If you like the idea of climbing Mt. Fuji but don’t have the time or energy, then this smaller alternative is maybe a better fit. Standing at 877 meters tall, you can easily conquer Tsukuba-san in a day, and you won’t have nearly the same level of crowds to compete with. From the top, you’ll get some breathtaking views of the whole of Kanto, and — weather permitting — even catch sight of Mt. Fuji far on the horizon.
There’s an Ibaraki legend which tells of the troubled relationship between these two mountains: it’s said that a god descended from heaven and, exhausted from whatever worldly business he had attended to, looked for a place to lay his head. The prideful Mt. Fuji turned him away, but Mt. Tsukuba welcomed him. As a result, Tsukuba-san was blessed with lush vegetation, while famous Fuji was left barren.
The 2-hour climb itself is also colored with local legends, such as that of the “benkei-nanamodori” rock, named because it reportedly took the warrior Musashibo Benkei seven attempts to work up the courage to walk beneath it. At the top, you’ll find not one but two peaks, designated male and female and said to make the mountain a symbol of fertility and matrimony.
Whether it’s the myths or the views that attract you, you’ll leave Mt. Tsukuba having enjoyed one of the best hikes in the entire Kanto region.
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