When you visit Omishima Island, Oyamazumi Shrine is sure to be on the itinerary. The shrine is spectacular enough, but your attention is sure to be caught by the rock mountain peaks behind it. The peak with the radio masts on it is Mt. Washigato, and the peak nearest the sea is Mt. Anjin. Between them is another peak with a beautiful rocky outcrop, which doesn’t have any particular name. In 2005, a forest fire burnt a lot of the tree cover. Today the mountain is cloaked in young trees and the views are spectacular.
The walk starts behind Oyamazumi Shrine. You’ll see a couple of statues of a young girl in armour. This is Tsuruhime, a local heroine. A slight detour takes you to the Ikiki no Gomon, an enormous three-thousand-year-old camphor tree. A path goes right under its roots. Once you’ve gazed on this remarkable sight, you double back and head up to the Anjinzan Wakuwaku Park.
There are several routes up these various peaks. If you want a relatively easy climb up to Mt. Anjin and Mt. Washigato, then you should take the left option when you come to the fork and go up the steps. This path goes almost straight up in very short doglegs. If you want a take different routes up and down, take the right fork along the so-called ‘promenade path’.
The promenade is well shaded with trees. It meanders pleasantly around the base of the mountain, with gentle ups and downs. Steps have been provided for surer footing. This path ends at the Irihi Falls. Here there’s a little temple and a couple of thin streams of water spout off a little cliff into a pool. It’s a pleasant and cool stop on the way.
Hereafter, things get serious. The path goes nearly straight up the mountain, which is steep. There’s no real shade until the top, and much of the path is of crumbly rock. From May to November, unless you’re well used to Mediterranean sunshine and heat, combined with Japanese humidity, you’ll find this enervating to say the least. There are many signs of the forest fire, with a lot of charred stumps.
The top of Mt. Washigato has a few small trees offering blessed shade. The view from the top is exquisite. In all directions there are islands and sea, with white bridges and golden beaches. Birds sing and insects buzz. Lizards and skinks dart hither and thither. Depending on the time of year, you’ll see swallows and kites in the sky around the mountaintop.
You might expect to get a view of Oyamazumi Shrine from Mt. Anjin, but the shrine is so densely covered in trees, not much can be seen. One of the most visible landmarks is Utena Beach with its beautiful little island.
The signs along the route are unhelpful. One says, “Nature research reactor”. “Reactor” is a mistranslation of “path”. Another says, “Climbing in the chain”. There is a route with chains hanging down the boulders, which we don’t recommend.
You can make it to the top of Mt. Washigato and back in an afternoon. The shorter walk up to Mt. Anjin takes less time and still offers a nice hike rewarded with a fantastic view.
Name in Japanese: 鷲ヶ頭山
Address: Washigatozan, Omishimacho Miyaura, Imabari, Ehime 794-1304