Have you been to Mt Oyama?
Did you just say Mt… Where?!
An easy day trip from Tokyo, Mt Oyama should be top of your list if you’re looking to escape the city or just experience a different side of Japanese life. Known as the rainy mountain, it boasts traditional crafts and great hiking as well as being a popular pilgrimage site. For more on its history, read this excellent piece by Alice Gordenker.
Grab yourself a Tanzawa-Oyama Free Pass (2520 yen) at Shinjuku that lets you ride the train, bus and cable car for free for 2 days. Then, hope on the Odakyu line to Isehara. A short bus journey up into the hills and you are there.
It is a little bit of a climb up some steps to the cable car but you will be following a shopping street. Stop to browse different kinds of pickles and sweets, or even stop to get the excellent pork-tofu croquettes from Oyama Tonkatsu Nakamuraya (you can eat in or take out). Stop also to admire the traditional wooden spinning tops which are a local craft in the area. Sadly, there are only three makers left.
Once at the cable car, you get to admire the landscape as you are taken higher and higher.
At the top station, you will find yourself by the lower shrine of Oyama Afuri shrine with the main but significantly smaller shrine being at the summit. It’s a fairly steep but rewarding climb that can be completed in a 2.5 hour loop.
But the great thing about Mt Oyama is the variety of paths and Mt Fuji views on a clear day. For those not wanting a strenuous hike, follow a flattish path along to Miharashidai (見晴台). Take a map of the area and see what you feel like.
Now, while I love spending time in nature – I take myself for walks and even went hiking in Yakushima and Ogasawara alone – I also enjoy working up an appetite. (….Who am I kidding? I always have an appetite!)
After admiring the breathtaking views and enjoying the fresh mountain air on Mt Oyama, it is clearly time to treat yourself to more of the same BUT with delicious things included!
Teahouse Sekison is located in Oyama Afuri Shrine and it simply stunning – from the setting and design to its very fashionable menu.
Of course, you will find excellent tea and coffee – the “spicy latte” with cinnamon is quite a treat – but you can enjoy a light meal. Their galettes look particularly tempting.
I was already stuffed from eating a giant guesthouse breakfast and then finishing everyone else’s breakfast (shamelessly, may I add) so I only went for sweets.
The matcha tiramisu is apparently creamy and dreamy and an absolute must. Which is why it was sold out by the time I got there. Instead, I got a matcha affogato, which was hardly disappointing. The bitter, umami-full matcha flooded the vanilla ice-cream combining into a smooth, lightly sweet dessert, a colour as vibrant as the forested mountains before me.
Teahouse Sekison / 茶寮 石尊