After a fantastic lunch at Ukai Toriyama, Clare, Emma and I walked up Mt. Takao. Well, part of the way. We took the chair lift halfway up (there's also a cable car) and probably saved ourselves an hour.
As we approached the lift station we realized that most people were finishing up for the day, which worked out great for us, as we only had to queue for about 15 min.
Usually I'm afraid of heights but the wooden slats and chain link fence that ran between the treetops and my dangling feet made me feel safe. (That's Emma and Clare in the seat in front of me.)
From where we got off, it was less than an hour's walk up to the summit. Along the way we saw this big tree. Those are Shinto prayer ropes around the trunk (shimenawa, used to mark spots of spiritual significance, like the shrine up ahead).
We still had quite a bit of company on the trail
Rest stop sustenance (not for us though, we were still stuffed from lunch)
more snacks (one day I will try these skewered mochi balls)
Tengu statue outside the Yakuo-in temple, Mt. Takao's "spiritual home and prayer place" near the summit dedicated to the Buddha of Medicine, Yakushi Nyorai. A Tengu, this website explains, is a "long-nosed demon-like being known to dwell on sacred mountains." Apparently they serve as messengers for various deities and buddhas, chastise evildoers and protect the good. They are often depicted holding a Japanese fan, or uchiwa, which they use to "sweep away misfortune." I read somewhere else that Tengu are gods of mischief, and patrons of the martial arts. Hmm...
I'd like to return to Takao-san on a day where the Buddhist monks are fire-walking or sitting beneath waterfalls reciting mantras and sutras as part of their ascetic training.
Carving on outer temple wall
Resting at the top
As we made our way back down we passed this fine young couple and their dog. In a sling.
You don't see a lot of big dogs in Japan, or at least I haven't, but those I do see are treated like, well, dogs (not babies to be coddled like that little Chihuahua in a sling!)