With my new gear in tow, I got out of Tokyo for the first time this trip, and headed out early on Sunday morning on the Odakyu Line to a town called Shibusawa (Kanazawa Prefecture), about 75 mins south west of Shinjuku. From there, it’s a short bus ride to Okura, where some hiking trails start through the Tanzawa-Oyama Kokutei Park.
To no Take 塔ノ岳 is a 1,491 metre mountain that attracts a lot of hikers – even on muggy, humid, misty Japanese summer days. The last row of vending machines before leaving the road and hitting the steep slope was very tempting. I must have lost litres of sweat climbing that mongrel of a hill. From bottom to top was a climb of around 1,100 metres.
At the first Yamagoya (mountain hut), I was wondering what I thought I was doing. It’s one thing to plan a hiking trip from the comfort of an airconditioned apartment, but it’s another thing again to execute the plan in this level of humidity. The yamagoya sell food, drinks, beer, and often accommodation. The standard rate seems to be around 5,500 yen for a sleeping space plus two meals. No tent necessary, but could be a bit squished in if there are a lot of people hoping for space.
The first yamagoya was a good stop for a break. Not only because it was the last water source before the summit, but also because it’s where I made friends and teamed up for the rest of the day with another hiker out by himself. Hayashi-san is an IT guy from Kawasaki, and even had a stove for a cup of tea for the summit.
Because of the humidity, it only got misty/foggy at the top, although thankfuly the temperature was a bit cooler. Along with the rest of the crowd, Hayashi-san and I ate our bento (mine puchased with throngs of other hikers at the conbini inside Shinjuku Station at 6:30 in the morning) on the summit, facing the direction of Fuji-san. On a good day, it’s apparently out there along with the rest of the Alps.
We came down a different path, passing some rock scambles with chains installed to haul yourself up the rockface. More yamagoya (some closed), and lots more people. We managed to get to our bus stop with only a minute or so to spare before the bus left – the next option was a 90 minute wait, or another hour down the hill to another bus stop.
Click on the photos to scroll through the album of the climb up and down To no Take:
It was then off to Tsurumaki Onsen, at the next station along the train line, to give the aching calves a soak. No photos of that obviously, so the next best thing is a link to the Onsen’s website so you can get the general idea. The onsen was full of hikers recovering from the day’s exercise.