On Top of Mount Tsukuba

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After my visit to the great Buddha statue Ushiku Daibutsu, I headed to Mount Tsukuba, a nearby mountain famous for its double peaks.

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As the mountain is considered sacred in the Shinto tradition, a huge torii gate marks the entrance.

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The “male” peak (Nantai) can be accessed by cable car while the “female” peak (Nyotai) is reached by ropeway. The ropeway station is higher than the cable car station, however, and driving on a very curvy uphill road is necessary to reach it. A local told us that some people tried to go up the road that morning but had to go back because of the snow. We decided to check out ourselves and found out that the snow had mostly melted. Still, I thought the road was quite scary, with a lot of hairpin curves.

Reaching the station, the first thing we saw was an old weird looking amusement park built on the mountain. It was closed on that day, but I don’t know if it’s usually open… I can’t find anything about it online. There was a huge frog at the top (the frog is kind of an official emblem for Tsukuba, and most souvenirs sold are frog-related) and a really really creepy one near the entrance. We were running late for the last ropeway ride, so we couldn’t go nearby, but even from afar it was very creepy.

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Inside the station were a restaurant and a souvenir shop. Everything looked kind of old, and since there was nobody except us it also looked a bit sad. I guess it becomes more lively on weekends !

We got on the ropeway and quickly reached the top. Although it was sunny everywhere, the mountain was somehow wrapped in clouds, so the view became more and more limited as we were going higher.

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At the top station was another restaurant / souvenir shop even sadder than the previous one. From there a path led to the actual top. The path was steep and there was snow, but one side of the path had been cleaned so it was fairly easy.

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Reaching the top area, however, everything was covered in snow. There is a small temple at the top, and it can be reached by climbing “stairs” made of rocks, but those were not safe at all, as you can see from the pictures.

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From there we could see what seemed to be the hiking trail, and it looked very steep, icy and dangerous. There were actually people hiking, and I’ve read that it is a relatively easy climb, but the weather conditions were definitely not optimal !

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Finally reaching the top, we couldn’t see anything because of the clouds. I think this made the whole thing even scarier, as I really felt like I was standing on a icy rock on the edge of a cliff, with some small wooden fence between me and a certain death. I really started feeling uneasy at this point and went back down right away.

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This is definitely not the safest temple I visited !

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Usually, the other peak can be reached from there, but we didn’t have enough time, so we went down.

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When driving down the mountain road, we saw a spectacular sunset. And we headed back to Tokyo !

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