Adding myself to the two and a half million annual visitors to Mt. Takao has always been a pleasure for me. This became doubly so when on my most recent trip, my son joined me for his first ascent of Tokyo's favourite mountain.
When I first hiked up Mt. Takao, almost twenty years ago, I did so without making use of the cable car. In those days, being in a new country and very much budget conscious, I chose to walk instead. Subsequent trips, though, would find me and my friends taking the cable car to the halfway point and walking the rest of the way.
Not this time. This time, the wait for the cable car was almost forty minutes. By the time we would board, we would almost be halfway up the mountain. We decided to walk. The weather was fine, the mood was buoyant, and with the sense of papa pride that my son would make his first ascent of the mountain completely on foot, off we went.
Out of the many trails leading up to the summit, we chose the basic one, Trail 1 with the intention of taking Trail 4 for the return journey. Trail 4 would lead us past the Miyamabashi suspension bridge - which I had never yet visited - where we would come across some travellers from the Philippines and have a great little time sharing walking stories and photos. Trail 4 also took us to the cable car station and a nice comfortable reward for my son and his efforts.
Along the way, we came across the famous Octopus Cedar, a tree whose roots have the decided look of an octopus's tentacles, sun drenched jizo statues seated amongst the winter foliage, huge tengu mountain goblin temples, sacred trees, monkey parks and Buddhist stone spinning wheels.
Starting from the base and being able to observe the mountain up close and personal is all the more enjoyable for being able to do so on foot. Mt. Takao is a personal source of joy and suffice as to say, to have finally been able to introduce the mountain to my son was a dream come true.