We arrived in Kirishima too early to check-in to our hotel so we used the time to go for a short walk from the Ebino car park up Mt. Shiratori and around the three ponds of Byakushi, Rokannon-Miike and Fudo.
We asked the staff at the hotel whether they had a walking map. This was readily produced, but it turned out to be a map of the wooded hotel gardens. Watched by the bellboy, we went for the 5 minute ‘walk’ up a series of staircases and past some miniature shrines in the forest behind the hotel before driving to the Ebino car park for the real thing.
Starting from the car park, we followed a paved path into the forest, which thankfully climbed gently into the shade. It was very humid. We stumbled on a small herd of deer, which inspected us more with curiosity than fear and didn’t keep their distance.
At a fork in the path, we followed the path signposted for Mt Shiratori. The path here was no longer paved and wound its way out of the tangle of tree roots and undergrowth to a viewpoint looking out over the serene Byakushi Pond and the small summit of Mt. Shiratori.
Another 10 minutes later and we were on the summit where we had a good view of Mr. Karakunidake, which we climbed the following day (post available to read here).
We backtracked to the fork in the path and turned left this time to walk down to the edge of Byakushi Pond, although it turned out that we could have carried on walking along the summit and joined the path back on the other side of the pond.
Continuing past the pond, we soon found the shore line of the somewhat larger and deeper Rokannon-Miike Pond.
After this, the path started to climb once more until we reached the third pond, Fudo. Here the path emerged by a car park (with free parking) and a view point over the pond. A shrine lay at the trailhead.
With the Ebino car park and visitor center clearly visible from the view point, we followed a series of footpaths downhill bypassing the serpentine road bends and the entrance to the Mt. Karakunidake trail.