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Spectacular scenery awaits visitors on new 'Olle' hiking course in N. Japan's Miyagi

People walk along the "Kesennuma Karakuwa course" after leaving the Karakuwa Peninsula Visitor Center in the city of Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, on Oct. 7, 2018. (Mainichi/Atsushi Arai)

KESENNUMA, Miyagi -- A new hiking course was launched on Oct. 7 on the Karakuwa Peninsula here in a bid to encourage more tourists from around the country and abroad to travel to the area to enjoy the rich nature and culture of northern Japan.

After participants start from the Karakuwa Peninsula Visitor Center, a facility that displays images of the peninsula's nature, the lives of its residents and damage from tsunami, they walk for about 10 kilometers along the coastline and paths through forests.

In the middle of the course lie tourist attractions, such as stones that washed up due to tsunami, a 16-meter-high stone pillar rising from the ocean and an ancient road near where a Christian missionary apparently lived.

Such types of "Olle" hiking courses, which originated in South Korea's Jeju Island, come from the dialect on Jeju Island and mean narrow paths from streets to houses. The attraction of these Olle trails is their rich nature and coastal and mountain scenery that stimulate the senses. Anyone can walk freely on the courses while following the signs, such as arrow-shaped signs or red and blue-colored ribbons. The Miyagi Prefectural Government made efforts to build promenades and other paths in the cities of Kesennuma in northern Miyagi and Higashimatsushima to the south to establish the "Miyagi Olle Trail," which is preceded by other Olle courses in the Kyushu region in southern Japan and in Mongolia, as well as in their origin in South Korea.

On Oct. 7, a ceremony was held at the visitor center to mark the opening of the new course. About 300 people from South Korea, Kyushu and Miyagi Prefecture attended the event. Kesennuma Mayor Shigeru Sugawara said, "I hope participates can enjoy the magnificent scenery and visit here many times." The attendees then began walking along the course at their own pace.

In addition, another trail also about 10 kilometers long was launched in Higashimatsushima on Oct. 8.

(Japanese original by Atsushi Arai, Kesenmuma Local Bureau)

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