Jouyama is the mountain above Fukuoka University of Education (Fukuoka Kyouikudaigaku) and the nearest train station is JR Kyouikudaimae (the stop after Akama on the line between Fukuoka and Kokura). The name Jouyama means "Castle Mountain." According to Wikipedia Japan, the first castle was constructed in the 6th century, and the site was abandoned in 1588.
Signboard at the trailhead
On the day we climbed, we parked at the tozanguchi (=trailhead) car park, which is just above the university. There's room for about 20 cars I guess. Many people come here to collect spring water, and the hike is fairly short, so if there are no parking spots available, you probably won't have long to wait before someone leaves. However, it's much more satisfying to start from the train station and feel that you've really climbed all the way! From the station you turn left on the main road, go past the bus center, and continue to just after a gas station. The small road on the right, which leads up past houses, is clearly marked as the Jouyama hiking route (click here for a picture). It only takes about 15 minutes from the station to the tozanguchi parking area.
The path up the mountain is very well constructed, with steps up the steeper sections. It takes around 30 minutes from the tozanguchi to the summit. Many of the trees are labeled, so you can learn a few tree names on the way.
The broad summit of Jouyama has a hut, monuments, etc.
Aya & Nigel on the path (leaning against a holy cedar)
This mountain has a very active preservation society and it seems that they maintain the paths and remove fallen trees, and they have even built a small hut on the summit. This hut contains a log book for visitors to sign and a chart showing the numbers of hikers per year and per month. From this we found out that recently around 4,000 people per month climb Jouyama!
The summit itself is quite wide and flat, and as well as the hut, you can see a couple of monuments, a few benches, a relief map, signposts, a small shrine, and a fenced enclosure containing rare plants. When we were there we counted about 20 other hikers, so I think it would be rare to find yourself alone on this mountain!
Aya outside the hut
Signpost on the summit
The best thing about Jouyama are the views - clear across Munakata and out to the sea. We were lucky to be there on a relatively sunny day, so we enjoyed looking for our house and trying to identify other landmarks in the area. It's probably worth bringing binoculars with you.
Jouyama is actually the first of four peaks in a range that runs from Fukuoka University of Education all the way to the sea. The four mountains are: Jouyama (369m), Kanayama (317m), Kodaijiyama (499m), and Yukawasan (471m). The complete hike across all of them is about 15km and involves a total climb of 1380m, so it's pretty tough but well worth the effort.
Aya signing the logbook in the hut on the summit of Jouyama
Even though Jouyama isn't so high, the view is spectacular