So, we also hiked a lot and ate a lot on the trip to Tokyo. That’s where I left off, and it’s where I’ll start!
Takao-san is a short distance away by train and with views of Fuji-san from the top. Takaosanguchi Station is the place to stop in order to start your hike. Full of beautiful scenery and many trails up the mountain, it’s a great way to spend the day. In the spring there are cherry blossoms, and in the autumn there are the gorgeous fall colours. In fact, the view of metropolis of Tokyo is enough to make the hike worthwhile. All of the trails start the base and then diverge from there. Some are of increasing difficulty and unpaved, while the main path is mostly paved. If you take the main trail, you can see first observation deck and Yakuoin Temple on the way to peak. There’s also a cable car to the first observation deck for a fee where there is a stamping station too.
So my boyfriend and I hiked all the way to the top on the main trail, which took about two hours with all of our stops to enjoy the sights. There’s food stalls on the way up too, so we ate some dango as a snack and brought onigiri with us as well. The view at the top of 599m mountain looked over more peaks; we even saw a faded outline of Fuji-san in the distance. There’s also a ton of cats wandering around at the peak. One tried to steal my onigiri but didn’t succeed, ha!
On our way down we took a different trail (number 3) which went around the winding mountain with a trail and away from all the others. This was a nature-filled excursion down the mountain in the afternoon with only sights of forests and streams to behold. This took a little longer because it wasn’t a direct path down, so it was around an hour without stopping until we reached the first observation deck. And the thing I loved most about Takao-san was how many elderly hikers had more stamina than us! They were chipper and enjoying their morning and greeted us as we passed by them. It’s nice to share a love of hiking.
Mitake-san was further away and we went on a fairly foggy day. To get to Mitake, take the train to JR Mitake Station and then catch the bus to the cable car station. We didn’t take the cable car; we opted to hike all the way up to the 929m summit. The rain halted during our hike, but the fog was immensely thick. The path up this mountain is paved as well, but it is a winding and long path through the densely forested mountain. In the fog, our hike was eerie as the cable car station appeared abandoned and we met only two other hikers on our trip. The fog made it difficult to see more than a few metres away. It was a scene out of a horror movie, except with the joyful, earthy smell of nature after a rainfall. We passed by many small shrines on the mountain’s hiking trail in front of unspoiled nature.
The top of Mitake-san also has magnificent views of Fuji and undulating peaks, but due to the clouds we couldn’t see anything from the top. At the peak there’s a shrine, and this comes after hundreds and hundreds of stairs. There’s a small village with inns and shops in order to buy souvenirs or a bowl of noodles after the long hike. My boyfriend and I ate a hot bowl of ramen because we were feeling cold, despite the warm summer rains. We also wanted to fill our belly before we hiked all the way back down. Continuing onward on the trail would lead to a rock garden and a waterfall, but because of the rain we decided not to go on the slippery path. It was still a breath-taking and gorgeous hike to the summit because of the many trees and animals found in the serene forested mountain.
Now, to move on to my eating habits, let’s talk about food! One of the highlights of Tokyo is the delicious food, of course! I love Japanese cuisine. I think it might only be second place to Thai cuisine in my books. We tried a lot of food while we were in Tokyo. There are so many delicious snacks we tried; it’s hard to remember exactly what. Even the station cities, the shops in the subways, had amazing food variety. We went to the Kitkat store in a station mall too, and bought red bean, sake, matcha, wasabi, pumpkin, cheesecake, strawberry… there’s more flavours there that we didn’t even try! Station malls also had delicious cream puffs. Out in the streets we ate more snacks, it’s surprising we didn’t gain any weight (probably due to all the walking). We ate taiyaki, takoyaki, ice cream, dango, mochi, waffles, okonomiyaki, imagawayaki, and crepes. Mmmmm… One time for lunch we went to Pancake Days and ate the cutest and fluffiest pancakes in the world!
For sushi, we went to two places. One was in Ikebukuro in a shopping mall called Katsu Midori sushi. It was excellent conveyor belt sushi and the chefs were so charming and friendly. You ordered, they shouted and cheered. It was a very welcoming and popular restaurant. In fact, it’s often an hour or so wait for dinner. The second place was in Tsukiji Market, the famous wholesale fish market in Tokyo. We went on a rainy day to view fish getting ready to be sold and eaten. The restaurant we went to took catches of the day and turned them into sushi or sashimi. That was some of the freshest seafood I ever had. Yum!
The best ramen we tried was also in Ikebukuro at a small local, cozy ramen shop called Kissui (創新麺庵 生粋). Amazing! We ended up going twice because it was so rich and delicious! In fact, I think the only food I had that I didn’t enjoy was natto when my boyfriend and I ate a traditional breakfast. Natto is fermented soybeans and it’s an acquired taste… Trust me, it’s difficult to enjoy the first time around.
All in all, Tokyo was an amazing trip. It stole my heart, and it filled my heart with so much wanderlust, and because Tokyo Metropolis is soooo large, there’s so much more exploring to be done. I can’t wait to return one day, I know I will. It’ll be another adventure, and maybe this time I can climb Fuji-san and visit a nearby hot spring paradise called Hakone. Adventure is out there!