On last week’s Tokyo Eye (NHK World, every Wednesday 9:30pm GMT) they featured some excellent alternative transport for getting around Tokyo, and in Akihabara you can rent street legal go karts to make your way around town. At the time of watching it was 2000¥ for an hour which they said was about enough time to drive to Ueno and back.
Unfortunately NHK World doesn’t have catch up, but you can watch some shows online. If you’re interested in anything at all Japanese it’s worth taking a look at their schedule (and a lot of the shows are interesting even if you’re not specifically into The Japanese aspect)
Mt. Fuji has just been granted World Heritage status, which is great and I’ll be writing about it again in the future; but it isn’t the only mountain worth visiting in Japan. Tonight’s (Wednesday June 19th 2013) Tokyo Eye was about a place that holds great memories for me – Mt. Takao (高尾山). We first heard about it on this same program before going to Tokyo on holiday in 2010, and I thought this is as good a reason as any to go through the old photos and put up a post.
This Tengu statue is one of many outside the shrines along the mountain paths of Takao-San
The mountain is famous for being home to many Tengu, guardians if you like from Japanese folklore, taking the shape of anthropomorphic birds of prey. You can read plenty about Tengu from around the Internet so I’ll leave you to follow the link for more details, but one thing I always find interesting about them is that the more human a Tengu looks, the higher ranking they are and the more powerful they are. That said, even ‘human’ Tengu are recognisable by their huge Pinocchio style noses.
Any gamers among you reading might also be familiar with the miserab;y unfair final boss from Dead or Alive 2:
To get to Mt. Takao just hop on a traing along the Keio New line at Shinjuku. This is a private line and therefore not covered by a normal ‘JR’ pass, but it’s only about 370yen (about £2.50) at time of writing and the trip takes around 1hr 20 according to Google Maps. There might be better ways to get there and it’s becomming more of a tourist spot in recent years, but even in 2010 we had no problem finding our way there.
It’s abundant in greenery and wildlife, and there are currently three trails that lead to the mountains summit. Along each walk there are a number of shrines, temples, statues and breathtaking views of Tokyo.
Tengu shaped Taiyaki, a speciality of Mt. Takao
Taiyaki is commonly sold by street vendors making them fresh, a bit like doughnuts at the British seaside.
Also half way up the trail we walked is a rest area where they freshly prepare exclusive Tengu shaped Taiyaki (and yes, they are delicious).
So if you want to get away from the city for a while, or try somewhere of the typical tourist track, hop on a train and make a day of the mountain. Other people have written some great detailed guides to the history of the shrines and temples so I’ll leave you with a couple of links and a gallery of Diana’s and my own photos from our walk. I’ll be sure to update this post when we go back there later in the year.
This year there was an event set up in Harajuku called Tokyo Fan Week. Despite the title it took place throughout February and offers a chance for tourists to take tours of lesser known areas, and shop staff wore badges saying it was OK to take photos of them (typically in Harajuku shops you’re not allowed to take photos, despite all the cool thing you might find).