Search Map It! Okinawa

Thursday, December 27, 2012

"Awa-dake"

On the far left is Awa's 1st peak and near left of middle is Awa's summit. Yae is in the middle, with Katsuu and Furushi to the right.


View Map It! Okinawa in a larger map
Awa-dake
     GPS
     LatitudeLongitude
     N 26 37.247E 127 56.184

        *GPS to Parking Area




Awa-dake

Across from Yae and Katsuu sits their smaller sister Awa, which is only about 20 meters shy of both her siblings – Yae-dake being the tallest at 454 meters and Katsuu at 452 meters. But the climb to the top of Awa is what sets her apart from her sisters. It takes about 5-6 hours to complete the entire Awa loop which is composed of two prominent peaks that define the Awa-dake mountain range. This time window includes a little exploring that you will be doing mid-way as you search out some of the caves along the way. Because the length of time it takes to complete the Awa trail please read the entire post. There are some safety considerations that must be taken into account.

Summary Information.
Name: Awa-dake
Elevation of the Highest Point. 432 meters (1417 feet)(1)
First Peak Coordinate: GPS N26 37.507 E127 55.798
Second Peak (Highest) Coordinate: GPS N26 37.768 E127 55.719
Starting Point Coordinate: GPS N 26 37.248 E 127 56.195 (Katsuyama Community Center)
Estimated Time for Completion: 5– 6 hours (to complete the entire trail loop, this includes exploring midway).
Parking Area Area: Same as starting point
Recommended Emergency Rendezvous Point: Same as starting point
Trail. Trail is marked off by colored tape.
Trail Map: 8.5 x 11 inch PDF (Full ColorReduced Color), JPG (Full ColorReduced Color).

Safety and Planning Considerations (Must Read!!!).
Time of year. Hiking any hilltop or mountain range in Okinawa will be challenging during the summer season. The most enjoyable time is during the colder months. If you do climb Awa during the warm/hot season it is guaranteed that your body will lose tremendous amounts of water....guaranteed. This is especially true during the first hour of the hike as you will trapped along with the heat contained by the forest jungle partway. Recommend you hydrate the day before and bring at least 4 liters of water with you, along with some nourishments to replenish the electrolytes in your body. Though Awa is nothing like climbing Mount Fuji in Japan, the heat will rip you apart. And because you have to bring large amounts of water and nourishments, this will add to the weight of your pack further wearing you down. You will probably know within the first hour of the hike if you think you can finish the entire loop. If at anytime you feel like that you cannot complete the entire loop, then turn back and try again at another time. Do not take this hike lightly.
Hours in the day. Because this entire loop takes about 5-6 hours, you have to make sure you leave yourself enough time to come back before dark. Departing in the morning is the best time.

Awa-dake Hiking Sequence. Please read the following hiking sequence. Part of this trail is shared by the trail that takes you to Furushi-dake. You can also print an 8.5 x 11 inch PDF/JPG trail map above to get an idea of the trail layout as you review the hiking sequence.

1. Parking. Park your car at the Katsuyama Community Center (Green Thumbtack above). This is important. Do not park near the trail's main entrance. This will make it difficult for farmers to bring in their equipment to attend their crops.
2. From the community center, you have to walk towards the main trail entrance that is designated  by this sign (see also trail map and the map above).
3. From the main entrance, you will be walking almost due north about 500 meters till you reach a juncture in the trail. Along this stretch, you will pass through orchards on both sides and then the trail slowly creeps into the jungle forest.
4. The trail juncture. Towards the end of the 500 meter stretch, you will be inside the forest jungle. You have to keep your eyes open for color tape tied around tree branches on both sides of the trail. There may be small wood signs directing you the way, but this may not always be the case. The trail juncture splits into three separate trails. The trail to the left takes you clockwise to Awa-dake, the trail in the middle takes you counter-clockwise to Awa-dake, and the trail to the right takes you to Furushi-dake.  As a personal recommendation, taking the Awa-trail clockwise will be more enjoyable.
5. The First Cave. You will run into the first cave within the hour if you take the trail clockwise. There is a wood sign next to it and says that it was used by the Japanese soldiers during World War II. The cave is actually a three level cave. You have to be very careful inside since the outer walls are very loose, and with all the ruble, there is potential of tripping and falling.
6. The Second Cave. Before you reach the first peak you may see a small wooden sign that points you to the second cave. This sign is small. Keep your eyes open for colored tape along the trail that deviates from the main trail. According to the Katsuyama district guide pamphlet this is the story behind the second cave:
Long ago, men who had once worked for the Shuri King came to live in the Katsuyama area. At first, the village people had welcomed them. Initially, the men from Shuri worked with the villagers, but later they became distraught and lazy. They had lost all motivation with their new life, and so they started pillaging from the people and even kidnapped some of the village women. They would hide up in this cave on the Awa mountain side and use it as a base to conduct their sinister activities. As a result, the villagers then concocted a plan that would scare off the bandits forever. In the dark of night, a great number of villagers had set flags on fire mimicking soldiers coming from the south. Out of fear, the bandits fled never to return. These bandits where known as the Sanzoku bandits and their leader was a man that went by the name Kochi Satonoshi (2).
7. The First Peak. The first peak takes about an hour and half to get to. This includes water and rest breaks along the way and the time you will spend exploring the caves.
8. The Second Peak. This is Awa-dake's summit. It is about another hour from the first peak.
9. The Return Trail. The trail continues past the second peak. The trail is not as distinct on this end, and you must keep your eyes open for color tape that marks the path back. It takes about another 1 and half hour to return to the starting point.

Recommended Guidelines (PLEASE READ!!!).
1. Age. Climbing is suitable for young adults who have good agility, mental awareness, and are physically fit. Parents must use their discretion on the ability of their children.
2. Wear shoes or boots that have good traction. Tennis shoes highly not recommended. 3. Snakes. Snakes, including habus, have been seen in this area. Be vigilant.
3. IMPORTANT!!! Bring plenty of water that will help you complete the 5-6 hour excursion. Recommend at least 4 liters of water and nourishments to replenish your electrolytes.
4. Tuck in all loose straps to include shoe laces to prevent getting snagged and tripping.
5. Highly recommend hiking gloves of some kind. You may be required to climb using your hands in some areas.
6. Base your clothing on the time of year and comfort level. It will get windy and cold on the top of the mountain during the colder months. Consider bring a light jacket.
7. Recommend a good hat for shade or cover up with a moist towel.
8. Bug repellent. Bring per your discretion.
9. Let someone know where you are going, and recommend a climbing buddy.

Notes/Source of Information.
1. Elevation was obtained from a Nago City sign board.
2. It is not sure what date this incident with the bandits had taken place, or why they had left Shuri Castle to begin with. Dates and reasons where not given. The name Kochi Satonishi may be incorrect due the translation and variation of the Kanji.

Directions/Parking. Take Highway 58 North and turn on to Highway 449 goings towards Motobu Town. About another 10 minutes later look for large street signs in English directing you to Mt. Katsuu (the Katsuyama Community Center is along this route). Look for the Katsuyama Community Center on the left. This is where you want to park. It will be across a white sign directing you to Mt. Katsuu. See map above for landmarks. Parking location is at GPS N 37.247 E 127 56.184.

Other Hiking Trails on OkinawaKatsuu-dakeFurushi-dake, Motobu Fuji, Yonaha-dake.