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A morning mission to Takao-san

Takao-san is a popular mountain to the west of Tokyo with a number of hiking tracks and Yakuoin temple, and I’d never been out there.  This is surprising given that it’s only an hour from Tokyo and easy to get to, quick to climb, and (supposedly) has views across to Fuji-san.  I think what had deterred me from visiting previously was rumours of large crowds and queues of people lining up to get to the summit.

Takao-san

To avoid all that, I started out early on my Silver Week long weekend, by catching the Keio Line to Takao-san with the intention of beating the rush.  Anyway, I had plans to go to the sumo in the afternoon, and needed to be back in Shibuya before long to meet up with friends.  So it was onto the 6:51am train from Shibuya, which is perhaps not everyone’s idea of the best way to start a long weekend.  I arrived at the bottom of the mountain right on 8am, and started walking up a track called the Inariyama track.

The Inariyama track follows a ridge all the way up to the summit.  My track notes suggested it would take well over an hour, but I was on a quick mission.  I began overtaking people, but fell in step with an old guy who was also apparently on the same quick-pace mission.  We struck up a conversation, and he turned out to be a 69 year old who was fit as a fiddle and as fast as the wind.  He liked hiking, and had done all sorts of interesting walks around Japan, even some off-track navigating across mountain ranges in Tohoku or the North Alps.  I enjoyed talking to him and hearing his stories, although there wasn’t much time to hear them, as we were on top in only 35 minutes.

My new friend (I never learned his name) and I then headed down past Yakuoin.  This is a particularly ornate series of temple buildings, which reminded me of Toshogu at Nikko.  My friend told me that they are the same sect.

The view from the top was a bit murky, but this is where the views of Fuji-san would normally be.  I could pick out the mountains of the Tanzawa region, which are in the background of this photograph.

View from Takao-san

Yakuoin’s temple buildings were built on several levels, up the side of the mountain.  They were all featured intrciate wood carvings.

Takao-san

Coming back down the mountain, we passed through this gate at the entrance to the Yakuoin temple precinct.  Of course, we were going the wrong way.  The crowds heading up the mountain were beginning to build, so it was a good move to accomplish my mountain climbing escapade (although it’s only 500 metres high) by mid-morning.

Takao-san

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