On Saturday, I was the guest of the Toyota Family who took the new ALT and myself hiking on Mt. Tsukuba. Tsukuba-san is our local mountain of fame and most people in the area have climed it at least once. And since I have never hiked it and Karem sensei (new ALT from London) is new to the area, it was a honor and a privlidge to be in the company of such wonderful people for the day.
Toyota -sensei is one of my new bosses. He is the man at the Yachiyo-city Board of Education who has to deal with the ALTs. He is extremely friendly and is pretty good at Engligh too (which is great because Darwin Sensei (the old ALT) is no longer around to translate).
We met at 10am in Yachiyo and by 11am we were on our way up the mountain. The hike is only supposed to take about 4o minutes. But since we stopted to have a snack (some kind of traditional japanese gelatenous noodle dish... not too bad) and Toyota-sensei's daughter was the slowest of the group (thank god I wasn't the slowest) we reached the top in a little over an hour.
Along the ascent there are famed rocks, boulders and shrines to take in.
These 7 boulders are said to have fallen into this placement after a god threw them around.
You would think, that after praying to many shrines like this during the past year in Japan... I would have recieved 25 life partners by now.
Dai-Butsu. These rokes are supposed to represent a sitting Buddha. Do you see him?
The Frog (which is the mascot of Mt. Tsukuba as well as Tsukuba Science City). It is said that if you can throw a rock in his mouth and it doesn't fall out, you will have good luck. Also... the frogs found around Mt. Tsukuba are special (or wierd depending on how you look at it) because they have 4 fingers and 6 toes.
Once at the top, we took in the sights near the shrine then headed over to have our lunch, by the cable car. Mrs. Toyota had prepared us bento lunches with traditional rice balls, tea sandwiches, fresh veggies and little hors'devors (like green beans wrapted in bacon). And while we ate, the daughter and I enjoyed coke-floats while looking at the view from our rotating building where we had lunch. PS I have serious hat hair! (see above)
The weather was overcast, with a predition of rain in the afternoon. Luckily, because of the poor weather, the Mountain was not as crowded as usual. However, the down side being that landmarks like Tokyo Tower, Mt. Fiji and the ocean were not visible.
Instead of hiking back down, we were treated to a rope-way car ride... which only takes 6 minutes! ( I'll have to remember that next time someome wants to climb this Mt. ... So, we can take the rope way in 6 minutes or climb for an hour... HMmmmmm, let me think about that for a second).
Eventhough, one can ascend Mt. Tsukuba easily by Rope-way or cable car... there is still an amount of hiking one must do to along the ridge to get from the restaurants to the shrine and back to the cablecar or ropeway. I would like to point out the young woman on your right, who felt the need to look so cute for her date that she chose to wear a jean miniskirt and pointed pumps. Eventhough she was not the only fashion victim on the mountain... she is the only one I canptured on film. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING???? YOU ARE ON A MOUNTAIN FOR CHRIST SAKES!
After our trip on the ropeway and eating some rasberry softcream, we visited the local shrine. We paid our respects, got out fortunes and were on our way home in no time. Luckily, this was our last stop for the day because no less then 30 seconds after we got into the car terenchal down pour occurred! The ride back to Yachiyo was a quite one as everyone was exausted from the day. Once I got home, I passed out for a couple hours, then headed to the public baths for a relaxing soak in the mineral induced water. Thank God for Yachiyo's nice clean bath house. Once you get over the fact that there are a bunch of naked japanese women around.. it's not that bad.
Till next time ... Love Peace and six toed frogs! Ja NE!!
PS I promise to post better pictures of my hike when I get around a proper scanner. aka sometime next week.