The Shiroyama Hiking Course
[Walking time: about 2 hours and 20 minutes (reverse course: 2 hours and 30 minutes) Suited for average hikers.] This is a course for tracing the historic relics, dating back to the days Yugawara was called Doi-go, while enjoying the view. You will feel Yugawara’s close ties with Yoritomo Minamoto as you go around Joganji Temple, Sanehira’s family temple, the Doi castle ruins (on top of Mt. Shiroyama), Shitodo Cave and other places. The grassy meadow of the picnic area is the best place to open your boxed lunch, and the panoramic view from the top of Shiroyama is superb. You can see not only the Sagami Bay but also the Izu Peninsula, and even Hutsushima and Oshima islands.
Mt. Shiroyama of Yugawara, one of Kanagawa’s new Hakkei (eight picturesque sites), is 562 meters above sea level, and on its top lies the castle ruins of Sanehira Jiro Doi, a powerful clan in Doi-go (now Yugawara-machi). It is known as a particularly scenic place in Yugawara.
The hill top commands a spectacular view of the Manazuru Peninsula, the Sagami Bay, the Boso Peninsula, the Izu Peninsula, Oshima and Hatsushima islands.
Take a bus for Moto-hakone via Daikanzan at Yugawara Station, and after a 35-minute ride, get off at Shitodo no Iwaya bus stop.
Turn right at the bus stop, and you will come to a large observatory where a resthouse used to stand, commanding a panoramic view of Mt. Kurakake, Jukkokutoge Pass, the Iwatoyama mountain range, and, just below, Yugawara Onsen.
Walk below the site of the resthouse, noting the information board indentifying “The place Kobo Daishi’s 90 figures were transferred to.”
You’ll soon come to Shiroyama tunnel, and when you have gone through it, you will see the round Makuyama and Mt. Nangoyama across the valley. This wide road is called Shirogane Rindo (forest road), and leads to the foot of Nangoyama.
Go down along the narrow paved road from the entrance to Shitodo Cave, where you’ll see a monument with a lot of Kobo Daishi’s figures, and zigzag down the steep slope, led by the stone image of Kobo Daishi.
At the bottom of the slope is a huge rock that marks the branch road which leads to Goro Shrine.
When you have gone up the stone steps around the rock, you’ll find a cave in the hillside behind a small waterfall right in front of you.
This is “Shitodo no Iwaya,” where Yoritomo and his followers are said to have hidden about 800 years ago in 1180, after they lost the Battle of Ishibashiyama.
The cave is 5 meters in height, about 13 meters in width and 11 meters in depth, and 61 stone images and stone pagodas rest in it.
Go back along the road you took just now to the site of the resthouse, and walk along the road above it, a gentle uphill road whose center is paved with stone. In about 10 minutes you’ll come to a large open space covered with grass. At this point the road abruptly becomes narrow and goes into a cypress grove.
When you’ve walked through the cypress wood and come to a cobbled downhill path, your field of vision will suddenly open widely, and you can view the streets of Yugawara on your right, and then Jukkokutoge Pass and the ridge of Iwatoyama. You can also enjoy viewing many azaleas along the road.
As you continue down the ridge enjoying a fine view, you will see the monument of “Doi Castle Ruins” right there.
The peninsula that stretches out to the left is Manazuru.
If you go up to the left, from where a simple information board and an arrow are put up, you’ll come to the top of Shiroyama. You’ll find a stone monument with a large inscription of “Doi Castle Ruins” (photo), a strangely shaped rock with legends of an inkstone and others, and a resthouse. As I wrote before, the view from here is splendid.
After taking a rest, how about descending in the direction of the Manazuru Peninsula? About 5 minutes’ walk will take you to the “Picnic Ground,” a large lawn park. The shrubs in this park cut off most of the view, but if you have come in a large group, it is a good place for opening your boxed lunches and playing games.
After walking for about 30 minutes from the hill top, cross the paved forest road. Again you’ll come to a forest road, so go down the winding slope, and turn left in the middle of the road to take a shortcut. When you’ve come to the forest road again, you will keep on going downhill along an orange grove.
If you just keep going down and pass under the Shirohori overpass of the Tokaido Line, then turn right and go along the bustling street, you will come to Yugawara Station, but why don’t you stop by Joganji Temple before that?
“Sotoshu Mannenzan Joganji” was the family temple of the powerful Doi clan headed by Sanehira, who ruled over Doi-go (now Yugawara-machi). In its precincts, the clan’s grave and more than 50 stone pagodas (designated as the Prefecture’s Cultural Property) are lined up.
In addition, you can see Shichikido, the hall in which the wooden figures of seven samurais, Yoritomo and others, on horseback, who played an active part in the revival of the Minamoto family, are placed. “The great juniper tree (a national natural monument),” estimated to be 800 years old and said to have been planted by Sanehira himself, is also there, among others.
About 5 minutes’ downhill walk from here will take you to Yugawara Station.
By the way, the “seven samurais on horseback” refers to Sanehira Jiro Doi, Morinaga Tokuro Adachi, Munetoo Saburo Tsuchiya, Yoshizane Shiro Okazaki, Nobutsuna Kaja Tashiro and Tadauji Jiro Shinkai.