Mt Mitake 御岳山

Our 6th October hike took us to Mt Mitake, in Ome, one of Tokyo’s most western cities. This time, we had a lovely group of 4 to tackle the mountain. We all met at Mitake Station, just a 2.5hr train ride from our home in central Tokyo. Stepping off the train was a mix of awe at the beauty of the surrounding mountain ranges, and shock at the 18 degree temperature. From the train station, it was only a short 10 minute bus ride to the mountain’s cable car station. But, do you think we took the cable car? No, of course not! Mt Mitake is known for having numerous hiking trails beginning from the top of the mountain that give access to the surrounding mountains and areas like the famous mountain top rock garden. Therefore, many hikers take the cable car up so they have more time to explore the other trails. However, we’re always up for a challenge so we hiked from the bottom up a very steep but paved pathway to the top of the mountain.

The most surprising thing walking up the mountain was the amount of cars that passed us on the tiny, stone pathway, including the mail man! The hike to the top took about 1 hour straight uphill, so we were hanging out for some food by the time we reached the top. Luckily, Mt Mitake has a gorgeous mountain top village (of course, they all do) which provided us plenty of opportunities for food and souvenirs. Our first stop however was a ramen and katsudon lunch with an incredible view of the surrounding mountains, but then the heavy cloud and chill set in, so we decided to keep moving.

One of the most popular places to visit on the mountain is the Musashi-Mitake Shrine. Of course, by now, you probably realise that almost all Japanese mountains have a shrine right at the top. And this one was certainly glorious. The marbled stone steps that guide you up to the shrine were certainly a site to see with accompanying animal-carved seats as you ascend (no idea why, super random). The shrine was a magnificent structure, which forces you to wonder how they built such a structure 2000 years ago. Though on a clear day the views, I’m sure, would be spectacular, heavy cloud had set in on our day which gave a ‘misty mountain’ feel, as if dwarfs were going to pop out from the forest any minute (The Hobbit is a great movie, not going to apologise for the reference).

The next trail we decided to adventure along was to the mountain’s waterfalls and rock garden. Unfortunately, due to time restictions and loss of daylight, we opted out of the rock garden this time. But, it might have been a safer option. The waterfall trail led us to roots, rocks with supporting rope, and terrifying rusted metal stairs. But, the waterfall itself was so peaceful and gorgeous and the water was stunningly clear! The rocks were covered in bright green moss and a tree long was the best route to take over the lightly flowing stream. Sound a little like we walked into Narnia? That’s what we thought too! But, alas, mother nature had a different plan, and as the rain started again, we thought we should start the hike back up to the shrine. After the 危ない (abunai=dangerous) trek leading to the waterfall, we opted for a different route back up. Wasn’t a whole lot better. I mean, it was definitely safer but the old steps seemed to go on forever, but, have to get those leg gains.

Due to the fading daylight, we opted for the cable car option returning down the other side of the mountain, but not before we stopped in to get our usual celebratory ice cream, despite the cold temperature. Even the walk to the station was magical due to the thick cloud, dark moss, and golden lanterns leading our way. This trip was organised for our wonderful friend Patty, and all that she wanted to do for her birthday was climb a mountain. So, happy birthday Patty, we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

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