I came to Oze. This was my first major outing since moving to the Kanto region for work.
While it is a place where one can enjoy nature to the fullest, it is also relatively easy to get to from central Tokyo, with overnight buses available. If you are coming from western Japan like me before, it may not be a priority unless you have a strong desire to go there.
In late September, I planned to visit on Sunday and Monday instead of Saturday and Sunday to avoid the peak of the crowds.
I took the Oze-gou night bus of Kan-Etsu Kotsu from Shinjuku on Saturday night to Tokura. I arrived at around 4:30 am, when it was still dark. I bought a shuttle bus ticket at the Tokura bus stop and waited for another bus bound for Hatomachi-touge. The 5:00 a.m. shuttle buses started arriving one after another and waiting for the next one.
It is surely not common to suddenly start climbing up to Ayamedaira in Oze for the first time. Although I thought it was a little twisted, I carefully planned out the light conditions and efficient route setting.
Note that this article will present Oze as seen through my eyes with photos. This is not a mountaineering or trekking blog, so I will only touch on gear and routes as appropriate when I feel like it.
I chose the D750 with 16-35mm, 50mm macro, 85mm, and 70-300mm (DX) as my lens configuration after much consideration, because I needed to be selective about what to pack for this trip, including mountain trekking. I chose two single focal lengths instead of the 24-70mm because I wanted to use one of them as a macro and because I personally like to shoot nature with the 85mm. I was not sure about the telephoto zoom, but it was just in case for birds and animals. Although it is an old lens, taking out the 50mm macro was a great decision in the end.
The Nagasawa-shindo trail changed from the trail to Ayamedaira and was relatively steep, with many uneven terrain. The wet rocks were slippery, so I continued to be on my toes. I arrived at Ozegahara at a little past 11:00 a.m., almost as scheduled, although taking pictures here and there.