My hometown is located in the Kanto region of central Honshu. It’s not too far from Tokyo but it’s a typical rural city where farming is still one of the major industries.
The whole area including my hometown is called Kanto Plain. The land is flat and there are many rivers. The middle west of the Kanto Plain is especially good for producing rice.
It’s a beautiful autumn day. I walk down the long slope near my parents’ house to the rice paddies. After crossing an old, steel bridge, flat land extends in front of me. Golden rice paddies are waiting for the harvest.
Rising over the paddies is Mount Tsukuba. At 877 metres, it’s not that high, but it always sticks out in this level area. Without the mountain, the landscape would be monotonous.
The combination of a small mountain and glistening rice fields is my favorite view. I sometimes dream I could go back to that very spot.
Mount Tsukuba’s profile changes depending on where you stand. I especially love the view from near my parents’ house because the beautiful peaks are clear.
If there were no mountain, what would be the nostalgic landmark of my hometown?
The many names of a mountain giant
Mount Tsukuba is known as a spiritual mountain. Naturally, there are some famous old stories. Daidara-Botchi, the name of a famous giant, is the central figure in all the stories.
If you have seen the Japanese anime movie Princess Mononoke, maybe you remember the name of a giant called Deidara-Botchi. The story was created by the movie maker Hayao Miyazaki. He used the name Deidara-Botchi for a god or monster of mountains. Some people heard this name for the first time from the movie but it was already well known from ancient times.
There are many stories about Daidara-Botchi all over Japan. The giant also has many different names including Deidara-Botchi, Daidara-Bou and Didara-Botchi. The name changes slightly depending on location. Most of the time the name is found in ancient mountain stories.
Mount Tsukuba’s Giant
A long time ago, Daidara-Botchi wanted to compare the weight of Mount Fuji and Mount Tsukuba. These two mountains are over 200km apart, but for a huge giant, this was not a problem.
Daidara-Botchi stood between the mountains and found a long stick. Reaching it between the tallest points of each mountain, he held the stick firm and dangled ropes to the peaks.
When he heaved the stick upwards, Mount Fuji stayed firm while Mount Tsukuba flew into the air. Shortly after, the rope on Mount Tsukuba broke and the mountain crashed to the ground! The mighty mountain cracked and two peaks were created. The two summits are still clearly visible today.
This is the most famous story about Mount Tsukuba and Daidara-Botchi.
But the story I know is totally different.