There is no better way to experience the culture and geography of Japan than to hike up one of their sacred and treasured mountains. Japan is a country that beautifully contrasts bright city light and technological innovation with its untouched nature and treasured historical land. That makes this country unlike any other, and a gives me a real motivation to explore the culture here head on.
Mt. Takao is a mountain packed with history and is considered sacred land, a part of Meiji no Mori Takao Quasi-National Park. It is 599 meters tall and is the most frequented mountain in Tokyo among tourists. There are 8 hiking courses you can choose, each with a different scenery and ambience. Its unique aspects are the beer garden near the top of the mountain, which includes barbecue and savory bites overlooking the city of Tokyo in a splendid open air balcony. The contrast of the crisp green mountain life with the clean lines of the buildings in Tokyo is really a sight not to be missed. Here is the story of when I climbed Mt. Takao with my internship group members for an event called We Walk for Water.
It was my first week in Tokyo, so I was excited to be a part of something this early into my internship. I feel very passionate about the water crisis worldwide and am a member of the spring, a community of monthly givers to the Charity Water💧organization, so this event was perfect for me.
Luckily, I packed 4 empty 1 liter water bottles with me before my trip (don’t ask me why), so the night before, I excitedly filled up three bottles and got some beauty sleep before the big day 😌.
When I first met up with the group and started walking towards Mt. Takao⛰, I was bursting with energy⚡️ as I took in the view of the scenic area below the mountain. The stalls on the side of the main road were selling all kinds of local delicacies🍡, and little children ran around as adults prepared for the trek up. I was ready for the climb. 🙆🏻♀️
In about 3 minutes into walking uphill, I realized just how out of shape I was, and in about 10 minutes, I had to stop for a break and drink from my bottle😰. Having all that weight on my back didn’t help me either; it was like carrying a small child up a mountain, not something I was built for.
Getting to know each other was the fun part and the engaging conversations made me forget how tired I really was. We exchanged laughs😅, told our life stories🤫, and persevered through our aching muscles together💪🏻. We celebrated with a picture every time the little sign showed us the new elevation point, and I made sure to take in the scenery every step of the way.
In the big city of Tokyo, it is easy to get lost in its pace, and forget to appreciate the beautiful nature 🌱around me. In about 2 hours, the throbbing and aching pain in my legs was nulled by the beautiful view that waited for us at the top. The soothing and fresh mountain wind🌬blew all of my stress away, and in that moment I felt renewed.
We had some of the food🍦 from the stalls at the top, and I even visited the monkeys 🐒 at an exhibition!
The beer garden at the top is paired with a large scenic balcony and was a definite highlight of the climb. There is so much life that is celebrated on this mountain, from the animals, to the old trees, and even the honey found up here mountain has a history! I definitely learned a lot.
The brisk walk down was much easier and quicker than the walk up 🏃🏻♀️and in no time we were back at the starting point. I felt proud to have been a part of this event, because if I had just stayed home I would not have been able to experience the beauty and feeling of accomplishment afterwards.
1 out of 10 people don’t have access to drinking water. Those that have to walk miles and miles with a heavy jug of water back to their villages carry a burden that I have never had to even think about. In conclusion, this hike made me appreciate life more, and reminded me just how lucky I was. I highly recommend this hike to those looking for a healthy way to spend their weekend and experience the abundant nature and culture here in Japan.