Our Japanese teacher recommended visiting Mount Takao (高尾山 Takao-san in Japanese), so since it was a beautiful day outside yesterday, off we went! We left from Meidaimae, but from Shinjuku Station, it would probably be just under an hour on the semi special express on the Keio line to Takaosanguchi Station at the base of the mountain. It’s an easy escape from central Tokyo if you feel like getting some nature into your life.
Normally, I do not like any nature in my life, but climbing (I use that word loosely) Takao-san was fun and very easy (even for me).
The specialty food of the mountain is tororo soba, or soba with grated nagaimo (a kind of slimy potato) on top. If I’m going to spend my time outside on a mountain, at least it’s a mountain with a specialty food and a lot of tasty snacks on the way.
There are stops all the way up the mountain selling different kinds of tororo soba.
You can hike all the way up Takao-san, or you can be lazy like me and ride the ropeway halfway up.
Mike thought the ropeway was fun but I thought it was scary!
Scary because there’s no bar across your lap the way there usually is on these kind of things. (See the two women in the photo above.) It’s just a seat and you’re sitting on it… and that’s it. There’s nothing (except gravity) keeping you in the seat and from plunging to your death. (Okay, there’s a safety net below you but still! You’re dangling high above a huge mountain! In these photos there’s ground below, but only because I was too afraid to use my camera when we weren’t over solid ground.)
The view from the top of the ropeway station (about halfway up the mountain). Sugoi!
Watch out for monkeys.
Dango! Dango are basically dumplings made from rice flour. They’re chewy and quite similar to mochi. These ones were being roasted over a fire before being brushed with a delicious sweet and savoury soy sauce glaze.
Yum! Mountain snacks are the best snacks.
They also sold little packets of wine. You know, in case you need wine on your hike up the mountain.
This is tako-sugi, the tree with octopus roots. The JNTO says “Because its roots project out just like the legs of an octopus, it is called the tako-sugi (octopus cedar). This is a sacred tree revered as a deity and is mentioned in a legend associated with Tengu, a long-nosed goblin.”
Speaking of Tengu, here’s a cute one! He’s eating goma (sesame) dango.
I forget which of the paths we took the rest of the way up the mountain (there are several), but it was scenic.
Takao-san Tengu souvenirs.
Mike in the wild. (Once we reached a certain point, there was snow on the mountain.)
The view from the top, which is not-so-spectacularly captured on my tiny camera.
In the direction of Mount Fuji, which you can see on a clear day.
Also at the top, we had some of the aforementioned tororo soba!
Going back down, we took the cable car instead of the ropeway.
Apparently it’s the steepest funicular railway in Japan. (Which you cannot tell from this photo.)
At the bottom, we got more mountain snacks. Who can resist freshly roasted senbei (rice crackers)?
I think rice crackers are my favourite Japanese snack. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up eating them, but I love them a lot.
So that was Mt. Takao. If you’re ever in Tokyo and are looking for an outdoor activity, I’d recommend Takao-san. Normally I hate outdoor activities, but I’d go again. Mostly for the snacks. So I also recommend it if you like snacks. And if you wanted to climb Mount Fuji but it’s not climbing season (you can only climb Fuji-san in the summer), this would be a fun alternative. Just watch out for monkeys and goblins.