Mitakesan [Mount Mitake]

Ever since I climbed Mt. Fuji two summers ago, I haven't had any inclination to hike another mountain.      It was the first time I have ever hiked a mountain, and I realized then that I am not a hiker.  Don't get me wrong; I love nature.  I am always in complete awe of the natural surroundings that have barely been touched by man.  It's just that, well, I am out of shape.  Just because I'm a "skinny girl" doesn't mean I can climb up better than anyone else.  Luckily, I'm determined to reach my goals, including making it to the top of the mountain.  Plus, having senior citizens and little children pass me up the mountain was enough motivation for me to keep going—even if it was at a turtle pace.  So it wasn't until my culture club (a group of mostly Japanese and American women sharing each other's cultures) scheduled a trip to Mt. Mitake, part of Chichibu Tama Kai National Park, two weeks ago that I again hiked up a mountain.  

Fortunately this time wasn't so painful.  I still huffed and puffed—it's okay, I'm burning calories—as we walked up, but the fact that I didn't have to walk as much since we took a cable car up the mountain made things better.  MAYBE next time I'll remember to eat breakfast instead of cleaning the house and getting the kids ready for preschool.  (Really, where are my priorities?)  At least the kids ate breakfast.  I did, however, remember to bring coffee and water with me.  Smart and ready, I know.

We parked at Takimoto Station, and we rode the cable car up to Mitakesan Station.  This cable car took 6 minutes to get 2,726' above sea level.

This is the view of Tokyo from Mitakesan Station.

At first, we were going to take the chair lift up the mountain, but some of us decided to hike.  Since I haven't hiked in two years, I thought it would be fun.  I think I used "taking photos of the beautiful surroundings" as my excuse to be the slowpoke in the back of the group.  We were going to meet the other half of our group at Musashi Mitake Shrine, which is at the top of the mountain.  It's always a good sign to see a torii gate as it means we're going the right way.

As we were walking to the shrine, we passed a sacred tree, Jindaikeyaki Zelkova tree.  It is 1,000 years old, and it's 75' tall!  Doesn't it look like there is a face in the tree?

A temizuya where people cleanse their hands and mouth before entering the shrine.

This was a small temizuya right below the one above.  Perhaps it's for children and individuals with special needs.

About to pass through the Zuishinmon.

Zuishinmon Gate

View from my steep walk up the hill towards the shrine.

A statue in front of the Homotsuden (treasure hall) displaying the yoroi (suits of armor) and tachi (sword).

A komainu, lion-dog, protecting the shrine by warding off evil spirits.

Musashi Mitake Shrine, which is atop Mt. Mitake at 3,047' above sea level.  It has been standing atop this mountain for almost 2,000 years.

Emas, wooden tablets with prayers or wishes, hanging on the wall.

Shimenawa, special plated rope, and shime, strips of white paper, marking that this is a sacred place.

There were quite a few sacred buildings right behind the Musashi Mitake Shrine.

This one has brilliant colors.

Inari Shrine, God of Agriculture

Kitsune, fox guardians of the Inari Shrine.

As we walked out of the shrines and back down the shopping street, the "Drink Coca-Cola" sign grabbed my attention.  Pretty interesting since many of the other texts were in Kanji, Katakana, or Hiragana.

This beautiful, red tree caught my eye as we were passing this lodge.

It's amazing how many parts of the mountain haven't changed colors yet.

We hiked down and up to Tenboushokudou, the Observation Cafeteria, and this is the view of Japan from here.  Too bad there was overcast that afternoon!

Our delicious lunch!  I ate everything but the fish's head and tail (despite the Japanese women trying to get me to eat them).  My family except me will eat every part of the fish, too, but I've never been that adventurous.

A sacred tree near the cafeteria and Ubayasu Shrine

Another sacred tree

We took the chair lift down to Mitakesan Station, and this was my first time sitting in one!  It was a pretty cool experience.  By the way, I'm so glad I took this trip without my toddlers because we would never have been able to ride the chair lift down since they're so squirmy.  We could keep hiking, though!

Anyone want to try a fish on a stick before leaving?

Mt. Mitake
Websites: (English translations) (English translations—the one I found most helpful as it had a map of the mountain)

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