Hiking Mount Tenranzan Part 1 (Tenranzan – Part 2)
The heart of Tokyo never sleeps. People are always bustling from one place to the next, cars are zooming along the roadways, and voices and music softly rumble from the ajar doors and windows of houses and shops. The constant stream of energy can be draining, especially if you love nature like I do. The popular parks like Shinjuku Gyoen National Park and Yoyogi Park are great for sunbathing and busking, but you can’t lose yourself in the woods, because, well, there isn’t any.
So there I was one particularly cramped morning commute, staring at an advertisement about visiting Tenranzan in Saitama. As someone’s briefcase stabbed my stomach and the kid beside me coughed into my ear for the nth time, I promised myself that on the next day off I was going to avoid crowds and instead take a hike.
My choices of hiking destinations were:
- Tenranzan (also known as Tonosuyama)
- Tama’s Mt. Takao (which has a money park)
- Chichibu’s Mt. Kasa, Mt. Dodaira and Mt. Ohgiri
The hiking trail at Chichibu was reportedly 6 hours long. Top that with the gruelling travel time of about two hours and I’d have myself day much longer than necessary. Takao-san is hugely recreational and promised to be jammed with people. I chose Tenranzan in Hanno because, not only is it fairly easy to reach, the estimate length of the hike was about 2.5 to 3 hours depending on your walking speed. Plus, Tenranzan was featured in the second season of an anime called Yama no Susume (Encouragement of Climb). If it’s recommended, why not?
That’s how I wound up on Hanno’s main shopping road, Ginza-dori. Apparently, the street was closed on Monday. Bummer.
The signage guiding me to Tenranzan brought me to a graveyard. Foreboding, right? For a moment I dithered, but after a double-take, the signs implied that I needed to cross through the cemetery.
The path brought me to the backside of the Hanno Municipal Museum, which was also closed. Not that I minded, since my main goal was to avoid massive amounts of people after all. The quiet was surreal. I started to realize just how different the Greater Metropolitan area is from the rest of Tokyo and its outskirts. Hearing chirping birds instead of school bells and car horns was a reprieve.
I bypassed the tranquil grounds of Nounin-ji Temple for the mountain trail. The paved path from the parking lot at the shrine was pretty steep. Not even halfway up I found a worn trail that lead to a cliff. It became rather evident how high up I was already. Even though the day was considerably cloudy, the view of Hanno sprawled out in panorama. I reached a waypoint, designated on the map as No. 8. One elderly man was there, swinging his arms and stretching rajio-taisou style. Not even a minute into the trail to Tenranzan’s peak is a collection of 16 Rakan Buddha that were installed to honor the mountain in the 1800s.