Hiking Mt. Takao-san
05.08.2012 - 05.08.2012 92 °F
We had another fantastic day, and it was a great way to cap off our Tokyo experience. I realize the last few posts were a bit long (I think even Kevin got bored when he read it this morning!), so I'll try to make this one shorter. When we woke up today, the forecast was still for a 40% chance of rain, but the skies looked blue and nearly cloudless, so we decided to go forward with our plans to hike Mt. Takao-san. We hit the gym for a run, had breakfast, and headed out on the 64-minute train ride to the base of Mt. Takao-san (even navigating the train without issues!). We read somewhere that Mt. Takao-san is the most climbed mountain in the world, but we're not entirely sure this is true (Wikipedia notes more than 2.5 million annual visitors). It is 599m (1,965 feet) tall from base to peak, and there are several different paths to the top. I had scouted out the recommended routes for best views, so we planned to take #6 up and #1 down.
Trail #6 was 3.3km (plus the 0.5km at the start), and had gorgeous scenery right from the start. It was never so steep that we were climbing with our hands, or so hard that we were too out of breath, but it was definitely not a cake walk - we had to work hard to get up there! It was about 90 degrees and incredibly humid, and we were soaked within the first few minutes (and it only got worse!). It wasn't super crowded, but every time you would pass someone they would be sure to greet you with "Konnichiwa" (good afternoon).
After 70 minutes or so, we reached the top! We stopped a few times for sightseeing, but otherwise we were pretty much going as quickly as we could. Just look at some of the gorgeous views!
After spending a while looking around and enjoying the views (and some "non-fried edamame snack"), we headed back down on Trail #1, which was 3.8km (plus the 0.5 starting portion). This trail was paved the entire way, which made footing a non-issue, but man was it STEEP! We couldn't believe we had covered so much distance on the way up, because it hurt almost worse going down! We got to see a series of beautiful temples; the main one was called Yakuoin Temple and is thought to have been built in 744 to honor the Medicine Buddha. The temples hold over 2,500 important documents from the Japanese Middle Ages on the relations between the temple and the community.
We saw some more incredible views on the way down, and laughed at the signs, which we imagine say "Beware! Wild monkeys!" and kind of reminded us of the Evil Monkey from Family Guy.
We reached the bottom around 2:30 and were fast in search of lunch. Kev snagged a bean curd bun along the way, and then we settled into a restaurant where we got some delicious soba noodles (plain for Kev, in a broth with veggies for me). We did our very best to eat the noodles with chopsticks (slurping up the noodles is not considered rude, and you don't cut or twirl them at all), and I think we did OK!
We rode the train back to Shinjuku, and were more than a bit excited for a shower after we got back around 4:30. We spent the afternoon packing, napping, and sending a few emails, and then headed back out to our favorite area for exploring and dinner. We ended up going to two conveyor belt sushi restaurants (which our friend, Nori, tells us are called kaiten) because the first one didn't really have much that appealed to us. Unfortunately, I forgot to snap any photos of dinner, but we do have one from before (in our hotel lobby) and one of the green tea ice cream that I had afterwards while watching the women's Olympic Marathon (couldn't miss it, even from Japan!)
Tomorrow, we head to Beijing, and two logistical things are worth noting: 1) If we don't post for a few days, don't worry! We know that Facebook is blocked by the government in China, and we have no idea if our random blog site will be blocked as well, so if we can't access it we will be sure to do a mega-post once we get to Thailand. 2) If you have been getting to our blog via Facebook, we won't be able to post the links for the next few days (assuming we can blog at all). Here's an easy solution - on the right side of the screen is a "Subscribe" button, which will email you every time we post.
While we're sad to leave Tokyo and loved every second of it, we're excited for the rest of our journey! Thanks for reading!
-Megan and Kevin