Since climbing Mount Fuji five years ago I have had the idea in mind to climb the 3776m mountain from the very bottom rather than the fifth station which is located about half way up. However, with a limited climbing season (only July & August), very few back-to-back days off and overseas trips during my long August holidays I am still yet to get round to that but as ever I’m hopeful about next year being the one.
In the meantime I thought I’d take the much shorter trip out to Mount Takao which is an hour away from Shinjuku and standing tall at a whopping 599m!! The idea was to climb it rather than taking the chairlift or cable car which about 98% of people do. Furthermore, it was the “koyo” (Autumn foliage) season so I thought it would be nice to climb it whilst seeing the beautiful red, brown and yellow leaves.
My girlfriend and I took the #6 route which begins down the road to the left of the Cable Car station and it wasn’t long until we were at Biwa Falls which I’m very interested in as it’s basically a place for self discipline. One uses all their spiritual inner strength to remain under the cascading water for as long as possible in a challenge which shows strength of a different nature compared to the high-adrenaline ones I usually prefer. I first saw Jack Osbourne do such a thing on his ‘Adrenaline Junkie’ show a few years ago and Anthony Bourdain also experienced it on his ‘No Reservations’ show. Maybe next Summer for me!
There was a steady flow of hikers taking this route akin to a kind of conveyor-belt tourism. Winding up a valley, this trail was an interesting one which took us past small streams and also included stepping stones at one stage too.
I’ve lost count of how many times I have been up Mount Takao but I have to confess that a fair few of those times have been just to experience the “Beer Mount” which is the absolutely fantastic all-you-can-eat-and-drink beer garden observation deck. Sadly that is only during the Summer months so we couldn’t enjoy that and had to settle for a solitary stick of ‘dango’ which was fine but not worth the wait.
Tengu is a character I was interested in seeing more of since I heard about him whilst doing my research for last months ‘Cycling Tokyo’s Most Haunted Sights…In One Day’ challenge. These Tengu creatures are a common part of Japanese folklore and naturally they are rumoured to still hang out on the peaks of Mount Takao though we never spotted these ferocious masters of martial arts! Surprising that! According to the travel CNN site “the humble and pure of heart have nothing to fear from the Tengu, but woe betide the pompous and arrogant.”
We didn’t spend much time at the top as it was only back in September that we last came and were about the only ones on the mountain top! Not so this time as the amount of people was a ridiculous number for any place let alone a mountain! It really was more packed more than Shibuya Crossing. I included this in my list about whats great about living and working in Tokyo back in March but having experienced the chaos of this “koyo” viewing season I may take it off that list!
The descend wasn’t really enjoyable as it was basically just a quick, steep, winding road rather than an actual hiking trail and it was packed too as many decided that it was a better option than joining the huge lines for the cable car and chair lifts. Overall, the #6 trail up is highly recommended for a truer taste of nature but the koyo was actually at its best at the summit and down at the bottom and as nice as it was it wasn’t quite as nice as what I saw last year in Chichibu.