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Visit to Mt Takao and Dinner at Ukai Toriyama

My day started with a flurry of phone calls from people who had looked out of the window and decided they would take the 'dinner only' option after all. Rain was indeed forecast for the entire day, the first time the annual C&O Takao outing had not been blessed with clement weather. (The first such outing was in May, 2002.) Still, the forecast was only for light rain, so I felt no inclination to invoke the torrential rain cancellation clause!
I got to Takaosanguchi Station around 11.15 to await the other participants, most of whom would be arriving on the tokkyu due in at 11.48. It was then that I noticed a text message from my daughter, telling me that the train had been delayed because of an accident at Rokakoen Station. In the event, it was only a 10-minute delay, so all 18 of the intrepid hikers remaining on the list were to be seen setting off from the station soon after 12.00. It was an extremely good mix of people, with ages ranging from the early twenties to early eighties: Hugh Wilkinson had celebrated his 80th birthday the previous day. The Cambridge/Oxford, male/female, Japanese/non-Japanese ratios were good, as usual. We were also pleased to welcome two new members, Yuki Iida (Linacre Oxford) and Eisuke Kawano (St Catherine’s Oxford), to the Society on this rather damp occasion.
We decided to take the main route up for the first time ever, the fact that it is paved appearing to be an advantage given the weather. This afforded us the opportunity to peer through the mist at Takaosan Yakuou-in, which, with its fine collection of tengu, was actually well worth seeing. From the temple, it is a fairly short walk to the top, where we arrived shortly before 2 p.m. On previous visits the summit had always resembled some of the more popular parts of central Tokyo in terms of the number of people milling around, but this time it was virtually deserted. Only one of the refreshment shacks was open, so we took it over, leaving the tatami for the younger members of the party. The hut’s owners were obviously very pleased to get any customers at all, as evidenced by the two boxes of chocolates and two bags of crisps they gave us as omiyage as we left a little before three.
Hugh Wilkinson and Doreen Simmons headed off for the cable car, while the rest of us opted for our usual route of descent, the Inariyama route. This was very slippery in places, and I was expecting at least one person (probably me) to reach the bottom completely plastered in mud. While most of us were indeed fairly muddy from the knees down, I’m glad to be able to report that my worst fears were not realized. Unfortunately, though, the rain strengthened on the way down, so those who had omitted to bring umbrellas, presumably thinking them out of place on a mountain, were looking pretty bedraggled by the time we reached the bottom. Which we did with about 15 minutes to spare before taking Ukai Toriyama’s 4.40 bus to the restaurant after saying goodbye to the hike-only contingent and meeting up with the faint-hearted dinner-only people. The latter group must have been horrified by our appearance (particularly Julian Culliford’s) and secretly delighted that they hadn’t joined us on the mountain!
The twenty of us on the list for dinner arrived at Ukai Toryama at 5.00 on the dot and were escorted almost immediately to our room, no doubt to get us out of the way because of our bedraggled appearance. This spacious room was near the main entrance but outside the main garden area, unfortunately. Still, the deep green foliage (mainly bamboo), thatched roofs and mist-shrouded hilltops that made up the view from the windows looked pleasant enough in the driving rain. It was a tatami room, of course, but it was slightly disconcertingly equipped with high tables and chairs. Maybe it’s a room they set aside for large groups of muddy foreigners? We had the regular barbecued chicken course and nobody, as far as I know, managed to roll their skewer off the grill into the surrounding ash that serves as a bed for the white-hot charcoal. Another first for this outing, I believe.
At the end of the meal (just after 7), we went for a stroll through the main gardens, had a group photo or two taken in front of the main entrance, and took the restaurant’s 7.30 bus back to the station. Annoyingly, the little shop next to the station where Huw Williams and I had been hoping to buy beer for the train journey was already closed, and there were no beer machines in evidence. We didn’t have to wait long for a tokkyu heading for central Tokyo, though.
Tim Minton, May 2006

Those on the hike (18):
Charlie Bourlet (guest), Julian Culliford, Beverley Horne, Yuki Iida, Ayaka Ikeura (guest), Meiying Imanaka (guest), Richard Jones (guest), Eisuke Kawano, Denis Law (guest), Colin McNicoll, Emily Minton (guest), Tim Minton, Ciaran Murray (guest), Phil Robertson, Doreen Simmons, Hugh Wilkinson, Huw Williams, Nobuko Yamazaki

Those attending dinner at Ukai Toriyama (20):
Julian Culliford, Beverley Horne, Yuki Iida, Ayaka Ikeura (guest), Richard Jones (guest), Eisuke Kawano, Myoung Soo Kim (guest), Tomoko Kitaoka (guest), Denis Law (guest), Colin McNicoll, Tim Minton, Geoff Parr, Phil Robertson, Sayaka Saisho, Fukuko Shikado (guest), Takafumi Shikado (guest), Takeo Shikado, Doreen Simmons, Hugh Wilkinson, Huw Williams

Posted in | Submitted by tim.minton on Fri, 2006-05-26 15:00.
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