Everyone in Japan would like to be able to say that they climbed Fuji-san. Yayoi mentioned to Kenji-san that she would like to see/climb Tsukuba-san so he arranged that Akio and Shigeko Okano would join us on November 13, 2012 and at about 8:30am Shigeko-san drove five of us to the tourist village at the base of the mountain.
The mountain itself is higher than Tokyo Skytree and is a bit of an anomaly in the Kanto plain. From Komatsuka where we live it is the only mountain we can routinely see. The city of Tsukuba is on the far side of the mountain relative to Komatsuka or the west side.
It took us about three hours to make the climb on a very rocky (sometimes slippery) pathway. At one spot we had to pass beneath a rock precariously jammed in a large crevasse that looked as though a nudge would send it toppling down on some hapless victim. But thanks to a Japanese hero by the name of Benkei (companion to Yoshitsune) living in the 1100's who hesitated seven times before passing under the rock making conditions safe for subsequent pedestrians.
At another area spotted people throwing small stones up at a mouth like opening created by two rocks about 3 meters above the ground. The existing pile of small stones prevented new stones from finding a resting spot. I decided to give it a try and my stone arced over the pile of stones and embedded itself in the throat of the structure. Then I am told that this means I will become rich. Well I am holding my breathe!
I taught Kenji-san two new English expressions. On a long ride children will ask their parents 'Are we there yet?'. I then suggested that a better expression is 'Are we having fun yet?', which was more appropriate to our circumstances as no one seemed to know how far the summit was so we might as well enjoy the journey.
We met many people including very young children on the climb. We asked one old man coming back down how much further? As part of his reply he told us he climbed up and back every day.
We decided even before reaching the summit that we would take the cable car train back down. Going down an incline is always more difficult than climbing and the rain would have made the rocks treacherously slippery.
We had a delicious lunch at the top provided by Kenji-san's and Akio-san's knapsacks carried laboriously up the mountain. Then we bought 'train' tickets to go down a beautiful autumn scenery route surrounded by Japanese maples conspicuously absent on the trek uphill.
Click on link to see photographs on Picasa.