Night-climbing Mount Tsukuba on New Year’s day

A large bonfire just before the trail to the summit where people could warm themselves up.

Today being New Year’s day, I thought I might post another memorable climb of Mount Tsukuba that I did with my friend Chelo some years back.

I had done the same night-climb “solo” a few years before this. One New Year’s day around 2AM, I drove to the parking lot of Mount Tsukuba halfway to the top thinking what a lonely thing it would be climbing a mountain at that ungodly hour. I shouldn’t have worried, because there were so many people there was a 30-minute wait just to get inside the parking lot.

That day I went with Chelo was no different. There were lots of people everywhere: around Tsukuba Shrine, on the cable cars, even on the hiking trail itself.

People lining up in front of Tsukuba Shrine for the Hatsumode.

It was still dark just when we got to the summit, which was good because it would soon fill up with people.

At the summit, we looked down the sleeping city below us while waiting for the sunrise.

Soon every space was taken but we probably had the best seat, having arrived earlier than most everybody else. The downside was we had to sit our asses on freezing rock for many hours.

The place was so packed there were even people in the trees. If you want to get away from the crowds, this is not the time to do it.

The landscape just before sunrise.

And then just like that, the sun broke through the horizon.

Time to take pictures.

We were carrying bulky SLRs and we found it amusing that people were talking pictures with their phones–which we would do too after a few years.

A woman takes her first photos of the sunrise from the summit of Mount Tsukuba.

And a man with only a tank top on soaking up the first sunlight of the new year.

The crowd began to disperse after the sunrise–everybody has the whole year ahead them.