Hiking Mt. Mitake (御岳山)

It’s time for the next post, this time on the subject of Mt. Mitake, on which I was hiking together with two friends. The mountain belongs to Tokyo prefecture (it takes only about an hour from Shinjuku station to get there by train), but it felt like we were really far away from the city!

But first things first: After arriving at Mitake train station we first checked the local map to find our way to the mountain, which is located in a mountain range in the west of Tokyo. The way up lead us along mountain rivers, narrow valleys and through lush green forests, making us quickly forget just how close we were to outskirts of Japan’s largest mega city.

Further up the mountain we reached the rope way train station, where we would take the train to skip the steepest bit of the way and enjoy the beautiful view from the train windows. The weather was beautiful on that day and we weren’t the only travelers – by far! The train was packed with people who wanted to get up to the top and everyone seemed to be in a good mood, including us 🙂

On the top of Mt. Mitake there is a small village with narrow, winding roads, traditional houses and beautiful scenic views. It’s definitely worth it to take your time up there to stroll around for a bit, take a look at the souvenir shops and enjoy a drink or some meal.

At the end of the village we got to the Musashi Mitake srhine, one of the most revered shrines of the Kanto region, as it sits on top of the blessed Mt. Mitake. It is said to have been built in the year 736 and became an important base for worship. When Japan was united under Tokugawa Ieyasu, the shrine was rebuilt to face towards Tokyo, the new capital of the realm. Directly next to the shrine stands the treasure hall, which houses many offerings made by important families in Japanese history, including two national treasures (one of those is the Akaito-oroshi Oyoroi, one of the oldest complete armor sets in Japan – the picture didn’t turn out any good however, so you’ll have to look it up yourself) and a number of cultural properties.

With the shrine behind us we entered the pristine forests on the slopes of Mt. Mitake again. Our way led us downwards to the Nanayonotaki falls, which are the biggest waterfalls on the mountain. The water in the small bassin below was still really chilly and felt very refreshing, which was also quite helpful as the way led us upwards again, over labyrinthine entagled roots to the Tengu rock, which is supposed to be a lair of Tengu – fabled beings from Japanese mythology.

The way led us further up again, while we were following the small river that had been feeding the waterfall we saw some time ago. The river was lined with rocks, overgrown with moss, marking the area as the Mitake Rock Garden. So far away from the village only few other people passed us by and we had the beautiful scenery to ourselves most of the time. The air smelt fresh and spicy, totally different from the air in the canyons between Tokyo’s skycrapers.

However, we couldn’t stay in this green paradise forever, as the city was calling us back with its many duties and charms awaiting us. However, there was still some time to finish the day off with some ramen soup close to the station – what a fine ending!

I hope you enjoyed this article! Leave a comment if there’s anything you’d like to add or ask about! The next article should follow soon 😉