Day 5 – 02.04: They climbed. Oh yes, they did.

The new day dawned and I woke up at some point, seeing the Freeman’s Mind episode that I attempted to watch before I went to sleep still playing, looping for some reason. I got up and started fiddling with my computer, mainly writing the diary entry for the previous day – alcohol, for some peculiar reason, had stopped me from working on it the night prior.

Brendan was suffering from a hangover, so what would be better than going to the Mt. Tsukuba (筑波山) – special for it’s twin peaks, Nantai (男体山) and Nyotai (女体山) – eh? So we left for the mountain.

Due to not really being used to driving on the left side of the road, Brendan was a bit cautious in his driving, but that didn’t really slow down our journey to reach the peak. Originally I had just thought about taking the cable car up due to, well, neither of us being exactly the experienced or well-in-shape type, but at the point where Brendan seemed to be fine with the idea of climbing, I was too.

We arrived to the little town to the south of the mountain, Miyawaki (宮脇), after tons of zigzagging in the horrifying mountain roads. Eventually we parked and left most of our stuff in the car – thankfully – before moving on.

After walking a bit, it was agreed that lunch should be eaten before going anywhere. We looked around a little bit and found a restaurant at the back of a little gift shop – it made me think of that one Korean place that people pretty much always went to after the Japanese language exchange in the ILAC library, in Dublin. We got ourselves some ramen, ate it, paid it, and started moving towards the starting point of the trail up the mountain.

On our way to the beginning of the path, we went through the amazing looking Shinto shrine’s, Mt. Tsukuba Shrine’s (筑波山神社), yard. Pictures were taken – of course – before moving on.

We… I had decided that we should go through the most direct route, through the Miyukigahara course (御幸ヶ原コース). It started out quite easy, but after fifteen or so minutes, we decided to have a break. Oh, and before our first stop, we met a bunch of people, almost all of whom exchanged greetings with us – this, seemingly, is a thing in Japan. I like it. We got off our lazy bums and went onwards and upwards.

We must’ve looked absolutely pathetic as we went on; we were just sweating our heads off, moving upwards slower and slower as the climbing become more and more difficult. During our ascent, we noticed that beside us, no one went up – everyone was coming down; This only made confirmed our suspicions on us just being crazy.

At some point, we reached the halfway point. This was the best of the stops we made due to it having fresh mountain water available. It was probably the best water I have had thus far in Japan; It was mainly due to the fact that we… I had just run out water some time ago. After a long pause, we headed upwards once more.

More people passes us by as we climbed, exchanging greetings and occasionally asking if we were fine and then cheering us on. It was nice to receive that encouragement. Eventually, we reached another resting place where we met a particularly talkative man.

This man saw that we were just really, really tired, and offered us a seat; we took it. He then started talking to us, sometimes using English to help get the message through. He showed us a picture of a beautiful flower, katakuri, and told us that it could be seen on the mountain – unfortunately I never found one to take a picture of. He also mentioned that we just had a hundred meters to go. Encouraged by this, we continued on.

At this point, there had been a lot of man made wooden steps, so we knew that we were close – that, and we occasionally heard the cable car. Soon enough we saw a building and “man’d” our way up.

Closing in on the top

Closing in on the top

At the summit, there were some workers there to welcome us to the top. They had a bunch of tea with them, and after a few attempts to make us understand, they told us (with a phone in hand) that it was barley tea – I kept hearing the words “barley tea” several times where ever we went in the vicinity of the cable car.

After having some rest and looking at the map and our surroundings, I wanted to go to the top properly; I wanted to go to the top of Mt. Nyotai (女体山), up to 877 meters. I talked Brendan over and we continued on.

Upon reaching the highest point, we found ourselves at an ancient temple – the temple of Izanami no Mikoto (伊邪那美命), the Goddess of creation and death (I am ashamed that I didn’t know this much before I went there). Pictures were taken and then we hurried back to get to the last cable car.

After all of this, we headed back to Shimotsuma (下妻) and went for some McDonalds before I moved on to Shimodate (下館), Oyama (小山) and finally to Nishi-Nasuno (西那須野) where I had gotten a hotel just an hour and a half before arrival my arrival – an arrival that I expected to be far later.

I got to the hotel, got the internet going, ended up doing way too much research on domain registration and missed what I was supposed to do – this.

This is where the fifth day ended.

Withdrew: 0,000

Spent: 10,550

Remaining cash: 14,230

No money was lost at this time (read: didn’t count the money like he was supposed to).

Breakdown:

Tsukuba soba – 0,950

VM – 0,340 x2

Cable car down – 0,580

McDonalds – 0,802

Kanto line to 下館 – 0,620

Hotel Select Inn – 6,300

Konbini – 0,958

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