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Tsukuba-san with Dim

My friend Dim & I had a good day yesterday up in Tsukuba, a town about an hour north-east of Tokyo.  We intended to climb Tsukuba-san, the smallest and easiest to climb of Japan’s “Hyaku-mei-san” (100 famous mountains), but also probably the most famous other than Fuji-san.  Tsukuba-san is around 800 metres high, and has been regarded as a Shinto holy mountain for centuries.

Tsukuba city is well known for its university and research institutes, and that’s why Dim now lives there.  Dim has only recently relocated to Tsukuba from Chiba, so I got an invite to go and visit and check out what’s there.

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Our day started at around 4pm.  Since Dim was in Tokyo for the morning, we arranged to meet up at lunchtime and head up together. By the time we met up in Akihabara, caught the Tsukuba Express train to Tsukuba, found somewhere for lunch, worked out which bus to catch to Tsukuba-san, connected to a second bus to get to Tsukuba-san Jinja (shrine), and started walking up the hill, we’d lost a lot of time!  On top of that, the clouds looked very thunderous and threatening, and everyone was headed back in the opposite direction, giving the two foreigners going the other way rather strange looks.  We weren’t too sure whether we’d get to the top and back before the last bus back to Tsukuba city, and the bus driver sounded disapproving when we asked for directions to the top so late in the afternoon.

It was about at this stage that we were thankful for that most Japanese of things that are often placed on famous mountains – the cable car.  Aiming to catch the last bus before we even set out, we caught one of the last cable cars for the afternoon up the mountain.  It was an 8 minute ride through the forest to a terminus at the top, which had ferro-concrete circular turret observation deck.  Yippee.

We took the path up to the summit, but there was no view with the weather approaching.  On a clear day, the Kanto Plain offers a clear view to Tokyo.  Then it was a walk down through the forest and the beautiful cedar trees, some of which were huge.  And we made it back to the bus stop with about 5 minutes to spare.

Back at Tsukuba, Dim decided to try out his local Indian restaurant, which was run by some Nepalese people, resulting in a curious mish-mash of English, Japanese and Nepalese being spoken.

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