With the start of September, Tokyo Summer ended: no more yukatas, festivals, and fireworks shows. However, now that fall is officially here I’m excited for cooler weather and changing leaves. Tokyo summers are brutal. Heck, even today I find myself profusely sweating everywhere I walk.
Anyway, I welcomed the fall equinox in the best possible way, with a day trip and hiking. Saturday I went to Yokohama with some friends. One member of our group lives there and wanted to be our guide since I have yet to visit. Unfortunately he got the flu Friday night and could only join us for lunch Saturday before telling us the itinerary he had laid out for us. We visited Yokohama without our guide, but still managed to have an enjoyable afternoon walking around and actually not visiting the cup noodle museum.
Our day began with lunch at an all you can eat Mexican place. I haven’t had Mexican food since my last night in America, so I was crazy excited when he told me we were having Mexican for lunch. And a buffet?! What a dangerous combination. We all of course ate way too much, and the food reminded me of typical US Tex Mex. My friends and I had a mini debate about what real Mexican food is. I of course won the debate because I’m unrelenting. Plus, I’m Hispanic American. Compared to two French guys and a Japanese girl by default I have to know more about Mexican food. I digress. The food was good, even if it was basically just tacos and nachos. Man, I miss Mexican food. They didn’t have any spicy sauces though. The jalapenos were the spicest item in the salsa bar so I loaded up on those. Man, I really do miss Mexican food and I mean real Mexican food. Hell, I even miss good Tex Mex.
After our near food comas I could barely move. I didn’t even try to hide my food baby that afternoon. Just when I felt like I couldn’t possibly fit anymore into my stomach, I walked by a melon own stand and all hope was lost. I thought it was the same company as my favorite melon pan in Okinawa, but the matcha ice cream was uncharacteristically icy. Then I actually read the sign and realized it wasn’t the same place; it’s the Osaka store that markets itself as the World’s Second Best Melon Pan. Yeah, I know, who advertises themselves as the second best? This honest company because the best one is definitely in Okinawa. It was still good and after two bites I knew that buying melon own in my current condition was a grave mistake. I somehow managed to eat most of it, and my Japanese friend helped me finish the rest. If I was full before from the tacos I was practically begging for a wheelchair after the melon pan.
We spent the afternoon walking around Yamashita Park and a red brick warehouse that was converted into a shopping mall. It was super cute and it did not at all feel like I was in Japan. I felt like I was transported back to the States. Even the stores were Western brands that reminded me of home, albeit much more expensive.
Next, we headed to Chinatown. Yokohama’s Chinatown is one of Japan’s largest and it was full of restaurants selling dim sum and these dumplings with soup inside. We were still too stuffed to even think about eating anything so we just walked around enjoying the crowds. We were all tired and the digestion finally had it’s effect. We called it a night and headed back to Tokyo early.
Sunday I went hiking to Mount Jinba. Originally, we were a group of four, but the organizer contacted me in the morning saying that the other two people cancelled so it would be the two of us. He wanted to make sure I was still comfortable going, especially since I didn’t know him very well. Considering he was the only person I knew in the group, I didn’t mind much. Plus, I had just insisted packing my lunch and was almost ready to go. I knew the day could be great with just the two of us.
I’m so happy I didn’t shy away from this hike. It was absolutely amazing and easily became my favorite Tokyo hike. What’s amazing is that prior to my friend proposing this location, I had never heard of Mount Jinba not found it on my multiple “Tokyo Hiking” Google searches. I guess that proves that the internet doesn’t know everything.
We arrived at Sagamiko Station about 11h and had a snack by the beautiful Lake Sagami. I could have spent the day canoeing around the lake and been content. It was so beautiful. But, it was time to get started. We hiked to a first mountain and enjoyed the view overlooking the lake. We continud along the trail and hiked downhill in the wrong direction for about 15 minutes before turning around. Trails in Japan aren’t as well marked and clear as in France, although this trail was better indicated than other ones I’ve encountered. We stopped for lunch when we rejoined the original form and saw the correct sign for Mount Jinba. We encountered an older lady who told us Mount Jinba was about two hours away. We hiked on and took a break about 40 minutes from the summit at a refreshment stand. The guy running the stand said we should probably hurry otherwise we’d be hiking in the dark back to the station. Luckily, he told us there was a bus we could take back to the station if we didn’t have enough time.
We picked up the pace and almost exactly 40 minutes later we made it to Mount Jinba and I was surprised to see a giant horse statue. I had zero idea there was a famous statue at the summit because I did zero research prior to this hike. My friend mentioned very obviously that one of the Kanji meant horse. Yes, I realized this earlier in the day when I saw a sign written. Neither of us knew what “Jin” meant, so we googled it and learned Mount Jinba translates to Battle Horse Mountain. We didn’t spend too long at the summit because it was late we had at least an hour of hiking left. We decided to cut the hike short and head to the bus stop instead of hiking 2.5 hours back to the station. The longer hike would leave us hiking in the dark. The hike is actually quite a difficult hike by Japanese standards. It’s steep with a lot of stairs. Perhaps that’s why it isn’t as popular.
Anyway, we made it down the mountain rather quickly and were both tired. A post hike onsen was exactly what I needed, but we didn’t think ahead and decided that our next hike would include an onsen. Mount Jinba was amazing and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a hike in the Tokyo area. Plus, there are many different routes.
I thought that I’d wake up this morning with sore quads and glutes. I love the post workout soreness because it means my body is changing and making progress. Today, however, I woke up perfectly fine. Either I’m in better hiking shape than I thought of that hike wasn’t as difficult as I felt it was. I mean, I was more sore last week after the Soran Bushings class. Nevertheless, I look forward to hiking Mount Jinba again.