Another week, another mountain.
This time I’ve done my research again (shown between the inverted commas) and reluctantly selected Mt Mitake (御岳山) as my next climb.
By all accounts it’s a beautiful hike but it doesn’t come across as nearly as challenging as the other ones I’ve done so far.
Nonetheless, orchid assures me it’s well worthwhile. So that seals it for me.
“Located in the Okutama region, the westernmost part of Tokyo, the mountain can be reached in less than two hours from central Tokyo, and is accordingly popular among people looking for a break from the city.”
So from Shinjuku Station, I hop on the regular orange JR Chuō Line to Ōme Station (75min) but I need to transfer trains at Tachikawa (40min from Shinjuku).
At Ōme Station, I change to another orange train on the JR Ōme Line (waiting on the opposite platform) and get off at Mitake Station (20min). It only costs ¥890 one-way.
The lower station of the Mitake Cablecar is not far away but I opt for the quick Nisitokyo Bus, less than 10 minutes, and ¥270 one-way, with buses running every 1/2 hour or so.
Considered to be a sacred mountain, Mt Mitake is best known for the purple rengeshoma flowers that bloom in full-force from late August through to early September. Just my luck to miss out but I guess that means it’s not as crowded.
Although I do spy a handful flowering early.
“You’ll also find a ‘designated natural monument’ in the form of Jindai Keyaki – an ancient zelkova tree that measures 23m in height and 8.2m in circumference – as well as a large Japanese cedar known as Tengu no Koshikake Sugi, named because it looks like the perfect spot for Tengu, a long-nosed goblin who crops up regularly in Japanese folklore, to sit.”
I see all the other visitors lining up for the funicular but once again I’m here to hike so after getting some directions I head up the narrow service road.
It winds its way through a stunning landscape of tall cedars. It’s like being in a redwood forest although not nearly as big. But there are a lot and after a while I notice that those beside the road are numbered.
I love having the place to myself. Only the sound of birds and my own heart beating.
The peace and solitude is only broken by the occasional vehicle. One guy on a motor scooter is coasting downhill with the engine not running. Clever!
The dappled sunlight means it doesn’t feel as hot in the shade. And whilst it starts off sunny it later becomes overcast.
“From the upper station of the Mitake Cablecar it is a 20 – 30 minute walk to the Musashi-Mitake Shrine on the mountain’s summit (929m).”
“On your way, you’ll pass a small village with many Japanese style inns and souvenir shops, which have been catering to visitors and pilgrims to Mt Mitake for centuries. It’s believed that Musashi-Mitake Shrine has been serving as a center of mountain worship for almost 2000 years.”
It takes me just 45 minutes to reach the quaint little village. It’s a relatively easy walk although fairly steep.
“An excellent hiking map, which shows the extensive network of hiking trails in the Okutama region, is available for free at the Mitake Visitor Center (closed on Mondays), halfway between the upper cablecar station and the shrine.”
I reach the shrine in about another 15 minutes as the service road goes straight to the village where the path from the cablecar meets.
Wandering around the shrine I notice some young acolytes being coached in the performance of some ritual or discipline but I’m unable to discreetly photograph them. It’s a shame as it looks fascinating.
The view from the shrine is quite spectacular but then I decide it’s time to head off.
“From the shrine, you have various hiking options to neighbouring peaks and valleys.”
So it’s onto Mt Ōtake I go.
level of difficulty : 8/20 (I wouldn’t even rate it if you catch the cablecar)
duration : 2 hours (without the cablecar)