Stairs to the Summit: Musashi-Mitake Shrine

(Click here to start from Part 1 of this series on hiking Mount Mitake.)  High atop Mount Mitake, northwest of Tokyo, Musashi-Mitake Shrine offers gorgeous views of Chichibu Tama-Kai National Park, home to a number of sacred peaks (including Mitake). The entrance to the shrine looks much like many other Shintō holy places, with a purification fountain: and a torii marking the formal entry to the sacred space: Carved stone lanterns (toro) and ceremonial stones flank the flight of steep stone stairs leading up to the shrine’s main gate. On the day I visited, cool breezes fluttered the flags beside the stairs. Although the clouds obscured my view of

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