Night-climbing Mount Tsukuba on New Year’s day

Bonfire just below the summit of Mount Tsukuba
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.

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

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

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

The best seat on Mount Tsukuba
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.

People on trees on Mount Tsukuba
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.

Mount Tsukuba landscape just before sunrise
The landscape just before sunrise.

Sunrise on Mount Tsukuba
And then just like that, the sun broke through the horizon.

Sunrise on Mount Tsukuba
Time to take pictures.

Taking pictures with flip-phones on Mount Tsukuba
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.

Woman taking pictures on Mount Tsukuba
A woman takes her first photos of the sunrise from the summit of Mount Tsukuba.

Man contemplating the future on Mount Tsukuba
And a man with only a tank top on soaking up the first sunlight of the new year.

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