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Posts tagged Mt. Takao

Religious rites on a holy mountain side

mount takao mt. priest chanting next to waterfall

As we came down the trail (one of many and I have no idea which one) on Mt. Takao we found ourselves alone with a priest and a waterfall. The video below gives you a fuller picture of the experience. You’ll want to crank up the volume to hear the priest chanting over the sound of the waterfall.

Inari Shrine at Yakuoin Temple on Mt. Takao

kitsune yakuoin takaosan yukuji

The grounds for this Inari Shrine are part of the Buddhist temple on Mount Takao formally known as Takao-san Yakuo-in Yuki-ji, and most commonly known as just Takaosan Yakuoin (高尾山薬王院). This place was supposedly established in 744 on the orders of Emperor Shomu as a base for Buddhism in eastern Japan. I have no way of knowing how long these torii and structures have been around, but I think it is safe to say that they are much more recent creations. This shrine has more Shinto characteristics than Buddhist ones.

Momijiya (もみじや) on Mt. Takao

mount takao tokyo mountain climbing hiking

Momijiya shop on Mt. Takao

One thing about Japan that is very different from anywhere else in the world I’ve hiked is that you frequently don’t have to be very careful with your provisioning. That said, the Japanese themselves usually go way overboard on their own provisioning while hiking. It isn’t uncommon to see someone out for a day hike of a few hours with enough in their backpack to last them for a week.

For instance, if you were to climb Mt. Takao (高尾山), Mt. Mitake, or even Mt. Fuji (all fairly close to Tokyo) you will find shops along the hiking route (and at the top!) selling various food stuffs, water, souvenirs, etc. On your way down a different route it’s the same thing. I guess that isn’t too surprising given how convenient everything is in Japan’s cities. You can’t walk more than about 50 steps in most of Tokyo without passing at least one convenience store.

Today’s photo is of one such shop I encountered on my way down Mt. Takao. Momiji means Japanese Maple so I’m guessing this place looks great right about now and for the past couple weeks with the fall foliage. This photo was taken in January though. January is a great time to hike up Mt. Takao as the crowds aren’t so bad and the odds of a great view of Mt. Fuji from the top are much better in winter.

Some items I can see in this picture that you could possible consume are oden, dango, and nikuman. Maybe you aren’t hungry, but you want something to drink? Well, there are at least three vending machines in the far left of this image loaded with Pocari Sweat (ポカリスエット) along with other beverages. How many mountains in the USA (or anywhere else in the world outside of Japan) do you know of that have vending machines on or near the top?

Getting to Kofu


Perhaps I should back up and present my day in Kofu chronologically. I took the Keio Line from Shinjuku to Takao Station for two reasons. The first is that it costs 190 yen less (each way) than JR, and the second is that the views are better. You can see Mt. Fuji on a clear day from Keio’s Kitano Station, but it wasn’t clear enough yet on this day. If you get on a semi-limited express train (like I did) the Keio Line is actually faster too.

I transfered at Takao Station onto the JR Chuo Line. On the JR platform is a giant Tengu head statue. Tengu is the symbol of Mt. Takao, which you can get to from this station but not as easily as from the Takaosanguchi Station on the Keio Line.

The train I took, pictured above, from Takao to Kofu is the exact same one I took 22 years ago according to my memory. Japan is full of improvements in the past few decades but JR doesn’t seem to have changed a thing to the regular trains on this line.

ootsuki station fujiyoshida fuji five lakes map directions

The views from the train were really nice–rivers, lakes, fishermen, sakura, mountains, older Japanese homes–things that are not so commonly viewed from trains in Tokyo. The train stations are also much smaller. Everything is a bit more charming.

The first decent sized station after Takao is Ootsuki. From Ootsuki you can head south to Fujiyoshida or to the Fuji Five Lakes Area. I stayed on the train though. The above photo is of a map of the area that I took from inside the train while we were stopped at the station.

jidohanbaiki cherry blossoms blue sky kai-yamato station

The blossoms along this route were really fantastic at times. Sometimes it seemed to be snowing as blossoms fluttered around the train as we speed through a tunnel of blooming trees. The sun came out, for one of the first times during the cherry blossom season, which made things look even better.

enzan higashiyamanashi station view cherry blossoms

I’m not sure if the above photo is from Enzan Station or Higashiyamanashi Station, but the view was great.

The City of Yamanashi in Yamanashi Prefecture had orchard after orchard of blossoming trees. I’m not sure if they were cherry blossoms as they were pink instead of the normal white. Yellow, ground flowers (rapeseed perhaps) bloomed beneath them. With the mountains, partially blue sky, and white fluffy clouds, it made for an impressive scene (and one somewhat different than the one pictured above).

The people in Yamanashi Ken have always been very good to me. I got up to let four, older Japanese ladies sit together when they got on in Yamanashi. That was enough to turn me into an instant friend in their eyes. They shared their candy with me, and we had a good time talking about the area and Kofu, which is where they were also going to experience the same festival.

Mt. Takao – Part 2

As mentioned in a prior entry about Mt. Takao, our best view of Mt. Fuji was from the train. This was the view, or lack thereof, of Mt. Fuji from the top before lunch.

After lunch on the Mt. Takao summit, with a bit more zoom on the camera and a touch of clearing, we could see a tad more of Mt. Fuji.

There are a few places selling food, drink, and souvenirs on the top of Mt. Takao. Perhaps as a reminder to those who would leave their garbage behind, there is this statue of おそうじ小僧 (Young Buddhist Priest Cleaning). We saw a lady hiker, with a bag, cleaning up the trail on the way down.

Mount Takao 高尾山

A mere 370 yen train ride from Shinjuku lands you at the bottom of Mt. Takao. There are lots of ways to get up the mountain. We took the Inariyama Trail as our guidebook says it is the least crowded and includes nice views of Mt. Fuji. Neither was true on this day.

Our best views of Mt. Fuji were from the train on the way there and from the train on the way back. While we were hiking and when we ate lunch on the top of Mt. Takao, Mt. Fuji was mostly obscured by clouds. If you want a picture of Mt. Fuji and can see Mt. Fuji from the train (after Kitano Station) you may want to hop off at the Keio-Katakura Station (京王片倉駅) as there is a good view from the station platform (near the rear of the train). You can then get on the next train and your train fare won’t be any different, assuming you don’t exit the station.

I was amazed at the crowds. I figured few would be climbing Mount Takao in winter, on the last Wednesday of January no less. Not so. The trail was swarming with people and hundreds of people were on top of the mountain. I can’t imagine how crazy crowded it must be on a weekend or holiday during spring, summer, or fall.

Takaosan Yakuoin Yukiji Temple (高尾山薬王院有喜寺) was one of the nicer temples I’ve experienced. Don’t miss it if you are hiking Mt. Takao. We almost did.

The colorful flag/banner/hanging seemed to be on all of the Buddhist temples during January. They are gone now that February has arrived.

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