“Just as the Minano River, which flows down from Mt. Tsukuba, begins to increase in depth from a small river, my feelings about you are getting deeper and deeper.” So went the verse found in Japan's most famous Japanese poetry collection, the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu.
A mountain created some 100 million years ago, Mt. Tsukuba has featured in the heart and minds of Japanese for centuries. In the Kojiki, Japan's classical chronicles of the early myths and legends of the nation, it is written that the gods, Izanagi and Izanami created Japan. Some attribute Mt. Tsukuba to being their first creation and with such cultural and mythological weight behind it, Izanagi and Izanami, 'the gods that lay country' are enshrined at Mt. Nantai and Mt. Nyotai, the two peaks that make up Mt. Tsukuba.
This cultural influence continued well into the Edo period and beyond. According to fusui (feng shui) theory, the northeast direction was considered a positive influence, a source of ease and and knowledge. Mt. Tskuba is also located northeast of old Edo Castle, adding further depth to the mountain and its role within Japan's history.
Along with its culture and mythology, modern Mt. Tskuba also features many souvenir shops as you approach the mountain's shrine. A famous souvenir here is, interestingly, toad oil. After passing the torii gate, lies a beautiful red bridge called Shinkyo. Past the bridge stands the great Zuishinmon Gate. Further on visitors will find the Haiden prayer hall with its large bell. Smaller shrines like Kasuga and Itsukushima can also be found in the area.
Like most shrines, lucky charms and goshuin temple and shrine stamps can be had here. Wedding ceremonies are not uncommon either. Next to the shrines is Omido with its stunning view of the Kanto plain. Views of Tokyo Skytree can be had too. Visits to the shrine can be on foot which take about 90 minutes otherwise a cable care will reduce the travel time.
Mt. Tsukuba is a mountain rich with history, culture and nature, making it an excellent place to visit.