|Momiji - Maple tree|
Since we were at the New Sanno we just had to roll out of bed and hop on the train. I found out, from the pamphlet I got from ITT, that there is a discount ticket for purchase at Shinjuku Station. This meant that we would get to Hachioji a few miles from the gingko street, but it was an easy ride and maybe we would just start out by hiking Takao-san. Shinjuku to Takaosanguchi, and back, on the Keio line cost about 800 Yen. The round trip chair lift or cable car ticket is about 900 Yen. Purchasing the discount ticket saved about 500 Yen each, for adults. Mackenzie's tickets were all half price. Garytt doesn't require a train ticket yet, but we did have to buy him a chair lift ticket at Takao Station. All in all, we saved about 1200 Yen on tickets.
So, we left Hiroo Station and made it to Shinjuku around 1015. I followed the directions on the paper, pretty easy. Pushed a few buttons, told it two adults and one child, it spit out four tickets to each of us. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy! We walk over to the gate and look at our tickets....all in Japanese!
We step back and try to figure out what in the world goes where. Our first try: put in ticket number one. Nope. Spit right back out at us. Then, I realize that the kanji on the ticket matches the kanji on the signs around us: Shinjuku. Then, I pull out the info on where we're going. Yup, another match: Takaosanguchi. So, we enter ticket number two. Success!! We quickly figure out that the first ticket is our instructions. The second ticket gets us from Shinjuku to Takaosanguchi. The third ticket gets us on the chair lift (or cablecar) up the mountain. The fourth ticket gets us back to Shinjuku. Shew...figured that out! We get to the correct track and wait for our 1031 time. The train took an hour, I think this is the longest train ride we've had on one train.
|Our view while we waited in line for the chair lift. Not so bad!|
Mt. Takao is right on the boundary between Japan's subtropical and temperate forests. Because of this it is known as an Eden of wildlife. ~ Mt. Takao Guide Book. Eden of wildlife, huh? Ok, we shall see. Mt. Takao is on the southeast part of the Kanto mountain area and was awarded three stars (the most that can be awarded) by Michelin in 2007.
|Manhole cover for Takaosan|
We walked on up and arrived at the first snack station. We picked a seat away from the crowds and ate our lunch. While everyone ate, I snapped a few pictures. I kept seeing everyone eating these little pastries on sticks. I thought they looked yummy. And, everyone else was eating them, so I wanted one too. Well, the line was super long, so I decided to wait.
|Looking out toward the Kanto Plain|
After lunch, we were back on the paved trail and heading up Takaosan. On the way, we passed Tako-sugi, Octopus Cedar Root. What is an octopus cedar root, you ask. Well, the story goes a little something like this: long ago, a woodsman planned to cut the roots of this cedar tree because they were in the way. But, the night before he was going to cut the roots, the tree saved itself! The tree twisted its roots around like octopus arms.
Our #1 hiker: Mackenzie (in purple to the right of that tree) would walk way ahead of all of us. Garytt would try to catch up but she would just walk faster to get away from him. She likes to be on her own when we hike. She needs her quiet time. And, Boy N.E.V.E.R. stops talking!!!!!
|The four trees on the sign above, in real life.|
The last bit of stairs were pretty tough for the little legs in our group. Mackenzie had to take a few rests. Garytt, however, took off! So far ahead that it took us several minutes to even find him. When we did find him, he was, of course, chatting away with a couple of older Japanese ladies. They were in a full blown conversation! Older Japanese ladies love Garytt. And, he is more than happy to tell them all about his dog, and karate, and How to Train Your Dragon, and dinosaurs, and monster trucks, and whatever else pops in his head.
|Doesn't that wispy grass make the picture pretty?|
When we got to the top of the stairs we heard sirens somewhere off to the right of us. We turned and saw three little rescue vans coming up the mountain. They were curving around the switchbacks and moving up the incline. At one point, though, the turn was too tight, so they would have to pull part of the way around the curve, have one guy get out and direct them backwards so they didn't run into anyone, and then head up around the rest of the curve. One of the three vans had a guy get out, and I don't know if this was on purpose or not, but the van took off and the emergency worker took off running up the mountain after it! Poor guy!
After a short rest, some snacks and a couple apple juices, we headed back down the mountain. This time we took trail 4 down, the Suspension Bridge Trail, about one mile long. The beginning of the descent was all stairs. They weren't very steep, but there were a lot! On this side of the mountain we saw fir and beech trees.
Part of the way down the chair lift (which, by the way, was getting pretty chilly at 4 in the afternoon!) Garytt came out of his anger issue, and decided he really liked the dango! He finished off what the other three couldn't eat.