April 11th. 2023
Michi no eki Hakko no Sato Kozaki
Hakko no Sato Kozaki is a reasonable place to stay. It is large with a lot of overnight visitors, but the facilities are large enough to cope and the rubbish bins are emptied regularly. Very busy and rather noisy in the morning due to the convenience store. There is a vegetable stall with exceptionally cheap produce sadly of no use to us. There is also a shop selling all manner of fermented things. Heavy on the miso.
Climbing Mt. Tsukuba
On leaving we drive to Mt. Tsukuba (877m) where from the shrine, we opt to take the Shirakumobashi course. There are 3 main walking courses to choose from plus a cable car and the ropeway.
Tsukubasan shrine has some interesting aspects. This cannot be said for the first kilometre or so of the Shirakumobashi course. It is very steep, rocky and through deep, mainly Sugi (cedar) forest.
As a kafunsho/hayfever sufferer this makes the ascent purgatory. Underfoot, it is tree roots, soil and rocks plus sections of rough steps. Occasionally there is a bit of a scramble. There is no view to break the monotony of a climb that I did not enjoy at all.
Near the summit, things become a little more interesting as there are large boulders and crevasses to squeeze through. Now there are magnificent view to be had. It is said that on a clear day Mt. Fuji and Tokyo Sky Tree Tower are visible. On normal spring day, like today, all is haze.
At the summit itself there is a small shrine and an outcrop of rock to sit on and admire whatever view is on offer. It does get busy at this point as most people reach here by ropeway or cable car.
From the summit, we continue on down to the ropeway station, where a few shops are closing. It is now almost 3pm. We started the climb around 11am. D. enjoyed the climb I clearly did not. Consequently, we take the cable car down. I have no desire to hike through the dark woods again.
The cable car runs every 20 mins. And takes only 8 mins. This brings us back to the shrine where we started.
＊cable car ; 590 yen / adult / one way
Tsukuba no Yu onsen
Once back at the car, we drive to the nearby Tsukuba no Yu onsen. This bath is undergoing refurbishment and is not 100% open. Some baths are dry. It is however very good. Not large, but very attractive in a clean line, modern way. From the outside bath there is a view of a hillside and Mt. Tsukuba away to my left. D. says her side had no view.
The complicated locker system involving combination numbers, is clearly very new, which, I am confident will be abandoned for a simpler system. Not least, because the combination numbers are too small to read without glasses which are safely stowed in the car. I suspect my eyesight is better than many onsen customers so this system will be revised.
I abandoned any attempt to actually lock the locker for fear of being separated from my clothes for longer than anticipated.
＊Tukuba no yu ; 1100 yen /adult
Michi no eki Mashiko
For the night, we stop at michi no eki Mashiko. This has a large carpark with a windswept desolate air. The toilets are modern, but one of the two stalls is out of order and the place has a neglected feel.
As I write a gathering of souped-up cars is leaving with much unnecessary revving of engines. I hope they do not return. The wind is hooting like an owl.
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.