This post has been a long time coming. It’s not that way due to anything particularly special about it, but it was on this hike that the camera I started the trip out with decided to retire and some other issues arose the next day that took my attention elsewhere, so it got pushed to the back burner before it really got started and eventually fell off the back of the stove. Fortunately Idle in Tokyo went there recently and reading his article reminded me that I hadn’t done anything with mine.
The trip began on 25. November by oversleeping, which left me too little time to get out for a reasonable hike before losing daylight in my usual hiking area but very well rested and faced with perfect hiking weather to make use of. I had a description of the Mt. Takao hike that made it sound like a busy but otherwise good fit for the day, so I set off. Luck was with me and the Chuo Line train I caught at the main Tokyo station was heading to Takao, so I was able to bypass several transfers I would have otherwise needed to make. Once at Takao it was a quick transfer to Takaosanguchi on the Keio line both in terms of making the transfer and the actual ride, as it was only one more station past Takao.
Based on what I had read, I was expecting my arrival at Tokyo’s house mountain to be a similar scene to the trailhead at Mt. Si, Seattle’s house mountain. I could not have been further away from the truth. I was expecting the path from the station to the trailhead to be somewhat difficult to find, not a broad boulevard lined with shops and restaurants and terminating at a cable car station.
I bypassed the mechanical assistance and opted for the longest of 6 trails, which was busy but not annoyingly so. Given the apparent popularity of the destination I was pleasantly surprised to find that the trail was a proper trail with some areas you had to pay a bit of attention to your footing. After just enough time to feel like I had done something with the day, I found myself at the top. The “summit” was a madhouse of people with restaurants and vending machines (and a decent view of Mt. Fuji), but there is something to be said for buying a beer and sitting on a rock wall to enjoy the view after a good hike up when you went in knowing it wasn’t going to be a quiet spot anyway. Had I had more time I would have liked to have headed off on some of the ridges heading deeper into the mountains, but there wasn’t enough time on this day. It was while taking pictures on the summit that the battery door latch on my (up to then) trusty Olympus Stylus 740 broke.
On the way down I opted to follow the main path just so I had the full experience…. and I’m not sure I can adequately describe it. Lots of people moving at the pace of the slowest person on a mix of surfaces, mainly paved (for much of the way the service road to the top) but occasionally something approaching a trail, with more restaurants and snack booths every couple of minutes, then entering a temple complex from the top and seeing the shrines in reverse order. Interesting, but when I saw a side trail pointing to a waterfall I took it and escaped from the throng shortly before getting to the point where the cable cars came.
The waterfall trail was refreshingly rugged as it switchbacked down the side of a ravine and had a few others going down it (lesson learned – not one to go up unless really looking for a workout), and at the bottom there was a small waterfall which I assume is more impressive in the spring. Shortly after the waterfall the trail joined a paved light-duty road which followed the stream down to the station.