Sunday, January 5, 2014

Mount Miura Fuji and Takeyama Hike

Such a beautiful start to a fabulous hiking day!  I was too interested in my coffee at 0545 to think about actually getting the sunrise shot.  So, a 0700 shot is what you see.  
Mikan trees
A few days ago I was invited to hike with a few girlfriends - no kiddies to have to carry - so I was all in!  I met Nina in our lobby at 0705 and then we picked up Lee a few minutes later.  After parking near Womble gate we walked to Yokosuka Chuo and met up with Jenn, who was coming from Ikego. We hopped on the 0736 train for Tsukuihama Station.  Once at our last stop, we headed out of the station and to the left, towards our hiking trail.  We walked down a few streets, then by the fruit picking farm, and started our ascent.  
Here's a shot of me at the beginning of the hike.  
Chilly start...about 38, 
                                        I had on gloves, two jackets, a shirt, and a scarf.

Mt Miura Fuji is to the right of the shot above.  In the middle is Mt. Hodaiyama.  On the left is Mt. Takeyama.

I didn't think about turning on my map app when we started out, so I don't have a good map of our actual path.  But, on my map shot, we left Tsukuihama Station  (bottom of the screen shot), hiked to Mt Miura Fuji, over Mt.  Hodaiyama (not in the map database I guess, so it's not labeled), then to Mt. Takeyama.  We then went back to Mt Miura Fuji and took a slightly different path back to Tsukuihama Station.

 The scenery along the way was so pretty!  From the strawberry-picking houses, to the mikan orchards, to the community gardens, daikon fields, and cabbage was great to be out of the city and into a bit of farmland.
I've read somewhere in my travels that along hiking trails you will find statues like this.  I'm not quite sure what they are called.  I read in one place that they are called Jizo.  I have no idea if that's right, but I do know that the purpose of the statue is to protect the mountain as well as those that climb the mountain.  This one was being kept warm with a hat and scarf.  Apparently, the diety will look more favorably on you if you take care of it...from sun, wind, rain, cold.

Here is our group shot at the top of Mt Miura Fuji.  I read on a hiking site that Mt Miura Fuji is about 200 meters, around 650 feet.  We had an awesome view from here!  

 We found small daffodils in January?

Our view of the entrance to Tokyo Bay from the top of Mt Miura Fuji.

At the top of Mt Hodaiyama we found this gun battery.  It was used during WWII to protect the Bay.

 We left Hodaiyama and headed back down to the intersection that would take us to Takeyama.  I read that Takeyama is about 180m, 590 feet.  At the summit there was a pretty little temple.  I can't find the actual name of it, but it was much different from the big temples we have visited so far.  There is such a different feel to this one....much more intimate.  I didn't feel overwhelmed by the size of the buildings or the property.  It was so calming to be here and look around.

 Some of the wishes left for the New Year.  

I think the one on the right says something like, I wish for everyone who comes here to have good fortune.  Jenn translated it, but that was like, six hours ago...I can't even remember what I had for lunch two hours ago!

A decoration at the temple.  It is tradition to use pine in New Year's decorations.

At midnight on December 31st the temple bells are rung 108 times.  This symbolizes the Buddhist belief of 108 human sins, which can be washed away with the ringing of the bells.  I also found out today that when the bell is rung it is supposed to be a gift to the gods because of it's beautiful sound.
 After a few minutes to catch our breath at the top of Takeyama, we headed back to Mt. Miura Fuji.  I didn't take too many pictures at Mt Miura Fuji the first time through since there was another group there at the time.  So, this time I got a few shots.

This is a little offering site.  I think this is the smallest torii I've seen.  Someone left an offering of mikans.

Here is a cabbage patch on our way back down.

Another little statue all bundled up.

We were invited to the home of one of Nina's friends after our hike for a Japanese New Year meal.  This was my first visit to a Japanese home.  I didn't take too many pictures inside...only food shots....because I didn't want to weird her out by taking pictures of everything.  :)  We walked into the house entryway, where we put down our backpacks and took off our shoes (turning them so the toes of the shoes were pointing toward the door).  From here, we stepped up into the house.  Junko's home is so pretty!  The kitchen was small, compared to the American kitchens I'm used to, I'm not sure how it compares to other Japanese homes.  The ceiling was pretty high, and the storage utilized every inch of that height.  There was a dining table right next to the kitchen and then on the other side of the kitchen was a hallway...I didn't wander all over the house, so I'm not quite sure what the doors led to on that side of the house.  We sat at a small coffee table in the main room.  The coffee table had a big fluffy blanket under it, which we sat on, and then it had a blanket draped over it, with a table top sitting on top of the blanket.  I couldn't figure out why there was a blanket draped over the table legs, but under the tabletop, until I sat down.  The heat from either the floor or the blanket or maybe the table itself (? I'm not sure which) sent heat up into the blanket that was draped over the table.  So, we sat down and then pulled the edge of the tabletop blanket over our legs and the heat that was trapped under the table warmed up our legs nicely.

Okay, so back to the meal.  First, we had a plate of strawberries...yummy strawberries.  I think Junko said she got them at LaLa Port in Yokohama.  They were so sweet and delicious!  She then prepared oshiruko.  Which is a meal often eaten at New Years.  Basically, it is a soup made with azuki red beans and a little bit of sugar in water.  Then, she toasted mochi, which is a rice cake that has been pounded until it forms a paste, and Junko placed the mochi into the soup.  One of my first blogs describes, and shows, the process.  The mochi went well with the soup, but it was very chewy.  Apparently, there are quite a few stories each new year about how older and younger people die while eating mochi because it is so chewy.  My first bite was, of course, too big...silly gaijin.  My subsequent bites were much smaller, and much easier to chew.  We also had delicious green tea...nice, warm green tea!  It was a great meal, and I had such a fabulous time hanging out with four wonderful women!

The strawberries, tea and soup.
 Oh!  I almost, I guess when you visit a temple or shrine (I can't remember which she said) at the new year you can buy this container full of chopsticks.  The container has a small square cut out of one end.  We took the container, gave it a few good shakes, and then coaxed a set of chopsticks out.  The chopstick tells you how lucky your year is going to be...the red at the top....and what your fortune is for the year.  Junko wrote out the symbol for luck, which is the second kanji character, and then the top kanji character would either say big luck, medium (that's not the real word, but what else can I put between big and small?) luck, and then there is small luck.  I pulled a set that says small luck.  And, my fortune said that I would make new friends this year.

This is the box that the chopsticks were in.

WOW!  What a fantastic day!!!  The weather was pretty close to perfect.  It did get chilly in a few spots, but as soon as we hit the sun and moved up a few of the steep spots I warmed right up.  I did end up getting rid of one jacket and my scarf.  I took my gloves on and off throughout the trip.  My fortune rang true for today, I met two wonderful ladies, and I hope to be able to spend time with them again soon!

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