Hiking Mt. Oyama

In preparation for my summer goal of conquering Mt. Fuji, I been trying to squeeze in as much weekend hiking, as the weather could possibly allow. Let’s just say, I want to do a lot of “practice hike” before I go for the big one.

Back home if you tell your friends that you consider climbing mountains as a hobby, they will look at you with admiration; make you feel that you are one cool and tough gal. Here in Japan, if you tell your colleagues that you went hiking last weekend, they will just look at you like you just told them that you had bento for lunch.

Hiking in Japan is a lifestyle. It is normal to see kids or elderly taking the same trail and oftentimes, I see myself having less stamina compare to them. Using the same reasoning, if you want quiet time and nature all by yourself, you need to choose carefully where to hike or else you will be going together with teenagers who choose to climb the mountain with a portable radio tuned to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way.

Mt. Oyama at Isehara, Kanagawa was my chosen destination, on the hope that a less popular mountain will attract lesser number of people. With a total height of 1,252 meters, Mt. Oyama is consider as a holy mountain, included on the list of Kanagawa-ken’s 50 most scenic spot and part of the Tanazawa-Oyama Quasi National Park.

Here is a series of photo and few stories about my day hike. How I wish that the actual hiking is as easy as creating this blog post.

From the bus stop to the start of the trail, first you need to pass by series of stairs along with several souvenir shops that sells spinning tops and tofu restaurants. Both products are well-known local specialty, so you might be encouraged to buy or try one.

Since my past hikes at Mt. Takao and Mt. Mitake involves riding a cable car half way thru, this time around I completely ignore the cable car and was determined to climb all the way. After all, the main purpose of this is to push myself and see how far my legs can take me.

Now, I was at the official start of the trail. I can see that there were only about 2 to 3 people in front of me.  The surrounding greenery and splashes at the nearby waterfalls were proof that I made the right decision of ignoring the crowded cable car.

Few jizo statues and small wooden temples along the way, I feel relaxed and confident that I can reach the top.

After series of stone steps with several slippery parts, I started to feel the strain on my legs but still with enough energy and will power to push.

Almost 1 hour walking, I saw a high, pave stairs and a glimpse of a pagoda style roof. I climbed the stairs while taking photographs of the small statue of the Buddhist temple guards and finally make my first stop at Oyama Temple (Oyama-dera).

After resting for 5 minutes, I resume back to hiking. I was not surprise anymore when I saw another set of stone-covered path. This part is steep and really tiring; to make matters worst the hiking trail is exactly parallel to the cable car route. I can see the car passing me by and started to question myself of the earlier decision I made.

I finally reached the location of Afuri Jinja Shimosa. I was thinking of continuing to reach the peak by lunch time, but seeing the brand new, shiny, marble stairways made me silently declare that I officially hate stairs. If I see another stairs, I might go crazy.

I stopped for a while and ate ramen at one of the few shops located nearby the shrine. After a quick 10 minutes slurping, I pushed myself to climb the stairs.

Parts of Afuri Jinja Shimosa are under-renovation and the whole complex seems to be newly built. If it were a sunny day, I heard that the shrine elevation offers a good vantage point to see Mt. Fuji and Sagami Bay, just look at the statue of the children pointing directly to where you are supposed to see Fuji-san.

I believe the presence of shrines and temples on most mountains are good enough encouragement even for non-hikers to start going outdoors. Personally, it was the first reason why I started doing day hikes.

Afuri Jinja Shimosa is the half-way point of the trail, still a long way to go.

I went nuts for a few minutes, started to laugh all by myself which attracted the attention of few hikers. This is because of one reason- seeing more stairs.

I consider the succeeding trail as the hardest part of the hike. The rocks along the path appeared to be bigger and bigger. I started to attack the trail as if I was solving a puzzle, Should I step on this stone or maybe the other one? I was studying my every footing, I have to, I was hiking all by myself.

Climb, climb, climb some more.

The light rain created a fog, making some portion of the trail less visible. But the combination of rain and fog also makes the whole scenery even more beautiful.

I have no rain gear, so I started to pray silently that it will not continue to shower.

Countless of Konichiwa greetings and climbing stairs after stairs, I finally reached the peak of Mt. Oyama. Seeing the torii gate of Oyama Afuri Jinja is comparable to the yellow, finish line marker of a track and field.

So what did I do at the peak of Mt. Oyama? I ate an egg sandwich.

After few minutes savoring every glorious moment of reaching the peak, I started to descend by taking the same route. I find it easier to go up than to go down, I guess mainly because I am always afraid to slip. Taking the same precautionary measures and even finding the initiative to remove some unwanted small stones along the trail as my way of showing concern for the other hikers, I completed hiking Mt. Oyama.

For the next 3 days, I can barely walk and I still hate stairs.

51 thoughts on “Hiking Mt. Oyama

    • thanks :)

      true. Oyama is quite beautiful particularly Oyama-dera area.
      not to far from Tokyo or Yokohama, reachable by Odakyu-Odawara Express from Shinjuku or Ebina.
      apart from the hiking, it’s nice to see the countryside as well :)

  1. Yay. You did it even though you hate stairs but it’s supposedly good for you. Anyway, I hate stairs too. Hahaha. I love your photos and all that mists make it look even more amazing.

