Tengu & Mt. Takao

Yesterday, I took my brother to visit Mt. Takao, on the western edge of Tokyo. It was my brother's first time to visit the mountain, and I thought it might make a nice break from the extreme hustle-bustle and crowds of Tokyo.

The above picture shows the image of Tengu imprinted on an Ema, a wooden plaque on which worshippers write their wishes at shinto shrines.

Tengu (天狗, "heavenly dog") are a type of legendary creature found in Japanese folk religion and are also considered a type of Shinto god (kami) or yōkai (supernatural beings)). Although they take their name from a dog-like Chinese demon (Tiangou), the tengu were originally thought to take the forms of birds of prey, and they are traditionally depicted with both human and avian characteristics. The earliest tengu were pictured with beaks, but this feature has often been humanized as an unnaturally long nose, which today is widely considered the tengu's defining characteristic in the popular imagination.

I last visited Takao in October last year, when the weather was much cooler and the long-range visibility significantly better. However, the late afternoon sunlight broke through the trees and lit our way in a very pleasing manner.

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My brother at the shrine

My brother at the shrine

It was a very hot day, but the trees provided welcome shading from the intense heat of the sun. 

Suspension bridge across the valley

We finished off our 3-hour hike with a "2-hour-all-you-can-drink & all-you-can-eat" buffet near the summit. In typical Japanese fashion, no-one was taking advantage of the facilities, or being disorderly. I suppose I'm a bit of a cynic, but I can't see an all-you-can-drink/eat buffet lasting very long in the UK before it was shut down due to health and safety concerns, or drunk people destroying it. 

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I definitely recommend a trip to Mt. Takao, if you have time. It can be easily and cheaply accessed from central Tokyo, via the Keio line. It's a day trip which leaves one feeling completely removed from the neons and 24-life of the city.

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