Mt Tsukuba is a popular hiking destination just outside Tokyo in Ibaraki. Hikers like it for two adjacent peaks that make it easy to hop from one to the other and enjoy two views of the Kanto region. But Mt Tsukuba also has two sides. Alas - it can be either triumph or nemesis.
At 877 metres Mt Tsukuba is rated as easy. Those who have found it such have triumphed over a steep rocky trail interspersed with granite boulders, with knife-like, jutting edges forming the so called steps. These triumphant have held fast on slippery slopes and tendon stretching steps. They have managed to skip their way through a trail decorated with skeins of tangled and twisted thick tree roots. I didn’t. Mt Tsukuba was my nemesis. I fell.
I managed to make it to the top of one peak, Nantai. In bad shape, I had to bypass the swooned-over views and the other peak, Nyotai, and take the cable car down. Meeting your nemesis means you call it a day. You get back on your horse and head home.
Despite this set back, it was glorious to be at Mt Tsukuba, whether nemesis or triumph. It is truly one of Japan’s best 100 mountains, verdant with gigantic beech, oak, cypress, even conifers, many of which are over 1000 years old. They form a cathedral of majestic tree towers to walk through. At least I got the thrills of hugging a few.
The town of Tsukuba itself is delightful. It is wrapped around by a haven of nature parks and the walking paths of the historic Tsukuba University and its Endowment Lands. Tsukuba Shrine at the base of Mt Tsukuba is much sought after by those seeking love’s sweet dream in happy relationships. Signs of the temple’s 3000 year old history are prominent in its wooden structures.
I stayed at Hotel Oyo Tsukuba Sky, a 20-30 minute walk from the station. It is dingy and worn, but comfortable enough, and made homely by the really kind family owners. The hotel is part of farmland which provides peaceful walks through pastoral Tsukuba. The mall opposite has two supermarkets, a pharmacy, and food outlets including Nepali food! An immensely popular ramen restaurant is next to the mall.
I’ll return to Tsukuba one day.