Ever wanted a falcon’s view of Mt Fuji and the surrounding ranges? Takanosu-yama (鷹ノ巣山) – translated as Falcon’s Nest Mountain – offers just a commanding view, good enough for a falcon. On an unseasonably cold, but clear and crisp autumn day, the contrast between snow, bright coloured foliage, clear blue skies and the vista beyond was a perfect way to spend a public holiday.
The track to Takanosu-yama starts in the town of Nippara, in western Tokyo Prefecture. (I’d been to Nippara once before to climb up another local mountain, Sobatsubu-san.) Catch a bus from Okutama Station up the hill past the limestone quarry, and from Higashi-Nippara bus stop, walk a few hundred metres further up the road towards the limestone caves tourist attraction. When walking up the main street, Iwamura Rock looms ahead – a massive limestone outcrop that overlooks the town.
The track first dives down past some locals’ vegetable gardens to enter the forest, cross the Nippara River and steeply ascend the other side. It winds its way through a beautiful green rocky gully to the side of Iwamura Rock, then sharply rises up the flank of the hillside. Autumn leaves litter the ground, the curses start as the track gets steeper, and the first signs of a recent coldsnap – snow on the ground – become apparent.
The top of Iwamura Rock is a side track, and a mountain-goat scramble to the top. There is something of a view back down to Nippara, but the brush on top of the rock makes getting a good view difficult. However, looking the other way in the direction of the ridge about to be climbed, the moutainside is alive with bright autumn colours.
The ridge up Takanosu-yama is a long slog, but made far more interesting with the snow getting thicker underfoot and the autumn leaves in the canopy above. A forest of buna(oaks) is near the top. About 2.5 hours after leaving Nippara, the summit (1,736 metres) suddenly arrives, and the view to the south is breathtaking. Everyone arriving on the summit – as there are many hikers out on such a splendid autumn public holiday – announces that the view is “sugoii!”. And sugoiiiii! it was – the air was as crisp and clear as I’ve ever felt it, and the view to Fuji-san was superb. The sckyscrapers of Shinjuku were clear out to the west. It felt like the falcons would feel right at home up here.
The descent was via a long ridge leading straight back to Okutama township, taking about 3 hours. My companion in the distance for much of the way was Fuji-san, hovering out on my right hand side. The snow gradually thinned as I descended, but first passing over Shiroyama (1,523 metres) and Mutsuishi-san (1,478 metres).
Once down the mountain below the band of autumn colours, the path entered a cedar forest, and then continued with tall timber forest nearer the floor of the valley. A view over the Okutama cement works was a reminder that the onsen was getting closer, and the track soon enough emerged into the back streets of Okutama township. The autumn colours hadn’t reached down this far yet, but I’d been from the snowy tops where the leaves had already fallen, to the valley floor still waiting for autumn to arrive – a descent of around 1,200 metres.