Earlier I talked about my car ride to Takeda Jō and the reflections I had on the way. This time I would like to share with you our experience once we arrived.
Takeda Jō (as you can see in the title) is often called the Machu Picchu of Japan. Unfortunately before I went I didn’t know much about the history of the ruins of the castle, beyond that Hideyoshi Toyotomi was involved somehow. With that in mind, I feel sort of like a fraud lecturing about the history behind the castle, so feel free to read about it here. I didn’t realize how relatively recent it is – it seems almost too young to be in such bad shape!
It is really beautiful though, and I definitely suggest taking a trip there if you can. If at all possible, I’d like to return in the summer on a clear day. I still managed to take some neat pictures, but I think they would have been even better with a blue background. Enjoy!
Here’s a little glimpse of what the town underneath the mountain looked like. The streets were very narrow here too, as you can see how much of the road the dashboard takes up in this picture. How two cars fit through here without falling into the gutter, I fear I will never understand.
I wasn’t sure about the reason for all these steps, but it looked pretty interesting.
By the time we got there, I was so excited to get out of the car and hike. The drive hadn’t been too bad, all things considered, but I was definitely in わくわく mode.
We finally got on the right path…
…and got our first glimpse of the ruins! I began getting really excited at this point, rather similar to the first time I ever saw a castle (they’re the tiny clump of rocks on top of the mountain).
As my dad always says, “the number one rule in life is, ‘don’t fall down.’ ”
After parking our car at the base of the trail, we were confronted with this little area to clean your shoes.
Then we found the map of the mountain, only to also discover…
…that it was closed for the day, due to snow. We were super disappointed, after all our detours and all that built-up excitement. Not to mention spending so much money on renting the car and planning our trip. But just while we were standing there, hearts sinking, we saw a couple people coming down from the mountain. Well, if they survived the trip, why not us? Since the only thing blocking the entrance was a small cord we decided to keep going, at least a little further to see if it was still passable, and I pushed down my feelings of uneasiness at breaking the rules (I wish I was more of an easy rebel).
While there were a couple of icy steps, overall the path was still really clear. Most of it didn’t even have snow. I’m guessing the warning was there to keep them from getting sued. We passed a lot of people on the way up, though I was getting a little worried at how late it was getting. The majority of people we came across were on their way down the mountain, not up.
After hiking a little ways, looking back gave us a great view.
And then…we arrived at the top!
Unfortunately for our shoes, it didn’t take long for us to find out why the cleaning-shoes area was needed.
We saw a group of people on the top of one of the steps, looking as if they wanted to re-enact Grease, or at least look like the stereotype of what ‘young hoodlums’ are. Two of the boys were shirtless and wrestling, while the girls looked on and giggled.
But who are we kidding. We’re young hoodlums too!
First I’ll show you a video of what the view looked like. Unfortunately everything I say is in Japanese (and I mispronounced Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s name), but I don’t talk for most of it anyway.
But I’d like to share with you some of the cooler pictures I took. However, it’s really hard for me to choose pictures, I like too many of them! So I’ll put these in a smaller size to make scrolling easier, and you can feel free to click on the ones that catch your attention. You can see that the photos get darker pretty quickly – I think we had less than an hour up there before we reluctantly realized that not leaving would become dangerous. As a whole the actual Takeda Castle part of our trip felt very rushed.
As you can see we left a little later than what was wise…there were no lights on the trail, at all. What was even creepier was that we met a couple of late-teenage to early-20-year-old boys traveling up the mountain at about this time. Maybe some sort of cult’s right of passage? I’m not sure. It was kind of unsettling.
Naturally, given the historical setting and the bamboo sticks left for people to use as walking sticks, we were practically obligated to take a generous amount of our historically (in)accurate martial arts/samurai poses.
And with that we kissed goodbye to Takeda Jō, and I’ll have to write more about the trip back in part III!