National

Closed typhoon-hit trails in Japan put damper on rush to view autumn leaves

by Ryusei Takahashi

Staff Writer

November typically sees a surge in hikers seeking to enjoy autumn leaves, but several trails in Kamakura, Hakone and other destinations across Kanagawa Prefecture — and elsewhere in the Kanto region — remain closed indefinitely after two powerful typhoons tore through the country in September and October.

Typhoon Hagibis, the 19th named storm of the season, made landfall on the Izu Peninsula on Oct. 12, bringing with it unprecedented rain, flooding and winds before making its way north to Fukushima. It claimed at least 90 lives and flooded tens of thousands of buildings. Typhoon Faxai followed a similar path the previous month. Both storms left behind devastation from which several parts of the country are still struggling to recover.

Hiking trails and popular outdoor destinations remain closed — indefinitely, in some cases — due to flooding, fallen trees and landslides.

Takashi Tsuyuki, director of the Hakone branch office of Kanagawa Prefecture’s Center for Environmental Preservation, blamed Typhoon Hagibis for the closure of most of the town’s hiking trails.

He added that, due to complications with the town’s annual budget and other priorities in the wake of the typhoons, the trails likely won’t reopen until next year.

In the Kanagawa Prefecture town, record-breaking rains caused massive damage, and several famous hot springs also remain closed.

Several other popular destinations in the Kanto region remain closed to the public.

A major route on Mount Takao, in the western Tokyo city of Hachioji, along with several trails around its base, are also temporarily closed. A number of trails in Okutama, also in western Tokyo, remain closed as well.

In the Kanagawa city of Kamakura, where numerous landslides and blackouts occurred during the typhoon, three hiking trails — Gionyama, Kuzuharaoka Shrine and Ten-en — are temporarily closed to the public. The courses collectively attract up to 240,000 visitors every year. Juniso Orchard is also closed until further notice.

In Nagano Prefecture, Mount Neko, Mount Azumaya and the Yonako Falls remain inaccessible due to collapsed access roads and landslides.

An annual festival celebrating autumn leaves in the town of Ranzan, Saitama Prefecture, set to be held from Friday until early December, was canceled due to debris left behind by heavy flooding.

Trails on Mount Sekiro and Mount Arashi, two mountains near Lake Sagami in Kanagawa Prefecture, remain partially closed due to landslides.

Local municipalities are urging visitors to double check closure information and heed safety warnings. In particular, they’re having trouble stopping people from entering closed trails, with hikers either failing to understand or choosing to ignore the signs.

“We can’t take responsibility for individuals who ignore the warnings. We urge them to heed our warnings and be safe. To those who can’t read Japanese, we ask that you check online whether your destination is open and safe before making your trip,” Tsuyuki said. “The risks of falling trees and more landslides are real and we ask that people be patient as we try to recover.”