The lady in the brown cardigan and I were matching each other stride for stride. For an awful moment, it looked like she might overtake me in our rush to get to the station. In the end, I only won by an elbow.
I should have beaten her more easily; she just kept coming back at me. In my defence, I am out of shape, and I was carrying a heavy backpack. In her defence, she was wearing a skirt………..and highheels………….and she was at least 70.
The race for the 5:12 out of Nishiogi may not have proved my fitness, but it should show how keen I was to escape Tokyo for a few hours.
A 60 minute train ride through grey suburbs took me to the western edge of the Kanto plain and the foot of Mount Takao (599m), part of a range that rises like a green wall, keeping Tokyo in – and out.
The trail up Tokyo`s wall to the summit of Mount Takao is 5km long, lined with wooden lanterns, fearsome beasts, temple gates and tiny shrines. They were tempting diversions but oxygen-stops aside, I wasn`t in the mood for lingering. There was too much concrete, too much stiff neatness, and too much fear of the crowds behind. I felt the city clinging to my shoulders.
I reached the summit by 8am. Then for 17km I hiked along the green wall, strolling down and wheezing up, a tightrope-walk along Tokyo`s border, on the right grey, muggy haze concealed 30 million people and an ocean of concrete, on the left steep slopes covered with green forest. The boundary seemed to separate worlds, like desert and jungle. I`ll have to get fitter so I can see some more.
Click on this link to see a map clearly showing grey and green divide at Tokyo`s western edge.
This is a link that shows the walking trails around Mount Takao. I took the Jimba trail and walked down after to Fujino station (JR Chuo Line).