Ōyama in Autumn

My recent visit to Kanagawa’s Mount Ōyama was my first. It’s for this reason that I don’t have any previous experience to compare it to and yet, I’m prepared to suggest that mid-to-late-November is the best time of year to visit. I base this purely on the magic colours of the autumn leaves (that my photos don’t do justice to – not even close).

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The Japanese word for autumn colours is kouyou (紅葉). Please note, I use the word “autumn” because that’s what it’s called. I also put a “u” in the word “colours” for similar reasons…

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I have a problem; Isn’t referring to the place as “Mount Ōyama” a little tautological? I mean, the “yama” bit means “mountain”. From here on, I shall refer to it as “Ōyama” if that’s okay with anyone who happens to be reading this.

I guess I could also call it by its other names; Mount Afuri or Mount Kunimi. At 1,252 metres (4,108 ft), Ōyama can be found in Kanagawa Prefecture, hanging out with Mount Tanzawa and a bunch of other mountains in the Tanzawa-Ōyama Quasi-National Park.

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Ōyama is a significant religious spot, with the Ōyama-Afuri Shrine (Shinto) near the top and the Ōyama-dera (Buddhism) about half-way (yes, there’s a cable car for the time-poor, lazy, or those with…. weak knees?).

The area is also famous for both spinning tops and tofu. I can’t vouch for the spinning tops but the tofu is the absolute business – thanks to the fresh mountain water, I’m told.

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I visited on a week day with Japanese family and most of the tourists appeared to be fairly local. That’s based on the few nice people who decided to exercise their English skills with me and make small talk. I guess they (correctly) assumed I’m a native English speaker in much the same way as I didn’t notice anyone else who was. Anyway, it was quite busy and I can only imagine how many people visit over the weekend at this time of year.

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This dude was also there. I’m led to believe this instrument is called a hang and was created in Switzerland. Either way, it looks like a spaceship. The sign suggested the tunes it emanates are great for yoga and meditation. Personally, I’m not in to yoga and I meditate to death metal…. but it sounded cool.

My personal musings aside, Ōyama is a great place for hiking, sightseeing, and taking a bunch of pretty little photos for Instagram to make your work friends jealous in order to compensate for how empty you feel inside.

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Get There

From Tokyo: Take the Odakyu line from Shinjuku to Isehara (around 1 hour) and then jump on the Kanagawa Chuo Kotsu Bus from Isehara to the Ōyama Cable Bus Stop. From there, it’s about a 15 minute walk to the cable or the start of your hike.

For getting to Ōyama from anywhere else I recommend either a) have a Japanese father-in-law to drive you, or b) use this new thing called Google.


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