Maedake–Winter Hiking 前岳の冬季登山

This past Saturday was a great day! A colleague and I hiked up a local mountain, Maedake. There was about a foot or two of snow on the ground making for beautiful winter scenes along the creek at the beginning of the trail, on the tree-canopied trail, and finally at the top which overlooks Akita. Last year I had done the hike solo, on a whim, so I felt pretty confident as a guide this time.

According to the guide book I have (秋田の山),1 there’s a trail called Nite no mata 二手の又 that starts from the top of the Taiheizan ski slope. However, I use a different trail called Kisoishi 木曽石. The trailhead for this course is right off rt. 232, as you can see here:

I’ve had a terrible time finding trail maps in Japan. To put it bluntly, the ones I’ve found have been pretty crappy. But, here’s a map that I found in the book I mentioned above:

from 「秋田県の山」

from 「秋田県の山」

The road I take to the trailhead (Rt. 232) is just off what’s shown in the map, to the left. The Circled P in the bottom left corner is obviously parking as well as the Kisoishi Trailhead, which I’ve marked in red. The waterfall, Kanayama Falls, is not worth the visit.

The Trail

type: out & back

length: approx. 6 km (3.72 miles) one way

starting elevation: approx. 84m (275 ft)

peak elevation: 774 m (2,539 ft)

time: about 2 hrs up; 45 mins. down

In the map above, the Kisoishi trail starts in the bottom left corner. On this map it’s the black dashed line that goes through the 291.4 m elevation marker and joins the red dashed “Nite no mata” trail. In the snow, this junction is barely, barely visible.

Note: This is a really popular trail! Both times that I’ve done it (in the dead of winter!) I’ve passed many hikers of all ages. Since it’s so well traveled the trail is pretty easy to follow. Also, the trail doesn’t end at Maedake. Hikers can go through to Nakadake and even further on to Okudake. There is a cabin on Okudake open year round that hikers can sleep in.

Photo Tour of the Trail

As you can see in the Google Map above, regardless of which way you do to the trailhead you eventually end up on Rt. 232. The road is one-lane in each direction and winds through rice fields and small ‘villages’. You’ll see a large blue sign traffic-sign above the road pointing you towards Kanayama Falls (Kanayama-daki 金山滝), which leads you to this narrow road pictured here:

This road is off of Rt.232. Depending on the conditions you can drive down it and park at the end.

Wooded road leading to trailhead.

You can just park out on 232, or if you’re able to there is some parking at the end. The entrance to trailhead is clearly marked at the end of this road and looks like this:

Maedake Kisoishi Trailhead

The post on the left in the photo says Taiheizan Trailhead, which it is–“Taiheizan” is the cluster of little mountain peaks. This trail will take you through Maedake to Okudake, which is the highest peak of the cluster.

Shinto and Buddhist statues line the Kisoishi trail



1「秋田県の山」ISBN 978-4-635-02354-2


2015 in review

These stats were generated by WordPress. I have nothing other to add!

I understand how important it is to have an ‘online presence’ but blogging is really hard for me to get into. Maybe I’ll try to give my posts a better focus in 2016…

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 540 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 9 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Akita – the Land of Poetry vol.7 『詩の国秋田第7号』(3)

Here’s an updated blog post about the haiku contest I entered back in the summer. Two of my students (Delia and Takuno) are listed as having received “JAL Foundation Award Honorable Mention.” You can read their poems down towards the bottom of the post.

I was so happy to hear this! Theirs were chosen out of 495 entries from 50 countries!

Akita International Haiku Network

“Akita – the Land of Poetry “ vol.7  『詩の国秋田 第7号』(3

The yearly pamphlet Akita – the Land of Poetry Vol.7 ,  『詩の国秋田第7号』, features prize-winning haiku, honorably-mentioned haiku, and fine works in the 4th Japan-Russia Haiku Contest in 2015 .

Here are haiku special on haiku written in English.

English Section(495句)

495 haiku were sent for the English haiku section from 50 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Columbia, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece,  Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nepal, Netherlands, Norway, Palestine, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Sudan, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Tunisia, UK, USA, and Vietnam .

The theme: “lake”, but any theme is OK 

Judges: David McMurray, Satoru Kanematsu, Hidenori Hiruta  

英語語部門  (English Section)

Akita International University President’s Award

Ben Grafström(USA)

Full moon in summer—

View original post 445 more words

Risotto When All You Have Is Rice

Between Christmas and New Year’s I was lucky enough to spend some time with some old friends up in Hokkaido. One of them, Simon, is an incredible cook and always inspires me to at least try to cook/prepare something other than ham and cheese sandwiches all the time. Today, not only did I successfully poach an egg (perfectly!) for the first time, but I also tried to make an interesting dinner: Risotto.

I wasn’t planning on posting, so I wasn’t worried about the presentation too much!

Simon’s got a great set-up in his kitchen, but all I have are a few basics. Seriously. I made this “risotto” meal using a fry pan and a rice cooker. The final picture is of the finished product is a little boring, but the taste and the flavor were awesome!

Here’s what I used:

  • Butter!
  • 2 cups (as in, 2 of the cups that come with your rice cooker) of RICE! (I couldn’t find actual risotto at the local supermarkets or the foreign food shops, so I just used regular Japanese white rice)
  • 4 cups of chicken broth (I’ve never made my own broth and the store doesn’t sell it so I used chicken consomme. Chicken bouillon cube would’ve worked, too)
  • 2 tablespoons (about 14 ml) of olive oil–just eyeball it!
  • 16 ounces (about 400ml) of mushrooms (I couldn’t find portobello, so I just used some regular mushrooms)
  • 1 shallot (diced)
  • 1 garlic clove (diced)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper (freshly ground, always)
  • 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese (romano is probably good, too!)

What I did:

  1. prepped first. Got everything out, and measured–ready to go

    Ingredients prepped and ready to go

  2. made my substitute chicken broth by heating 4 cups of water in the frying pan and adding the chicken consomme mix. Poured it in a bowl and set it aside.

    chicken consomme substituting for chicken broth

  3. melted two tablespoons of butter in the frying pan.
  4. put the two cups of rice in the rice cooked and poured in the melted butter. I used a WOODEN spoon to stir the butter and rice together (a metal utensil will damage your rice cooker bowl!)

    butter stirred in nice and evenly

  5. put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the fry pan. When it warmed up I added the mushrooms and the shallot, cooked them until they were soft. Cook with the cover on the pan to keep them from drying out & maybe burning. Stir occasionally. Then I set this aside, back on my “prep plate.”
  6. Added in the garlic, white wine, “stock” (a.k.a. consomme), salt, and pepper in with the rice.
  7. Closed the rice cooker and hit the regular “cook” option (not “speed cook” or any other option).
  8. After 10 minutes I added in the mushrooms/shallots and cheese. Stir well!

    stir well and make sure that your cheese isn’t clumpy

  9. After about 20 minutes, stir in the peas and one more tablespoon of butter. Again, stir well!
  10. Let the cooking cycle finish and it’s ready to eat!

It was soooo good! My apartment smelled great. The wine, black pepper, and butter were well balanced and tasted really nice.

You can see that the peas and mushrooms rise to the top, but the wine, pepper, salt, and butter stay nice and evenly distributed for a balanced taste!


  • It’s 2 cups of rice, so it serves two, maybe three people depending on appetite and if you’re serving anything else with it.
  • 4 cups of chicken comme was too much. The finished product tasted great but was a little too wet. Next time I’m going to try only 3.5 cups.