere 10 minutes. Stuck at Oshimizu with no other means of public transportation, we resorted to the oldest trick of desperation- hitchhike our way back to Tokyo.
With few attempts and several turn downs, we finally met two 26 years old, helpful Otaku guys who were on their way back to Saitama. Bless these two guys, my collegue and I managed to arrive at our respective apartments safe and sound.
It was my first time to hitchhike anywhere. If this is not Japan, I would rather sleep at the wooden planks than took a ride with strangers.