Kyushu Olle: An Autumn Hike on the Okubungo Course
Walking from Geopark to Castle Town
Little did I know, when I first learned to play the classic Japanese song “Kojo no Tsuki” (Moon Over Ruined Castle) on the bamboo flute, that it would be the theme song to a 12-kilometer walk through the cultural and geological history of Okubungo. Not only because the course itinerary involves castle ruins, bamboo forests, musical interludes, and potential moon-viewing, but because it also evokes a profound nostalgia for volcanic eruptions, giant buddhas, and Kyushu’s autumn leaves.
The Okubungo course is one of the first and most popular and historically significant of Kyushu Olle’s walking trails, modeled after the Jeju Olle trekking courses of the neighboring Korean island. The concept is to engage the senses by encouraging people to interact with the physical environment and (re)discover a specific area of Kyushu on foot.
Okubungo is also a model course: you can walk it at a leisurely pace in about half a day (four to five hours), it has little variation in altitude (less than 100 meters), it begins and ends at a train station (Asaji to Bungo-Taketa), and most enticingly, it concludes with a hot bath at the local onsen (Hanamizuki).