Life in Japan — April 14, 2018

April 14, 2018

I’ve been eating way too much ramen and tempura lately. Even though I walk around for 3-4 hours a day, it was time to do some more strenuous exercise. The weather was nice today, so we decided to go to Mt. Takao for an afternoon hike.

Camera Configuration: Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 WR lens.

Catching the train from Shinjuku Station to Takaosanguchi Station.

Travel Tip: To get to Mt. Takao, take the Keio Line from Shinjuku Station to Takaosanguchi Station. Make sure to catch the express train.

Mt. Takao has a number of hiking trails. Since Ayaka already hiked Trail #1 last time and we were sort of low on time, we chose Trail #4. I’m really curious about the Takao-Jimba Trail and how it compares to the Red Rock Canyon hikes I did out in Las Vegas. Turtlehead Peak was killer!

A map of the various hiking trails at Mt. Takao.

There were a bunch of restaurants at the base of the mountain, so we had a quick lunch before starting the hike. In hindsight, I don’t know why I thought it would be a good idea to eat lunch right before going on a hike. Don’t do it.

Restaurants at the base of Mt. Takao.

Two kids at the base of Mt. Takao.

Mt. Takao reportedly attracts over 2.6 million people annually. That’s approximately 7,120 people per day. I don’t have the best visualization skills when it comes to numbers, but this statistic is impressive. Despite it being a Saturday afternoon, we must’ve caught Mt. Takao on a fairly low traffic day because it didn’t feel hectic or crowded at all during the hike.

Two women seated on a bench on one of Mt. Takao's trails.

Two women at an observation point at Mt. Takao.

Below is a statue of Jizo (地蔵), a bodhisattva or enlightened being in East Asian Buddhism. Jizo is often depicted as a buddhist monk, and his name roughly translates to “earth treasury”. In Japan, Jizo statues are thought to offer protection for travelers and children, which explains their abundance along Mt. Takao’s trails. Locals routinely dress Jizo with red knit caps and bibs. The color red represents safety and protection, and the process of dressing gives people a chance to interact with Jizo and receive good luck.

A Jizo statue at Mt. Takao.

Hiking… hiking… hiking…

Hiking at Mt. Takao.

Ayaka taking a photo of a flower patch at Mt. Takao.

A man and his child hiking at Mt. Takao.

As we approached this observation point, I spotted a snack stand selling Dippin’ Dots. I used to have this overpriced stuff all the time back in the USA. The question is why a snack stand at Mt. Takao is selling Dippin’ Dots.

An observation point at Mt. Takao.

Here’s a shot from the observation point.

The view from an observation point at Mt. Takao.

At some point, we realized we were hiking on Trail #1 the whole time. Oops.

Ayaka pointing at a trail map at Mt. Takao.

Hiking… hiking… hiking… We eventually found our way to Trail #4 and arrived at the suspension bridge.

A suspension bridge at Mt. Takao.

A suspension bridge at Mt. Takao.

A suspension bridge at Mt. Takao.

Three rolls of toilet in the middle of the forest. How mysterious…

Three rolls of toilet paper on a fallen tree log at Mt. Takao.

A couple seated on a bench in the middle of the woods at Mt. Takao.

A short while later, we reached the top of Mt. Takao. This dude needs to get off his phone for a few minutes and turn around.

A man on his phone at the peak of Mt. Takao.

The view from the top of Mt. Takao.

I really like Mt. Takao because it’s a really casual hike — one that you can decide to do the day of without any extensive preparation. That’s why it was so interesting to see so many hikers completely decked out in hiking apparel and huge backpacks, while Ayaka and I showed up in jeans and sweatshirts with a small camera bag. I concluded that Japanese people really love hiking gear, and it’s simply part of the hiking experience. I just wonder what could possibly be in those backpacks for a 2-3 hour easy hike.

Hikers with too much hiking gear at Mt. Takao.

We passed a few shrines on the way down…

A shrine at Mt. Takao.

A shrine at Mt. Takao.

A shrine at Mt. Takao.

Ayaka observing sakura trees at Mt. Takao.

Sakura trees at Mt. Takao.

If you’re looking for a quick escape from Tokyo’s craziness, a quick hike at Mt. Takao might just do the trick. It certainly did for me. Man, my legs are tired…

Good night from Tokyo!


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