Weeping wisteria, beautiful shrines and a brisk hike up a few mountain trails in lovely Tochigi.
Ashikaga has more than enough cultural destinations, including several shrines and a famous flower garden, to be on any serious traveler’s checklist. But, there are other appeals that lie upwards in the mountains, too. Just 15 minutes on foot from Ashikaga station, this mountain trail is intense, yet satisfying for any nature seeker.
Ashikaga, a city of about 150,000 people, has the main attraction of Ashikaga Flower Park a bit outside of city center, but here are some more things to keep you busy while in the area.
Start with shrines
From Ashikaga station, make your way northwest to Jonen-ji Temple where the trail begins. On the way, you can check out Banna-ji Temple, a Japanese national treasure, located in a very lovely park area. You can also seek out the old Ashikaga School, which is a nationally designated historical landmark.
Once you’ve finished your walking tour of central Ashikaga, it’s time to ascend Mount Tengu. The trail peaks at this mountain as well as a second neighboring mountain called Mount Ryogai. Climbing both mountains takes about 2.5 hours for the average hiker.
The trail is steep but ends relatively quickly. You can take a left on the way (You’ll see a sign.) to take a rest at a beautiful lookout point from where can see Mount Fuji on a clear day. Otherwise, you should reach Mount Tengu peak after an hour, and Mount Ryogai after another 30 minutes. Don’t forget to take a snapshot of Ashikaga city from while taking sever much-deserved breathers.
Treasure at the trail’s end
As you descend Mount Ryogai, you’ll want to make sure you are heading to Orihime Shrine, which is the final stop of this hike. After about an hour or less from the peak of Ryogai, you’ll find yourself in front of a large, bright vermilion shrine. There’s also a nearby park, which features wisteria trellises in the spring and lotus flowers in the summer.
Orihime, or the “Weaving Goddess,” is named for the fact that Ashikaga is famous for textile manufacturing. If you’re not exhausted from the hike, there are still many things to discover in this little city in the mountains of Tochigi. Go see for yourself!
Check out more parks and gardens all over Japan.