S. Korean group opens two hiking routes in northeastern Japan

JEJU, South Korea, Oct. 8 (Yonhap) — The Jeju Olle Foundation, which operates the Olle Trail on South Korea’s largest tourist island of Jeju, has launched two hiking paths in northeastern Japan affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, marking the establishment of its third overseas sister trail, the foundation said Monday.

Hundreds of walkers from South Korea, Japan and other countries took part in a ceremony in Karakuwa, Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture, on Sunday to mark the opening of the Miyagi Olle Trail along with the region’s residents.

The Miyagi prefectural government had sounded out the South Korean foundation about a project to develop hiking routes as part of efforts to address a decrease in the number of foreign visitors and revive the community following the quake that devastated the region.

The foundation and the local government have held talks to move forward with the project since April 2016, when officials of the two sides met in Jeju. In December last year, Jeju Olle reached a deal with the Miyagi prefectural government and the city governments of Kesennuma, Higashimatsushima and Osaki on the development of two initial routes.

On the Kesennuma-Karakuwa course of the Miyagi Olle Trail, travelers set out on a path along the Rias coast and the Sanriku Geopark in the prefecture. The trail’s Okumatsushima course allows walkers to travel through Matsushima, which is touted as one of the three most scenic views in Japan.

The opening of the Miyagi Olle Trail came after the foundation launched two previous sister trails outside the South Korean island — the Kyushu Olle Trail on the southwestern Japanese main island in 2012 and the Mongolian Olle Trail last year.

The foundation offers its feedback on the development of sister trails and designs for waymarkers and trail signs.

According to the foundation, the word “Olle” is also used for the trails as the foundation shares its operation methods and philosophy with operators of the overseas trails. “Olle” comes from the old Jeju dialect and means a very narrow alley or path from a public street to the gate of a house.

Suh Myoung-suk, chief of the Jeju Olle Foundation, said that “the Miyagi Olle Trail coincides with the spirits of healing and coexistence with Nature that all the Olle trails keep up, in a region that is on a road to recovery following an earthquake.”

The Jeju Olle Trail, the construction of which began in 2006, stretches about 422 kilometers along the coastline of the island off South Korea’s southern coast.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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