  2. i climbed mt fuji 2 years back – halfway though, had to catch the bus back to shinjuku (which i missed). keep up your hiking! the summit of mountains are definitely the icing on the cake!

  3. Stunning photos, as always! I love the misty atmosphere.

    I love hiking, and I love walking up mountains, but … I loathe stairs. My knees start crumpling when I merely look at photos of stairs.

    I have a question. Those young kids at the top of the mountain (the boy in the red T-shirt and the girl with the cap): did they actually hike all the way up, or did they take the cable car?! Don’t you just hate it when you’re struggling bravely up a mountain, feeling noble, and a young child comes hopping-skipping-jumping past you?! Darn kid!

    • thanks Rurousha!

      i didn’t see the kids at the start of the trail, possibly they use the cable car but even so they have so much energy that they are “hopping-skipping-jumping” as you mentioned, as if they are just playing in the park!

      how about the obaasan (grandmother) and ojiisan (granfather)? so much energy and stamina, they passed me by plenty of times! :)

  4. This blog entry is really beautiful. Thanks for sharing all of these photos! It makes me really sad I didn’t bring my DSLR to Shanghai! :P If I wasn’t concerned about the weight of my luggage and hauling a lot of stuff around, I would have brought it.

  5. I climbed Mt. Fuji in 2010. It’s not that difficult.
    I didn’t do any preparation like you (e.g. climbing another mountain), but of course you need to be prepared and know what you need to bring with you and what to expect! :)
    And, most importantly, you need a LOT OF LUCK! I climbed it during a typhoon …. not something I’d recommend, but we didn’t have a choice.
    If it’s cloudy / rainy, you won’t be able to see the great sunrise (of course I couldn’t either).
    If a thunderstorm suddenly approaches you usually have to give up at that point.

    Good luck and lots of fun!! :)

    • thank you for the tip and well wishes!
      planning to climb Fuji-san this coming August.i hope the weather will be good :)

    • thank you :)
      yup, those stairs. i almost cry.
      the temples are beautiful and the self-satisfaction of accomplishing something feels awesome!

  6. Someday I’ll get proper hiking equipment–as I say every summer, then hike it in trainers and a t-shirt anyhow. Great photos!

    • agree with you there Leah. i been planning for a long time now to complete my hiking stuff.
      don’t you find hiking gear/equipment in Japan quite expensive?

      thanks :)

  7. Oh the ランチパック are so convenient! The peanut butter are the best ones…

    • yeah, convenient and delicious!
      thanks for the tip! i always switch between tuna, egg and ham. peanut butter? wow, i need to run to 7/11 and try one!

  8. WOW! The one place in the world where I need to go before I die! The fog in the photos looks fantastic! Such beautiful photos! :D so jealous!

  9. I love this post! Makes me want to get to Japan so much! Congrats on making it up the mountain – I love how there are stops along the way to eat ramen :) May Peace Prevail on Earth – what a nice thing to read after an uphill climb!! Great post!

  10. Pingback: Mt Ōyama « travel blog

  11. beautiful pictures! I was on Mt.Oyama on perhaps the same day… in July. It was foggy/cloudy enough so it wasn’t hot. In your last picture, I sat and ate lunch with my family where those people sat and ate their lunch! (lol)

    • maybe we were there on the same day! :)
      must be nice to hike together with your family. i can’t resist but to peek on other people’s food, they were very well-prepared, looks fresh and tasty, not sure how they manage to bring most of them to the mountain :)

    • hi Eddie,

      Mt.Takao is good for 1st time hike. It is, if not the most popular daytime hike destination away from the city, so don’t be surprised if you encounter so many people particularly during weekends.
      I really like Mt.Oyama, though more challenging compare to Takao but at least you are rewarded with peace and quiet on some parts of the trail.
      Planning any hike soon? Enjoy :)

    • thank you Sandy!
      not sure about the time (2 hours or so) but it sure feels like forever particularly the climb up..

  12. UPDATE – I conquered Fuji yesterday! Made it to the summit in exactly 5 hours and back down to the 5th station in 2 hours and 50 minutes! It was a brutal climb, but a life-changing experience. I am so glad I did it. How about you?

    • wow, that’s impressive! how I wish i can say that i was as fast as you are particularly going down :)
      i completed Mt. Fuji last weekend, preparing my blog post about it now!

      Congratulations Eddie :)

  13. Not sure the statue of the kid is pointing at fuji, as fuji would be in the opposite direction obscured by the moutain behind them.
    also at the point where you saw jizos by wooden temples the path forks left and right, left is designated rather bluntly as ‘wonens path’ and right, up the stairs ‘mens path’ i have climbed both and found both to take just as long but the mens path has more rough step formation with steeper climbs, if you climb again i’d recommend taking the mens path back down, other than a small section of it the constant steps makes it a little easier.

    It amazes me how many young children climb to the top with their parents, i spent a while while descending talking with a woman who was walking down with her absolutely adorable daughter Mariko, just 7 years old but kitted out fully in pink and purple hiking gear, tackling steps almost as big as herself. Certainly explains why very few japanese are overweight!

    • hi dan,
      thanks for the info.
      i agree with your observation and how cute they are right? you described it very well, kids wearing pink hiking gear and enjoying every steps.

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