The Legend of Mt. Tsukuba

The twin peaks of Mt. Tsukuba, the “purple mountain”

While most people have heard of Mt. Fuji, many Western visitors have never heard the name of Fujisan’s “rival,” Tsukubasan, or the legend that created the historical rivalry between the peaks.

Mt. Tsukuba, also known as the “purple mountain,” for its spectacular evening colors, rises from the northern end of the Kantō plain about 2.5 hours northeast of central Tokyo. On a clear day (or even a slightly hazy one), the summit of Mt. Tsukuba offers spectacular views of the Kantō, including glimpses of Mt. Fuji far to the south.

The massive Kantō plain, as seen from the summit of Mt. Tsukuba

According to Japanese legend, thousands of years ago the creator kami (Japanese deities) Izanagi and Izanami descended from heaven and looked for a place to spend the night. Mount Fuji declined the deities’ request, but Mt. Tsukuba offered her twin summits (871-meter Nantai, the “male peak,” and 877-meter Nyotai, the “female peak”), as well as food and sheltering trees.

Mt. Nantai (871 meters) as seen from the saddle between the summits.

Izanagi and Izanami blessed Mt. Tsukuba for her generosity, ensuring that she would remain forested and teeming with wildlife in perpetuity, while Fujisan was cursed to remain a barren, volcanic cone forever.

The lush, forested slopes of Mt. Tsukuba.

Today, Mt. Tsukuba remains a popular destination for Japanese tourists, hikers, and visitors from around the world. The mountain features several hiking trails, which ascend through spectacular, sun-dappled forests, as well as both a cable car and a ropeway (gondola) for visitors who want to see the summit views without the climb.

3 thoughts on “The Legend of Mt. Tsukuba

  • January 8, 2019 at 4:52 am

    It is so much fun to read your blogs and be as a mouse in your pocket, sharing peeps at your adventures!

    Happy trails!

    • January 9, 2019 at 1:55 am

      Thank you so much Blaze! I love being able to share the adventure, too 🙂

  • January 12, 2019 at 3:34 am

    Hallo, Hallo Ms Spann,

    *waves!* I regret I’ve lost track of your climbs from approx. August/September til New Year – I had a difficult Autumn and Winter (ie. health) which is why I’m happily eager to back-read your adventures, see what you’ve been sharing about Japan and the #100Summits themselves as well as feeling like a tagalong with you as you continue to fill your adventures with these awe-inspiring moments walking and breathing in the most beautiful summits and vistas I’ve seen!

    Your photography is such a treasure of a gift. You make us feel like we could reach out and touch the same air you’re experiencing whilst giving us a visual reference for the stories you’ve been relating. I am loving your blog and I happily am boosting you on Twitter whenever I can… I never tire of seeing your photo journals – especially the food!! I think I’d be swimming in smiles as large as the moon if I were to visit Japan and dine on their eclectic foods!! Oohh my, you’ve made me hanker for more than one specialty of theirs! Especially as I never knew you could make alternatives to tofu or how there are cleverly small portions of veg delights I’d love to sample!

    Thanks for continuing to give us such a warm and thoughtful insight into the country which has rejuvenated your spirit and lit a flame of joy in your imagination!

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