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Great Escapes Hiking Mt. Jinba
(Entered Nov. 17, 2009)
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Cool weather, crisp, clean air, colourful leaves; autumn is prime hiking season here in Japan with lots of great destinations to choose from. Unfortunately a few hundred thousand other people in Tokyo think so too, and will be joining you on your weekend of 'getting away from it all'. So it was with a bit of nervousness and hesitation that Kumi and I made plans to head to Mt. Jinba, which is located very close to the tourist mecca known as Mt. Takao. It was my feverent hope that all the other hikers on the train and bus with us were in fact headed to Takao, and had no idea that Mt. Jinba existed. And as luck would have it, most of them didn't. That's not to say that nobody else was around, but crowd levels were definitely at acceptable levels considering the amazing views of Mt. Fuji on offer.

hiking jinba mountain fuji view

To get to Mt. Jinba, head to Mt. Takao on the Keio or Chuo lines, but instead of getting off at Takaosanguchi station, get off at Takao station, go out the north exit, and then catch a West Tokyo Bus bound for Jinba kougen shita (陣馬高原下). From there you'll have to hike up a country road for a while before getting to the actual trail.

hiking jinba mountain red leaves

The trail Kumi and I wanted to follow goes up to the summit of Mt. Jinba (only 857m), then heads across the crests of several smaller mountains, and finishes up with the same Mt. Takao mentioned above. The estimated time for the hike was given as more than 7 hours, but due to a fairly late start, stopping a few times along the way to eat lunch, take pictures and admire scenery, we only managed to do about 3 quarters of the trail before it got too dark to hike safely.

hiking jinba mountain kumi on the trail

The trail might be long, but except for a few challenging sections at the beginning, this was one of the easiest hikes I've done.

hiking jinba mountain mike on top

You'll know you've reached the top of Mt. Jinba when you find a statue of a white horse, surrounded by a whole bunch of (ugly) snack shops, souvenir shops, washrooms, benches, tables, and of course, people. Actually I couldn't understand where they'd all come from as the hike up was pretty quiet. The photo below makes it look as if nothing else exists around it, but don't be deceived.
The view of Mt. Fuji makes it all worthwhile though (see the top photo).

hiking jinba mountain white horse statue

All the ramshackle buildings everywhere do a good job of getting in the way of your photographs, but one shop at least made a decent cup of coffee, even going as far as serving it in a porcelin cup and saucer.

hiking jinba mountain kumi coffee

We continued on, and the next few hours, although pleasant and with an easy trail to follow, was photographically unremarkable.
By the time we made it to Mt. Keishin (景信) the sun was starting to set, so we decided to wait there, watch the sun go down, then head down the mountain to the nearest bus stop.

hiking jinba mountain fuji framed by trees

The light was perfect, and best of all, we had the whole place to ourselves. Everyone else probably left in an effort not to be caught out on the mountain in the dark, which was smart thinking, but I had brought my headlight so I figured we'd be ok.

hiking jinba mountain kumi smiling

The sun sets over the 5 lakes region near Mt. Fuji.

hiking jinba mountain fuji sunset

With the sun down, temperatures also started falling, and I figured we had about 30 minutes of ambient light left to us. With the bus stop 3.6 kilometers away, we managed to get about halfway down before I had to use my headlight, and it performed admirably. Kumi kept a very fast pace for the first half of the way down, with me following behind. I think she was a bit more worried than me about hiking in the dark. I was actually pretty impressed at how fast she moved, I could only just keep up with her!

jinba hiking map

We made it down without incident or accident, caught the bus back to Takao station, treated ourselves to some food and drinks in an izakaya, then took the long train back to Tokyo. Overall a very enjoyable hike, maybe the best I've yet done in the Tokyo area!




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