Monday, December 14, 2009

Omiharashitei, Takaosan (大見晴亭, 高尾山)

First time for me to hike Mt. Takao, the 599-metre beauty spot whose primary claim to fame is that it's still in Tokyo (much like all the parts of East LA that have been annexed for tax reasons, only going west). All the claims are true - you can get there in 45 minutes from Shinjuku if you do it right, the early part of the climb is toughest, many people avoid it by using the chairlift, and it's pretty dull, being a paved road all the way up on the route that we took. It IS pretty steep though, just slogging up that small road. The part after the chairlift and cablecar stations, where you climb through the shrine, is neat.

At the top, there be curry. Arrrr! There are several restaurants, but this one is yer basic low-rent country-style restaurant (which is actually pretty good when you think that it's on top of a mountain). They follow a fun ticket system whereby the cashier gives you food tickets in exchange for your food, and you give those to the kitchen (where the cashier goes over to a different counter to collect them). Unless you're foreign, in which case the cashier puts the tickets on the counter, looks at you for a while, picks them up and takes them into the kitchen. The food actually centers on soba, as you'd expect in a healthy mountain setting.

This was not the best curry I've ever had, but from my perspective, and certainly Jake's, it was a better choice than tsukimi tororo soba, which may be the specialty of the house. Everything tastes better in fresh air and after exercise, but these guys do themselves no favors by being indoors and at the top of a very small mountain.

We took the chairlift down, which I recommend if the weather is nice. This being Japan, you can buy beer at the station to refresh yourself during the trip.


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