Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Takao and Jinba

A mid-spring day with a forecast of 80% chance of continuous rain is the perfect occasion for hiking in the mountains. In this case, the mountains of the Takao-Jinba Prefectural National Park on the western outskirts of Tokyo.

Takao-san is one of the most popular hiking destinations here, with easy access and multiple routes to the top. From the summit a ridge goes up and down through forests, over streams, and in and out of generally pleasant surroundings with such things as monkeys, wild boar, and colourful wildflowers. Cooler than the lowlands, a lot of late-blooming sakura still flourished, while most of those flowers have already shed their petals in the city below, giving way to leaves.

The ridge connects Takao with the Shiro and Kagenobu mountain peaks, and ultimately Mount Jinba, the highest of the four at 857 metres in altitude. On a clear day some of these offer panoramic views as far as central Tokyo to the east, and Mount Fuji to the southwest. Smothered in cloud and rain as it was on this occasion, we got an alternative view of haunted forests and white walls closing in all around, which in fact was no less special. Click below for photos.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


For a few weeks every spring, the pinks and whites of sakura (cherry blossoms) bloom across Japan. These hold ancient and enduring cultural significance for people in this country, who over the last few days have started gathering in astronomical numbers to partake in hanami (flower-viewing).

These photos were taken in Kitanomaru and Yoyogi Park, in places saturated with impassable oceans of people.