Traveling and exploring outdoors with your child is a perfect tonic for parenting stress. But with the crowded summer destinations, fully-booked hotels, expensive Shinkansen and plane fares, there seems to be nowhere else to go. Instead, we decided to go on a hike on a lesser visited but no less impressive mountain near Tokyo.
Mt. Jinba (陣馬山 Jinba-san) is located along the border of Hachiōji, Tokyo and Fujino, Kanagawa Prefecture and stands at around 857 meters.
It is listed as one of Japan’s best mountain hikes. Most people suggest hiking Mt. Jinba together with Mt. Takao via the Mt. Takao/Mt. Jinba trail, which is around 18.5 kilometers and takes around 5 hours and 25 minutes, but we chose to hike Mt. Jinba only.
We took the Chuo Rapid service from Shinjuku to Takao (Tokyo) Station which costs ¥550 and then headed to the north exit to catch the Nishi Tokyo Bus (Bus Stop No 1, the bus will have a banner of the white horse found at the peak of Mt. Jinba) bound for Jinba Kogen Shita (陣場高原下). The bus ride took around 30 to 35 minutes, before we alighted at the last stop.
We also took note of the bus times from Jinba Kogen Shita back to Takao Station so we could plan and manage our journey.
From here we walked further up (right side if the bus stop is behind you) until we saw the signage leading to the trails.
The trek starts with a paved road of approximately 1.5 kilometers until you find the trail entrance veering of to the left. You can either take the Top of Mt. Jinba trail which is 1.9 kilometers from that point or the Wada Pass which is 2.4 kilometers away.
We took the paved asphalted Wada Pass considering that we have a baby with us. There are very few people hiking in Mt. Jinba compared to the neighboring Mt. Takao but the quiet and peaceful atmosphere is invigorating. It is a breezy and cloudy day and the mist adds up to the enchanting scenery.
The concrete road is quite easy but there is a cross road where you’ll have to choose to either take the stairs or the rough road. We took the stairs as this path is faster with only an estimated 15 to 20 minutes trekking time. This part of the hike will test your thigh strength especially if you are carrying a more-than-eight-kilogram baby.
It was already drizzling when we reached the peak of Mt. Jinba. We were not able to see the 360-degree panoramic view of the surrounding areas because of the fog.
So, we just ate our packed bento lunch along with a bowl of hot udon we boought in the snack stalls. After that, we took a photo of the famous concrete white horse. This statue was erected in 1969 by Hachioji Tourist Association representing the meaning of the word “Jin-ba” (military camp horse).
We took the other route on our descent. The start of the route begins at the path located on the left side of the toilet (if the toilet is behind you).
The trail was muddy and slippery because of the rain. We were very watchful of every step we took ensuring that we don’t slip and fall. We even took a broken tree branch that we found along the way and used it as hiking stick.
Over-all, the hike was fun and satisfying. It was good to be outdoors again communing with nature especially after being cooped up in the house for a while.
My baby also seemed to enjoy the hike. When he is awake, he is gazing around contentedly as if admiring the view. But he slept most of the time. He might have been lulled to sleep by the rocking motion of our steps. Using the Ergo baby carrier in a hip carry style was also very comfortable and allowed me to see the trail clearly.
We may not have been able to see the magnificent view from the peak of Mt. Jinba but the hike is quite an experience. The quietness, peacefulness, and beauty of the unspoiled nature is really revitalizing.