Sunday, 13 April 2014

Autumn Hiking at Mt Oyama

My beginning pt - kawasaki to Sagamino Station
Ride Mass pee car towards Ebina Station to pick 2 more friends and then to Oyama

Mt. Oyama, an hour and a half from Yokohama , offers hikers a variety of courses of varying difficulty levels, with spectacular views across two valleys, convenient picnicking spots, temples, shrines, and a quaint old style shopping street. Throw in a classic cable car ride and you have a day hike that is sure to please any mood or hiking skill level.

We started from Ebina Station , ride all 4 in car to Mt Oyama. Its around 30 mins from there , parking was almost full here because autumn. Parking cost 600 yen. We reached here at around 9:00 , took cable car from Oyama station to Oyama Afuri Shrine, where the cable car also lets off with 450 Yen oneway.

Here we begin..

Best red maple autumn leaves at Mt Oyama

Mt Oyama cable car
Oyama is the mountain of Afuri Shrine. Afuri Shrine was built in 97 B.C.E. Many Samurai, such as Minamoto no Yoritomo visit here and prayed their success. There are two Afuri Shrine. Lower and Upper. The Upper shrine is located on the top of Mt. Oyama. Cable car accesses to the Lower Shrine which altitude is 700m from the sea level. Upper shrine is around 1260m from sea level.

Night lights

Afuri Shrine on Mt. Oyama (Oyama Afuri Jinja) is a Shinto shrine set on beautiful Mt. Oyama. With amazing scenic views, a deep history and religious significance, it a key point on the trail for Mt. Oyama hikers, as well as a popular spot for tourists, who can access the shrine by cable car with a minimal amount of walking involved. 
The shrine is on a beautiful patch of land with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountain areas. In fact, the whole mountain trail is very picturesque. The main hall of the shrine is quite pretty. To the right of the hall there is a small corridor that leads through the side and back of the shrine building. In the narrow passageway, you can find some very old relics and statues of historic eras, and are one of the best features of the shrine. There is also a pool of water pouring from a dragon's head that is very beautiful, and the water is pure enough for drinking. 
The word "Afuri" in the shrine's name derives from the Japanese word for "rainfall," and this is the shrine's primary function. Farmers come here to pray for rain, and many of the deities enshrined are associated with rain, thunder, and mountains. There are many other beautiful statues and structures around the shrine area. 
The history of the shrine is steeped in legend. According to the legend, in the 7th century a golden eagle snatched a 2-year-old boy from Kanagawa and carried him across the country to Nara, and set him down in the branches of a cedar tree near the legendary Todai-ji temple, telling a nearby priest to take care of him. The boy’s parents ventured across Japan for many years in search of their son, named Roben. Stopping at the famous temple to pray, they finally discovered their boy, now grown, and together they returned to Kanagawa where Priest Roben founded the origins of Afuri Shrine on Mt. Oyama. The tree the eagle had left him in, now called the “Roben Cedar,” can still be found near Nigatsu-do Hall of the Todai-ji temple complex in Nara.
Afuri Shrine is located on Mt. Oyama. At Isehara Station (Odakyu Line), take the bus nearest to the station exit and past the taxi stop. It’s Kanachu Bus #4.Take it to the end of its route (about 30 minutes). From there, you will need to climb stairs for about 10 minutes, through a small touristry town with many shops, restaurants and inns. At the top of that, you will come to the bottom station of a cable car running up the mountain, which comes every 20 minutes. A Tanzawa-Oyama “Freepass” covers the cost of the round-trip bus and cable car at a slightly discounted price than purchasing each individually. It also covers a portion of the train fare on the Odakyu Line when you are coming or leaving from Isehara Station. The Freepass can be purchased at a special window next to the Odakyu Line ticket gates at Isehara Station, or from the ticket machines on the Odakyu Line.

Lower Afuri Shrine

The stairs to the left lead to Oyama Afuri Shrine (大山阿夫利神社), where the view of the city below is quite nice. To the right of the main shrine is a long indoor corridor that has fresh natural spring water and many Shinto relics. Feel free to refill your water bottles here. Strong hikers can continue their journey up to the summit of Mt. Oyama by taking the trails exiting to the left of the shrine which we took too. This is my second time hiking and it took us around less than 2 hrs around. Riding is tough with big stairs , muddy ground but interesting ride. We couldn't see Mt Fuji because it was covered with clouds , but Mt Oyama weather was nice and sunny , as you can see from photos.

The view from the very top, unless an extremely clear day, is often obscured by clouds and mist, but there are several old disused shrine buildings to explore known as the Sekisonsa. Top of the mountain they have kind of small cafe , with beer food and some tables to have nice good picnic , friend`s wife bring nice tasty homemade food , it was wonderful to have there.

We took long way going back down , it took us around 1hr 30 mins , going back was faster but bit risky one with slippery slops , not much to see with all wildlings around. After walking around 1 hr we got resting place with long line of picnic tables here. Another 30 minute hike winds you back down to the concession area near the cable car, passing a cedar tree grove, the beautiful Niju waterfall, and a smaller shrine en route. We were back to Afuri Shrine and then back in cable car and down. Enjoyed Tofu in one of the restaurant down on the slope , though I took " Chikara Udon " not the tofu. We started walking 10:30 and completed turn back to down around 16:00. So one should start early as much possible , around 8:00 I guess..

Autumn is full of people , I think summer is best hike with less people but will miss seeing autumn colors...

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