Mikans, Tea, and Eagles

Another beautiful Tuesday morning, another impromptu decision to skive off work and go hiking. This time I set out to climb Mankanho, whose name could be translated as “Full View Mtn.” I was hoping for a view of Fuji, and as you can see from the pic above I was not disappointed.

I biked to the trail head in Hanazawa, a little hamlet up a mountain valley on the north edge of my town. (Side note: being able to bike to trail heads is a nice feature of where I live.) Hanazawa is known for having historic wooden homes with foundation walls made of stones in a diamond pattern. Around Hanazawa are mikan orchards which are reaching the peak of their season just now.

In Hanazawa I passed a home with a built-in fruit stand. They were selling mikans, and quite cheaply, so I bought a bag for the hike. It’s on the honour system: drop your money in the blue box and take your fruit.

Of course, 100 m up the trail I went through a mikan orchard where I could have stolen a knapsack full of mikans for free. Perhaps that’s why they were so cheap back at the fruit stand.

Further up I passed through some lovely tea fields, with tea bushes in carefully manicured rows.

More tea close to the summit.

The trail was steep in a few places. It’s hard to tell from this picture, but this bit was basically a flight of stairs going straight up the mountain, probably equivalent to a 10 story building.

The summit was ideal, an open grassy space with a 360 degree view. There was a little shrine, a shelter, and picnic benches. Thanks to the beautiful weather I could see all the way to the Izu Peninsula across the bay.

To the south was Takakusa Mtn., which we climbed back in August, and a peekaboo view of the Yaizu port area. By the way, this picture gives a good idea of what happens to tea bushes that are not trimmed. That’s rows of tea bushes on the right. On the left, it’s also tea. I don’t know why the farmer stopped trimming that area, but you can see it will turn into jungle in no time.

As I lay on the grass at the summit, I saw a pair of eagles rising in slow circles in the thermal updrafts. I include this picture to prove what an incredibly bad bird photographer I am.

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