Under the MEXT scholarship, I studied Gender and Media at the University of Tokyo from 2011 to 2014. Here’s how I got in.
Access: JR Ome Line Mitake Station
Cost: Around JPY 3,710 (Shinjuku Sta. to Mitake Station: JPY 970; Bus to Mitakesan: JPY 280; Round-trip Cable Car JPY 1,110; One-way Lift to Anzan Sugi: JPY 100)
Difficulty: Absolute beginner to beginner
Duration: Approx. 3 hours
Hiking Course: Mitake Station→Mitakesan Station (Cable Car)→Anzan Sugi→Shopping Street→Musashi Mitake Shrine→Nagao Taira→Tengu Rock→Rock Garden
Date Visited: April 16, 2017
While not as popular as Mt. Takao, Mt. Mitake makes a very pleasant day hike for people living or staying in Tokyo. Most of the hike is pretty easy with some options for challenging routes. And by easy, I mean I hiked this mountain with a grade one sprain, which is something no person with proper sense would do, but given that I frequently meet elderly people with slightly impaired motor abilities go on hikes, I decided to take on the challenge. (That, and I was seeing my end to a promise to a friend.) Continue reading
Location: Futtsu, Chiba
Highlights: Farm animals, animal shows, flower fields, fruit picking, crafts workshop, shopping
Good for: Friends, families, couples, pets
Adult – JPY 1,500
Child – JPY 800
Dog – JPY 600
Adult – JPY 1,350
Child – JPY 700
*Sold at ticket machines (Loppi, Famiport, etc.) in convenience stores
With Round-trip JR Tickets
Adult – JPY 8,400
Child – JPY 6,000
*Sold at JR View Plaza inside JR Stations and Ekinet (Japanese only)
9:00-17:00 on weekends and holidays/9:30-16:30 on weekdays (Feb to November)
9:30-16:00 on weekends and holidays/10:00-16:00 on weekdays (December to January)
By Train – Take the JR train from Tokyo Station to Kimitsu Station/Sanukimachi Station
By Highway Bus – Take the bus from Tokyo Station to Kimitsu Station
*There’s a shuttle for Mother Farm at Kimitsu Station
Official English Website: http://www.motherfarm.co.jp/en/
Date Visited: March 25, 2017
The last time I wrote about Mother Farm, I didn’t go in-depth. I went again earlier this year, and given how lovely the place is, I think it deserves an article that talks more about its charms.
Location: Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture
Height: Nantai Peak (877 m); Nyotai Peak (871 m)
Difficulty: Absolute beginner to intermediate
Duration: Climb – approximately 2 hours on a leisurely pace
Access: From Tsukuba Station (Tsukuba Express), take exit 3. The bus for Mt. Tsukuba arrives on Bus Stop # 1.
When to Go: May to June for lush greenery; Late October to late November for (a bit of) fall foliage
Date Visited: March 20, 2017
Route: Tsukuba Shrine→Nyotai Peak →Ropeway to Tsustsujigaoka (via the Miyukigahara Trail)
Mt. Tsukuba makes an easy day trip from Tokyo. Located in Ibaraki Prefecture, one can easily get to the mountain by hopping on the Tsubaraki Express or a highway bus from Tokyo Station. Both will take you to Tsukuba Center, where you can ride a bus to either Tsukuba Shrine or Tsutsujigaoka, which serve as the mountain train’s entry points.
Several hiking trails are available, but for this particular trip, I chose Miyukigahara. Frankly, I wish I didn’t, as the the trail was mostly composed of steep rocks. (I prefer to see lush greenery and flowers on my hikes.) The trail, however, is pretty straightforward, with markers along the way to tell you how far you still need to go to reach the top.
Mt. Tsukuba has twin peaks named Nantai and Nyotai. For those who want to enjoy the view from the top without the workout, there’s a cable car at Tsukuba Shrine and a ropeway at Tsutsujigaoka. Continue reading
Tsukuba Wanwan Land
Location: 〒300-4353 Ibaraki Prefecture, Tsukuba, Numata 5-7-9 (https://goo.gl/maps/WguvrbDV77n)
Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM
Official Website (English, limited)
Adult (ages 13 and up) – JPY 1500
Child (ages 3 to 12) – JPY 700
Senior (65 and above) – JPY 750
Infant (ages 0-2) – free
By Bus: From Tokyo Station, take the bus for Tsukuba Center (approx 70 mins). From Tsukuba Center, take the bus bound for Mt. Tsukuba and get off at Tsukubasanguchi Bus Stop. Tsukuba Wanwan Land is a 10-minute walk from here.
By Train: From Akihabara Station, take the Tsukuba Express to Tsukuba Station.From Tsukuba Center, take the bus bound for Mt. Tsukuba and get off at Tsukubasanguchi Bus Stop. Tsukuba Wanwan Land is a 10-minute walk from here.
One of the things I miss sorely about Manila is being in the constant company of dogs and cats. Living the single life in Tokyo doesn’t allow much room for pets, especially if you’re always out and about. Of course, if you live in one of the major cities in Japan, you can very well visit animal cafes to satisfy your need for a furry companion. But with limited hours, overpriced drinks and at times overcrowded shops, I’d say heading out to the Tsukuba is a much better alternative. Continue reading
Tokyo — Spring has finally come and just as cherry trees have begun to flower, Anniversaire Cafe in Omotesando has also announced the start of their annual Sakura Fair! From March 22nd to April 18th, guests can enjoy sakura-themed items on the menu. Indulge in these treats while basking in the warmth of the spring sun at the cafe’s open terrace! Continue reading
Date Visited: March 12, 2017
Nestled in the urban jungle of Shimbashi is the curious world of Hamarikyu Gardens. I say curious because big public parks in Tokyo are usually enclosed in such a way that stepping into them takes you into a different world altogether; Hamarikyu, on the other hand, makes you rediscover the vastness of the sky.
This is in itself a good thing, but it also makes for a peculiar experience. At Hamarikyu, nature and traditional structures abound, but the presence of tall, proud buildings standing in the distance also cannot be ignored. The result, at least for me, is a discord in time and space; a conflation of relaxation and stress, as if reminding the visitor that one cannot exist without the other.