Autumn Colors on Tokyo’s Mt. Oyama

Oyama-ViewAfter the day I had hiking Mt. Takao, I decided to try another hike on the outskirts of Tokyo. As I couldn’t find many that were easily accessible, I headed for Mt. Oyama in Kanagawa Prefecture, which is still technically in Tokyo. It sounded like a decent hike with views–even though it was a long hike, there was a cable car that went halfway up the mountain. I figured it was a good way to spend a Saturday.

I arrived at Isehara station on the Odakyu line around 10 am and immediately regretted my decision for the day. The line for the bus to take me to the base of Mt. Oyama wrapped around the station. Twice. It took an hour to get on the bus–fortunately they had buses coming every other minute, so the line moved quickly. Fortunately, that hour gave me time to chat with a young woman from Hokkaido who spoke decent English and just wanted to hike for the day. At least I wouldn’t hike alone in the crowd.

First view of the hills around Oyama
First view of the hills around Oyama

We hadn’t planned on taking the cable car up the mountain, which was a wise decision as the line was again about an hour long. The hike was much more scenic with the foliage–much better timing than my hike up Mt. Takao.

One of the smaller shrines on the hike
One of the smaller shrines on the hike

There were a few temples and shrines along the main trail to the summit–two of the temples were larger and drew more tourists (they’re also the two stops on the cable car).

Stairs lined with Buddhas to Oyama Temple
Stairs lined with Buddhas to Oyama Temple

By the time we reached the second temple, my companion decided to head home. I still don’t understand the purpose of hiking that far and not reaching the summit. Although I must admit, the rest of the hike was much more intense than the first half (or maybe it was because I was already a little tired from standing on line for the bus).

View of Oyama Temple
View of Oyama Temple

Before setting off on the second half of the trek, hikers are supposed to take paper prayer and ring the bell before passing through the gate and up the stairs. Those are the last real stairs I remember seeing. The rest of the trail is rocks and tree roots–some of them can be used like stairs though.

Where'd the stairs go?
Where’d the stairs go?

It took a little more than three hours to reach the 1,252-meter (4,108 ft) summit of Mt. Oyama, at which time I drank a can of beer and had a warm bowl of soba noodle soup. Along the way there were plenty of stops for views of Yokohama–the clear skies made from some great views.

The view out over Yokohama
The view out over Yokohama

There wasn’t much at the summit other than the shack selling some food and small, uninteresting temple. I forgot which trail I walked up and had to ask around to be sure that I was taking a trail that would lead me back to where I started. It took another hour to get back to the larger temple and the cable car, where I waited for a very small cable car to pack as many people on board before heading to the base of the mountain in a fraction of the time it’d take to hike.

The day started out a bit warm and I put my jacket in my backpack. The warmth, coupled with some more difficult than expected hiking caused me to sweat quite a bit. However, as I climbed higher and later into the day, it grew rather cold–even colder when compounded with the sweat.

The line for the cable car ran up the stairs to Oyama Afuri Shrine
The line for the cable car ran up the stairs to Oyama Afuri Shrine

The cold and sweat was much worse as I waited an hour for the cable car to take me the rest of the way down the mountain (it was starting to get dark and I was almost out of energy). It was even worse when I got back to the town and realized that the line to get back on the bus was backed into the town and I had to wait another hour. I was just happy I didn’t have to wait on line to get on the train home.oyama-cablecar

It wasn’t the most difficult hike I’ve taken, but it was pretty close. Altitude is the only thing that Mt. Oyama doesn’t have. Despite the lack of altitude, it is a steep hike up to the summit. The hike down, and the three hours worth of standing in line, wore out my legs–my calves were sore enough to keep me home the next day. Still, it was a worthwhile hike.

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