Part 1 — Match the same
March is a total weirdo in Greece. It can rain under bright sun and freeze you to death in the afternoon after a warm morning. That’s why a traditional proverb describes March with nothing but merciless, gruesome adjectives e.g. scalper and fire-starter. The winter has not backed down yet, but sunlight presents its strength by painting red marks on your face! For this reason, throughout March we wear bracelets made from red and white thread, which supposedly protects from sunburns. Sometimes, this traditional pattern fits well together with small crosses or eye-shaped amulets. After the end of March, you are supposed to tie your bracelet – which is conveniently called ‘March’ – on the feet of the lamb that the family will be roasting on Easter Sunday. Upon my return in Japan, I found lucky fortunes paired with similar red and white thread *omamori* lucky charms. The color choice was interesting, indeed.
Another discovery was related to a famous sightseeing spot in Athens; the tower of the winds or simply ‘Winds’ (‘Aerides’ in Greek). This monument of the Roman era depicts personified all the 8 wind directions. Every wind has different facial characteristics and clothes. I found a similar, yet significantly smaller, tower miniature structure in Mt. Takao near Tokyo. The 8 winds were again different from each other, accompanied by their signature animals, religious artifacts and grimaces.
Part 2 — A.K.A. a visit to Takao
The weather was nice and spring semester had not yet started, so I thought to myself ‘Let’s stretch a bit!’. Mt. Takao (高尾山）is a close and cheap option for a quick hike if you reside in Tokyo. It is also for famous for the Momiji (Maple tree) scenery in Autumn and the Sakura (Cherry tree) scenery in Spring. Almost 600m high – 599.15m to be precise – it takes less than 2 hours to go to the top via the simplest route. Of course, there are more routes provided if you want to explore the area apart from the basic sightseeing spots [see the route map above]. There are temples, waterfalls, observation checkpoints and a lot of trees. It would be wise to avoid it on holidays, considering that it was quite crowded with both tourists and Japanese on a normal weekday. If the sky is clear you can see a lot of mountains plus Fuji, the Enoshima island and Tokyo tower and other landmark building on the opposite side. Although the hike itself is not difficult or anything special, it can be a relaxing break from the city landscape and a picnic opportunity. If you are too bored to do even that, a cable-car or a lift can elevate you up to the approximately the middle of the route, so that you continue from there up. The closest stations to start are 高尾山口-takaosanguchi on Keio line and 高尾山-takaosan on JR line. Enjoy the photo gallery!