Mount Tsukuba: The Mysterious Twin Peaks *RERUN
Mount Tsukuba is located in Ibaraki Prefecture, about 70 km northeast from Tokyo. The Japanese have revered the mountain since ancient times, as a sacred mountain akin to Mount Fuji. The mountain has a height of 877 meters. Mount Tsukuba, called Tsukuba-san in Japanese, is popular with visitors as anyone can easily climb it. More than 2 million people visit a year. From the old days, it has been believed that a mysterious force dwells in this mountain. In this episode, we present the story of Mount Tsukuba, a sacred mountain rich in mysterious charm.

A Mountain for Lovers

Mount Tsukuba has twin peaks. A Female Deity is enshrined on the eastern peak, and a Male Deity on the western peak. The mountain has always been believed to have special powers for bringing men and women together. There is a rock called "Bujo-ga-ishi," which symbolizes a husband and wife. Between the 7th and 8th century, young men and women gathered here to have feasts, looking for marriage partners. Today, young people come to the mountain to receive some of this ancient power of romance. Young people looking for a partner attend "hiking for singles," hoping many will become sweet couples on this hike.

Traditional Medicine Peddlers

There is a traditional peddling act for selling an ointment called "Gama no Abura" or "Toad's Oil." It is a potion advertised as being made from greasy sweat of toads that live only in Tsukuba, with a special efficacy that can immediately cure any kind of cut. This performance is said to have started more than 200 years ago. The witty narrative of the act, and the trick of healing the cut arm immediately amused the masses during an era when there was little entertainment. The act eventually became a traditional performing art of Tsukuba. Now there is a society for the preservation of this performance, which holds an annual test to recruit new performers.

The Magic Spice

Autumn is the harvest time for a mandarin orange, unique to the region in the foothills of Mount Tsukuba. It is the "Fukure Mikan," a mandarin which has a strong acidity and aroma, and is used as an ingredient for the local specialty, "Shichimi," a Japanese spice mixture. Red peppers, black and white sesame seeds, seaweed, and plenty of crushed mandarin peel. Mix all these together and you have the Mount Tsukuba specialty: "Shichimi," a magic spice that makes any food more delicious, made from the natural blessings of Mount Tsukuba.