Hello, dear readers:)
We’ve all been really, really MIA for a long time. There is no excuse, except for life. For my part, I was without a computer of my own from February until last week, and not actually doing anything fitness-related, aside from walking to and from my job.
To be honest, I’ve been feeling like I might be ‘better’ lately, but haven’t had a lot of chances to test out that theory, since I can’t run in this heat, and haven’t had time to find myself a gym. On top of this, I ran into another issue with running: no trails. No grass or parks, just miles and miles of cement around my house. Cement and narrow streets, which are absolutely NOT conducive to running while wearing headphones. And I need music to run. I tried to do that here, on the streets around my house, and learned that running narrow streets with headphones amounts to *almost* getting hit by cars many, many times. Once I can figure out which streets go which way (since most are one-way in my residential area), it might be a safer bet. But I do miss running through trees and fields.
I’ve also been having a bit of an internal battle lately, since I feel better and WANT to do more, fitness-wise, but need to find the time. As I said, it’s been really hot here lately, so I can’t work out mid-day as I’d like. I also don’t have breaks from work, so I can’t run ‘in the off time’. So I either have to work out in the mornings, or in the evenings, when it’s cooler. I’d made the decision earlier to start dragging my ass out of bed to attempt to do some morning yoga, but haven’t managed to follow through with that yet.
This is the first week in a LONG time that it’s been below 30 c (90 f), and if it would stay that way, I might be in luck. But I won’t hold my breath. So when the option to climb Mt. Fuji came up, I jumped at it, even though I was a bit scared.
As it turned out, bad weather forced us to NOT take on that endeavour. So yesterday, we climbed Mount Takao, which is located to the east of Tokyo.
Mount Takao is about 599 meters above sea level, while Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan, is over 3,000. It’s quite a difference. You actually get dropped off by the bus HALFWAY up Fuji, which is where you would begin your hike. So at 1,500, you start to climb.
I’d said ‘yes’ to climbing Fuji when it was brought up because it IS something you should do, if you’re here during the right season (June-August is the only time people are allowed up) and can handle it. We all know I’ve been totally shitty for the past year, but as I felt like I was finally coming out of it and on my way back to doing normal things again, I thought I would be stubborn enough to push through. We even went out and bought me some real hiking boots, since the terrain gets pretty rocky. And head-lamps, because we were planning to do the overnight climb, to arrive for the sunset. I’m already accustomed to (and flourish while) running at sub-zero temperatures, so I already had all of the necessary clothing for a climb that would get progressively colder the further up we went.
But when the weather forecast calls for rain and wind, you stay the hell away from Fuji-san. So our friend we had planned to go with had a plan B: Let’s go to Mount Takao instead, because then we can still climb a mountain.
We were supposed to go to Takao to visit the beer garden last month with friends, but that got cancelled due to bad weather, which is a pretty normal reason to cancel things in Tokyo, it seems. So we were a bit upset. I really got excited when I saw you could hike and there was a cool suspension bridge on one of the trails. I, of course, instantly thought ‘pictures’.
Mount Takao, when spoken of by people we know here, is the ‘fun version of Fuji’, and a LOT easier. There are a lot of food stands along the way and multiple trails you can take to go up, and sites to visit along the way. There’s even a beer garden with a view. We really wanted to visit the shrines, temples and suspension bridge, and we managed to see all of them. By the time we came back down, the beer garden and some of the food stands had closed. Ah, well. Next time.
The climb itself was pretty steep, but mostly paved and pretty easy, truth be told. For someone who hasn’t done anything more than walking for the past few months, it was a bit difficult at times, but overall relatively easy, and I imagine it was SUPER easy when compared to climbing Mt Fuji (instead). I effectively walked uphill for 3 hours. I’m sore today, but I should be, since I haven’t done anything other than go to work for the past 6 months, and all of that walking is with a 0″ incline.
I was actually pretty afraid of doing the Fuji climb, because I know that I’m stubborn, but was afraid I wouldn’t make it and wouldn’t stand a chance. Apparently there is ONE relatively easy way up (and 3 or 4 that are not so easy), and you have to take another way down, so if I’d had to stop along the way and couldn’t make it, I wasn’t sure what would happen. I also, of course, planned to bring the Mamiya, so I knew we’d be carrying a LOT, what with food, many liters of water, etc. It was the reason I decided NOT to bring the D80, also, because to carry both of them up would be overkill. It’s funny, which camera I choose. I brought the babyNi instead.
There were a few parts climbing Takao that were hard for me, but most involved narrow paths near a steep downward drop, during the descent. On the way up, all that bothered me were my knees, which is normal anyway. For anyone NOT having balance or vertigo issues, it would be a cakewalk. Mark and Geb were definitely laughing at me, even though my nails were digging into Mark’s skin for a good 45 minutes or so.
We could have actually gone higher, as there is a taller mountain nearby that we could easily get to from the summit by going across a pass or two, but we were happy to finish this one around noon, have a beer (or sake, if you’re me) at the Takao summit, and then make our way back down, slightly buzzed. That’s what you’re supposed to do when you take on a dangerous activity, right?
The train ride out was only Y370, and the food and drinks were pretty reasonably priced. We’d heard that the food just gets more expensive (and shittier) the further up Fuji you go, and had expected to blow about Y20,000 ($200) just on our trip there. So Takao is a far more affordable option, and a lot easier for people who may not have climbed a mountain before (like me).
The ‘bad’ weather absolutely worked in our favour, was lovely and made for some excellent photos. I haven’t seen the film yet, but the digital ones turned out so well, I have no fear that the film will be great as well. We went up on a Tuesday, which is a work day for most people. It was relatively empty and we weren’t too bothered by the people going up at the same time as us. I imagine if it had been a Saturday, that it would have been crowded. Added to this, whenever Japanese people hear the word ‘rain’, it seems they tend to cancel all of their plans. So the rain forecast might have thinned the crowd as well. Totally fine for us!
You can see the photos I added to Flickr HERE, although I took many more that are on my Facebook page. And more that are still to come when I get them processed at Bic Camera.
But hooray, I climbed a mountain! Now I definitely think I can get back to running, or yoga, or anything… once the weather allows it.
If you ever decide to visit Tokyo and can’t climb Mt Fuji (or don’t want to take it on), Mt Takao is a really nice climb! More of a hike, actually, and totally worth it.