July 1, 2008

Since it’s not that large of a city, there are several singular, unique places that are unambiguously described by the name ” ‘Tsukuba’ + the term for that place”. Let’s make some examples: The one significant mountain here is called “Tsukuba san” and hosts the shrine “Tsukuba san jinja”. On your way to the mountain, you’re passing “Tsukuba University”, and come across the “Tsukuba traffic light”. (OK, ok, the last one was a joke. And the university was a bad example, too, since a) there does exist a second one here, and b) it’s really called “University of Tsukuba”, thus not following above name convention. So, sue me! ^_^ But there are lots of other examples.)

Anyway, I finally made it to Tsukuba-san. To be exact, today’s story is about my first time (the “sane” version), while the second time was with people from my lab, resulting in a kinda “insane” track … but more about this in the next entry (or maybe the one thereafter, to ensure some variety in this blog). There are two usual ways up, one is by cable car, the other by ropeway. But still being young and athletic ;-), we chose neither, but started near the base of the cable car, at Tsukuba Jinja, hiked all the way to the top, then down to the ropeway base. About 4 hours of pure hiking time, altogether, rewarded with some very nice views of the surrounding area. The normal view that unfolds before your eyes from the top of Japanese mountains (that are worth hiking) reveals several smaller mountains, densely surrounded by houses which look like water flowing around islands – take a look at this picture taken at Daimonji mountain in Kyoto, at dusk and in the night. Tsukuba, however, being rather rural, presents a less populated sight, as you can see for yourself especially in the two panorama pics below.

Being not only a mountain but also a sightseeing place, the (main) summit features several small restaurants and souvenier shops, with lots of junk, but also some interesting food. The 8th picture presents a few examples: Roasted dumplings (e.g., with pumpkin flavor), noodles that are used as present for people at home/at work, for when you return from the trip, then some crazy stuff mostly made of sugar, and finally Tofu ice cream: Made from soy milk, tasting different than the one in Kyoto, but also worth trying it.

We used the chance and ate a kind of udon noodles, called “Tsukuba udon” (you recognize the pattern? 😉 ). At such a place, you expect too expensive food of bad quality, right? Well, the noodles were maybe a little bit more pricy than elsewhere in Tsukuba, but tasted surprisingly good. Really good, actually. Maybe not worth going all the way up just for the noodled, but if you’re already there, don’t miss them!

“Locked up here inside our spirit
Is the child that we are, hear it
Some of us will always fear it
And some will heed the cry”


One comment

  1. […] Japan « Length IS important Tsukuba-san Reloaded July 10, 2008 As announced before, it’s time for the second, somehow less sane version of hiking at Mount Tsukuba. This time, […]

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