Mount Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture north of Tokyo is one of the most famous and most accessible mountains in Japan. There are four routes up to to either of the two peaks, two hiking trails, rope way and a cable car. I decided to try out the ropeway from the Tsutsujigaoka Station on about halfway up the mountain, arriving just in time for the cloudy and cold sunset. The mountain itself peaks at 877m and on clear days it is said that you can see the Tokyo skyline far to the south. Although not quite as clear when I visited, It was interesting to see the entire Kanto plain laid out in front of the mountain, flat as a tabletop!
There is an interesting story about Mount Tsukuba, to the north of Tokyo in Ibaraki prefecture. In the old days a diety descended to Earth and asked two mountains if he could spend the night on them. One of the mountains, a proud and perfect Mount Fuji, refused, while the other, a humble Mount Tsukuba accepted the visitor and provided food and water and shelter. Even to this day Mount Fuji is barren and cold like a moonscape whereas Mount Tsukuba is lush and rich in forest, springs and animals.
Driving up to the twin peaked Mount Tsukuba on a glorious autumn day you can almost sense the truth of this story. It is said that the two Gods that gave birth to the Japanese people are enshrined here, Izanagi-No-Mikoto on the top peak, and Izanami-No-Mikoto on the other peak.
A couple of weeks ago I took these photos on a drive from Tsukuba City to Mount Tsukuba. It was a sunny day with clear skies and and just had to take some photos of the driving in this part of Japan. The autumn leaves looks fantastic this time of the year! I passed the entrance to the Tsukuba University campus. “Tsukuba Dai” is probably one of the premier centers of Science education and research in Asia.
On a bright day like this the camera makes it look like the cars are standing still, which makes for boring photos. Luckily we were passed by a motorcyclist and a little tweaking of the camera settings produced a more interesting photograph. I believe it was the last weekend of the year with near perfect motorbiking weather!
Probably the biggest and most famous temple in Kawasaki city right on the south western border with Tokyo is the Kawasaki Daishi. It is a huge temple complex divided into several different parts, one of which is dedicated to traffic safety and cars! The temple building itself is a modernistic almost south east asian looking building in the middle of a huge parking lot where cars are staged in group depending on their order of taking part in the ceremony. Once an hour monks hold a ceremony praying for the safety and good fortune of the cars and their passengers and most people who have their cars blessed do so once a year. The ceremony itself costs 5000 yen but it is customary to give an additional donation to the temple when you return. Cars thus blessed gets a small bumper sticker that looks quite neat. You can see it on the temple’s home page. I was very lucky with the weather this day!