September 2013 - Vikingess Voyages

Monday, September 30, 2013

Hiking in Tokyo: Takaosan (高尾山)

10:44:00 PM

The view of Tokyo from Mt. Takao
When you're getting tired of the metropolitan Tokyo lifestyle it is good to know that the wild nature awaits just a short train-ride outside the city. You can take the Keio-line (京王線) from Shinkuju Station (it costs 370 yen and takes about 1 hour), just remember to change trains in Takao as your final destination is Takaoguchi Station.
The beginning of the hiking trail, where you also can choose to ride a chairlift instead of walking.
Today Yuma and I took the train from Shinjuku heading for Mount Takao, where we had planned on spending the day. Takaosan is one of the most popular hiking destinations for people in Tokyo, both because it is close to the city but also because it is considered a sacred mountain.
A cute statue by the root of the mountain
With a number of different trails to choose from that includes sightseeing spots such as a waterfall, holy temples, a beer garden and a monkey park there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to spend a whole day despite the fact that the 599-meter summit can be reached in a relatively short time. For those who prefer not to walk that much there is also chairlifts that can make the trip easier.

We tried out a soba dish before the hike
If you want to try a local speciality before your visit to the mountain the local restaurants selling soba or dango could provide a good alternative. There are many restaurants by the root of the mountain where you can try a variety of soba, and you can find many small souvenir shops etc up in the mountain where they sell dango as well.
A statue by the road

Enjoying the hike in beautiful surroundings

A small shrine we passed by
There are many things to see as you walk through the forest on the way to Takaosan's summit, such as small shrines and statues. Once you reach the end station of the chairlift you'll again get the feeling that this is place really is aimed at tourists, as they sell a whole variety of food and lucky charms here and there.
A man selling dango
3 for 360! Oishikatta :)
The entrance to the monkey park
A statue right by the "octopus three", a three that looks like an octopus
Close to the top of Takaosan. 
Passing by a suspension bridge
People enjoying the view from the top
In our case we had brought with us Yuma's portable cooking stove, and just cooked a simple meal on the top of Mt. Takao. The rest of the day was spent on the mountain relaxing in the sun. Although you can reach the summit of Mt. Takao in just an hour or two there are still a lot to see, and you can choose to check out more trails if you want to spend longer time in the forest.
A shrine by a waterfall
Small Japanese gods dressed in red. Some of them look suspiciously similar to Santa Claus :P
Some of the trails are paved most of the way, and when the pavement ends there are still artificial stairs to make the trip go smoothly. Personally I prefer having more natural trails with roots and rocks in the road, and on the way back we found one route that fulfilled this criteria perfectly. All in all Mt. Takao was a short but nice hike which I would like to visit again sometimes. Perhaps next time we'll try out some of the longer hiking trails from the link below. It is definitely nice to get completely away from the busy lifestyle in Tokyo sometimes.

Related blogposts:
All blogposts from Tokyo
All blogposts about Hiking

Other Pages:
Takaosan Hiking Trails
Yako-in Yuki-ji Official Page
Wondering how to get to Takaosan from your nearest station? Check out your options from Hyperdia.

Sakura viewing at 
Mount Takao
Hiking in Chiba: Mt. Nokogiri
Hiking in Chiba: 
Mt. Nokogiri
Hiking in Kamikochi
Hiking in Kamikochi: 
Mt. Chōgatake 

Hotel Booking:

Book hotel in Japan
My hotel reviews

Do you have any questions or recommended travel destinations in Japan? Please feel free to leave me a comment in the comment section below!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Embassy Internship in Tokyo!

6:30:00 PM
Although I was supposed to graduate from university this summer I decided to extend my studies by one semester after I was offered a six month position as a trainee at the Norwegian embassy in Tokyo. It has been a month since I started working, so it's time for a short update about recent happenings! With that said, this will be more like a very general overview of how it is to work at the embassy. The reason for this is that working for the foreign department of course involves a certain degree of confidentiality. All I can say is that so far my time at the embassy has been very rewarding. The good working environment at the embassy and my nice colleagues makes it particularly nice to be here, and I felt welcomed from the very first day at the embassy.
In front of the embassy, ready for duty
I am one of two interns who have been employed since the end of August, and our duties have been many and varied. We participate for instance in various press conferences and seminars which we then write reports about. To give a couple of examples it can involve a press conference with a minister, or seminars held by professors from the top Japanese universities. For me it was especially great to participate in a luncheon with Hiroshi Mikitani, the CEO and founder of Rakuten, as I will start working in Rakuten from April next year. I even got the chance to ask him a question directly, which I somehow managed to deliver in an understandable manner despite being nervous as can be..
Hiroshi Mikitani from Rakuten at a luncheon at FCCJ
Yohei Sasakawa, chairman of the Sasakawa Foundation, holding a speech at a seminar about the Northern Sea Route 
There are also some daily tasks we are in charge of, such as sending out newsletters or updating the embassy’s homepage. In addition we help out for instance when there are special events at the embassy, and get to participate in quite a few of them ourselves. With regular newsletters and rapports coming to my inbox every single day from other embassies all over the world I can easily stay up-to-date about recent events, something I surely will miss when the term is over.

