Apr 22, 2008

Again, Enjoying Cherry Blossoms

April 13, we had another cherry blossom viewing party in a mountain, the ridge west to Mt. Takao.

Being given a three-star listing in the guidebook on Japan by French tire company Michelin last year and standing about 600 meters high above sea level, Mt. Takao, is gaining attracting more and more visitors. Mountain trails are well maintained than I visited this place last year. It has become easier to walk. This day unfortunately, it was drizzling from in the morning. However, we went out after deciding to believe the weather report telling that it would have stopped raining by around the noon. Although it is a good warm season already, in a mountain, it can be as cold as in winter when it rains. So, we need good outfit for rain and cold weather.

We took a bus JR Takao station, which left the station at 9:12 for Kobotoke bus stop. There are a lot of hikers waiting at the bus stop at Takao station. How can a bus really let this many people on? No problem! There are two buses at the same time.

About 20 to 30-minute bus ride on a narrow road in a valley took us to Kobotoke bus stop, the terminal. The rain was so slight that we almost didn't care.

From the bus stop, we walked for about an hour to reach the Kobotoke Pass. This trail begins as a paved road but it later in the middle point turns into a dirt pass in a wood, however, this tail is well trod down and comfortable to walk. Why is the trail so? Because, this trail is the old Koshu Kaido Highway. From ancient days, people have been traveling on this trail. An old way exhibits the presence in its silence. Unlike a road that has recently and artificially been constructed, this trail looks like a perfect component of the surrounding nature.

Leaving the Kobotoke Pass, we walked for about 30 minutes southeastward and reached Mt. Shiroyama, namely the mountain of a castle. In Japan, there are many shiroyama mountains. This name suggests that a fortress was built on the summit in the Age of Civil Wars. On the summit, there was a kiosk. In the open space in front of the kiosk, there were tables and benches for visitors. Cherry blossoms are in 50 to 60 percent of their florescence. It was a pity that thick fog hid the view of far and middle distance.

Summit of Mt. Shiroyama

We walked further eastward from Mt. Shiroyama. After 20 minutes or so, we got to the place called Icchodaira. Here, underbrush had neatly been trimmed and cherry trees were sparsely planted. There were benches and tables here and there. In other words, this place was quite suitable for a cherry blossom viewing party.

Yes, this was the place I had in mind for the party this time. Actually, I happened to see some people enjoying cherry blossom viewing party here when I hiked around here two years ago. Since then, I had been thinking of a plan to enjoy a cherry blossom viewing party here. Today, I could finally hold a party here with my hiking friends.

Each of us took sake and appetizers. Blossoms were not seen very clearly due to the fog and it was quite cold (probably around 5 degrees centigrade). but we had quite a nice time, anyway.

Around Icchodaira. If weather is all right, this place looks like this. (photo taken in April, 2006.)

Today's Sake
Tamanohikari reizoshu 450-ml carton (Tamanohikari Sake Brewing Co., Ltd.)
Since this sake is contained in a carton, it is convenient to bring it to a mountain.
Rice used: Yamadanishiki etc. harvested in Hyogo pref. (shubo and koji)
Nihonbare harvested in Kyoto pref. (kakemai)
Seimaibuai: 60% (shubo and koji)
55% (kakemai)

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