Even now, after more than a decade of visiting and photographing around Mount Mitakesan in western Tokyo, R. and I still find new pictures to take. Sometimes it’s something new or that we didn’t notice before, such as the goblins “hidden” in the renovated stairs which lead to the summit-top shrine, or a new lookout spot to the green serrated ridges of the surrounding mountains on the trail from Hinodesan to Tsurutsuru onsen; other times it’s a new way of seeing an old subject, such as the backlighting on the tengu tree this trip.
Mitakesan continues to be enjoying its moment, as there were far more visitors than we’re used to, and far more tourists at the shrine and on the trails. On the plus side, work crews have done some serious maintenance leading from Hinodesan down to the Tsurutsuru onsen; this section of the trail used to have steep, knee-aching stairs but have been replaced by far gentler, knee-saving steps.
Another great day at Mitakesan. Despite the growing crowds, I expect we’ll continue to return to one of our favourite power spots in Japan…
At least twice a year for the last eleven years, usually in December and May, R. and I make a pilgrimage to Mount Mitakesan in the Okutama mountains west of Tokyo. It’s our power spot, one of them, and it’s where we chose to exchange vows when we got married almost five years ago.
I’ve taken many, many pictures from Mitakesan and surrounding mountains in those 11 years, and a gallery is on the way… On our most recent trip, we were struck by the unkai sea of clouds on the first night – and the summit-top sunrise on the second.
It’s still a little early for the koyo autumn leaves season around Tokyo — think another month or so. This is, however, still a great time to get out of doors and out of The City, into the countryside.
This season, as R. and I continue to stretch our legs after a too-hot summer spent mostly indoors, we continue to look for new hikes around Tokyo. Last weekend we walked the 9 kilometre Okutama Mukashi Michi, the Okutama Old Road, which runs from Okutama Station on the JR line to (near) Lake Okutama.
I say “walked” because for the most part, that’s what we did as the route follows an asphalt road along an old rail line along a forested slope. Only in the last stretch, the final hour so as we neared Lake Okutama, did we veer off-road and onto a trail.
It’s a pleasant, not spectacular, route, and if you walk it in the direction we did — from train station to bus stop — it tops out at a very pleasant viewpoint overlooking Lake Okutama: the Aometachi Fudoson Yasumidokoro rest house. It’ll be a great place to see the turning of the leaves around Lake Okutama; it’s also, however, reached by a road which means I suspect a lot of day trippers will be there to share the view.
I say “walked” because for the most part, that’s what we did. The route follows an asphalt road along an old rail line along a forested slope. Only in the last stretch, the final hour so as we neared Lake Okutama, did we veer off-road onto a trail. There were some others on the trail, mostly young couples still in active city wear and families with toddlers and small children: this is not rugged terrain. We finished the route in the suggested time, 4 hours, which is a little unusual for us: we often take considerably longer than suggested times as we like to stop for breaks and to take pictures. As pleasant as the Okutama Mukashi trail is, there just weren’t that many photo ops to slow us down this time. I might have gotten some good pictures from the Shidaraku-bashi suspension bridge over the Tamagawa River, but honestly I preferred not to look down…