Holding events at the embassy
I also want to mention that with my 2-year experience of living in Kyoto I find it particularly delightful to be a part of the Norwegian environment here in Tokyo. We were not that many Norwegians at my university in Kyoto, and we did not really have a “Norwegian community” there either. Now that I work at the embassy I get to meet a lot of interesting people coming all the way from Norway for various reasons, and it is nice to have the chance to share experiences and knowledge about our country of common interest; Japan. Going to karaoke with Norwegians who love to sing traditional Japanese enka in perfect Japanese is for instance not something you get to experience every day.

I look forward to the coming months and challenges, and I’ll try to keep the blog updated with my leisure activities here in Tokyo as well. Thanks again to all readers for taking the time to read my blog^^

Related blogposts

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sightseeing in Norway: One day in Bergen

7:13:00 PM
Bergen has a long history as the former capital of Norway, and currently as the second largest city in Norway. The city was founded in 1070, and back then it was known under the name Bjørgvin. It was also a central city in the old Hanseatic League, and the Hanseatic heritage still remains strong, for instance through the old Hanseatic Warf “Bryggen” (“the Harbor”), and the local Hansa Brewery. Citizens of Bergen are very proud and found of their city, which can be reflected in their patriotism towards the local soccer team Brann and the general statement that “Eg e'kje fra Norge, eg é fra Bergen” (“I’m not from Norway, I’m from Bergen”; of course exclaimed in the local Bergen dialect).
The old food court Kjøttbasaren from 1874 by the harbor.
From the new food court located underneath the tourist information center.
You can among other things see huge lobsters at the harbor's fish market
While I was born in Bergen and have all my relatives here, I actually grew up mostly in other parts of the country, so you can't really tell my dialect. Still, Bergen is still one of my home towns, which made it particularly nice to be back here. I took my bachelor degrees in Pedagogy and Japanese at the University in Bergen, and it was the last place I lived before I moved to Japan. It is a beautiful city; at least when the weather is nice..

The beautiful Music Pavilion has a history going back to 1888
Students enjoying their introduction week in Bergen

Bergen is actually known for its good student environment, as the city is home to both the University of Bergen (UiB), the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) and the Bergen University College (HiB). Despite being a small city (after 3 years in Asia felt like visiting a small village) the city has a young population and exchange students visiting from all over the world. This summer when I visited Bergen a lot of the students were enjoying their introduction week at school and many students spend this week participating in a wide variety of activities. Recent years it has become a popular group activity to decide on a costume theme, and typically all student in one area of study then dress up in the same type of costumes.

Bergen is also famous among tourists as the gateway to the fjords, and both the Sandefjord, Hardangerfjord and Geirangerfjord are places within reach from the former capital. But Bergen is also a great tourist destination in itself. Norwegians often refer to Bergen as “the city between the seven mountains”, and the mountainous terrain surrounding the city makes it an ideal destination for tourists looking for short or long hiking adventures. 
View of Bergen from the small streets above the harbor area
The funicular in Bergen
For those who don’t like to do the exercise, Mt. Fløyen or Ulriken are good options to see the spectacular view of Bergen as they are accessible by respectively funicular and cable car. However, while the mountains surrounding Bergen make it look like an idyllic place to live they certainly also help making it one of Norway’s wettest cities, especially during the autumn.
Above: The entrance to the funicular
There is a lot I can write about Bergen, as it is the city I was born in and where most of my relatives live. I have decided to write a couple of more blog posts about Bergen so that it will be easier for my readers to find information about possible topics of interest. Hope some of these also can be of help to anybody thinking about visiting Bergen in the future. And as always, I'm always very happy when I receive questions and/or comments, so please don't hesitate if you have something on your mind! 

The lake "Lille Lungårdsvann" in the center of Bergen
Small streets in Bergen
Such streets are known as "smau" 

Related blogposts

Recommended Hotels in Bergen

Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Bergen

Thon Hotel Bristol Bergen

Det Hanseatiske Hotel


About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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