Japan 2019 Day 6June 27, 2019
Japan 2019 Series
Day six of our trip to Japan was meant to be a trip to Kyoto but a last minute change of plans due to fortunate weather meant we decided to climb Mount Takao - a mountain about an hour outside Tokyo that has views of Mt. Fuji on a good day!
To start the day we headed to Ueno, a vibrant shopping district near the centre of Toyko so I could check out some of the clothes shops in the area. I had heard of two particularly good shops Americyana and Hinoya that stocked good Japanese denim - which is several notches above the quality you find in the UK. I was on the lookout for a pair of black slim lightweight jeans or a nice denim jacket. Hinoya was the first store we checked out but I didn’t find anything that I liked so we headed onto Americyana - on first glance there wasn’t much to see there either but we spotted a flight of stairs lined with denim jackets which opened up into a second floor dedicated to shirts, leather jackets, and fortunately - denim jackets. After a while of trying on jackets and eliminating ones that weren’t the style I was after I settled on a lighter wash jacket in a medium, whilst in UK sizes I’m a XS, here in Japan I’m somewhere between a S or a M depending on the brand.
Happy with my purchase we grabbed a train to Tokyo station and exchanged our JR Pass exchange vouchers for our full seven-day JR Pass to give us free travel on all JR lines. At the same time we booked our ticket reservations for tomorrow to Kyoto.
The trip to Takao itself is fairly arduous - it requires several subway changes as well as a lengthy train ride to Takao itself and due to our shopping, as well as a a general slow start to the day we didn’t actually reach the foot of the mountain until 2pm by which point I was regretting shoving a laptop and a denim jacket into my bag. Whilst there’s a cable car that takes you half way up the mountain Joel and I are adventurous people and figured we might as well just walk it - despite the fact I had a laptop and my Ueno shopping in my backpack.
The climb to the cable car station took us about 45 minutes of solid uphill walking but the view on the way was spectacular, although the sweating was pretty intense. Fortunately there are plenty of benches that line the path where we could pause and regret having not taken the cable car.
Once we reached the cable car point the steep inclines gave way to much smoother paths, a fantastic view of Tokyo, and a snack stall. We hadn’t eaten lunch so we bought some Dango from the nearby stall. Dango are small, steamed dumplings made of rice flour skewered on a stick and covered in a sweet sauce. Dango are also extremely chewy - I ate the first two off of my stick but then had to pass my third one to Joel. This is be a good point to highlight another eccentricity of Japanese society - the lack of bins. The Japanese see rubbish as a personal responsibility and so bins for public consumption are out of the ordinary. I can count on one hand the number of public bins I’ve seen and even private bins (in museums or other places of interest) are somewhat unusual. The Japanese just take their rubbish home as a norm. Mount Takao of course was no exception to this rule and so there was no way to dispose of the skewers once we were finished with our Dango and so we had to shove them in our bags and wait until we got back to our AirBnB.
We proceeded up the trail which started to fork into different paths. Shrines and temples started to appear every so often as well. There was one particular shrine that was just a little off the path that was a lot of fun - it was lined by smalls pillars that had little wheels that could be spun inside them. Lots of tactile temple fun!
The plan was to try and get a view of Mt. Fuji - hence we dropped our plans when the good weather appeared. We caught a glimpse through some clouds overhead - not the best view but it was at least close enough! After sitting on a wall with a view towards Tokyo we headed back down via an alternate - and far less straightforward path that had narrow perilous ridges but a better view and a more direct path.
The rest of the journey down we opted to cheat and use the cable car but by this point we were dehydrated and hungry so the 180¥ was a no-brainer. Once we managed to navigate our way back to Tokyo I worked on catching up blogging and then crashed out - it was probably my best night sleep so far this trip!