The hike down to the cable car station from Nyotai-san was fairly quick. Going down hill is obviously a lot less work, but not a free ride and one needs to watch one's footing. We got to the station about ten minutes ahead of the next cable car - they run every twenty minutes - and were first in line. This allowed us to stand in the front of the car for the best view (or to be the first to die in case the cable broke). Shooting pictures through the glass was a bit of trouble and the lower lighting of late afternoon didn't help matters. The camera was taking a long time to respond to my finger on the shutter button.
As we descended I explained the mechanics of cable cars to K, how the two cars balance each other's weight and make the work of moving them up and down the mountain much easier for the motor at the top station, and so on. As the slope increased to 33 percent, and we plunged into the tunnel, I wondered to myself how effective brakes would be freewheeling down the mountainside on smooth rails. I mean, they aren't that effective on level ground. The song "Wreck of the Old 97" came to mind and I could hear Box Car Willie's voice singing "she was goin' down the grade making 90 miles an hour..." Shortly thereafter, we approached the half way point where the track splits and we passed the upward bound car with mere centimeters to spare! Well, OK, so it was a lot of centimeters, but I wouldn't want to be standing between them.
As the gods of the mountain would have it, the red and green cable cars did not exchange any paint and we arrived safely at the bottom station. I wanted to take a picture of the cable car with K in front of it (well not right in front of it - I wasn't going to tie her to the tracks or anything), so we hung around and enjoyed the momiji trees by the station.
When the cable car started up the mountain I had K stand where I could get a clear shot and...and....and....the *%$# camera would not respond. I kept telling her to move a little this way, a little that, as I tried to frame the picture while the cable car moved, I moved, and the camera failed to obey my commands.
A couple of hundred more steps down and we arrived back at Tsukuba Jinja (Shrine). K spotted a sign that led us under an elevated walkway connecting the offices to the main building. There was a small pond with a spring supplying water through a bamboo pipe, and steps leading back up the mountain side. Oh, no, thank you! I've had my quota of climbing steps for the day. K followed them up and disappeared into the woods, while I waited below. She found a small shrine dedicated to people seeking a job promotion. If she doesn't get a promotion now, don't blame us if bad things happen to her employers.
So at last, we retrieved the car and began the journey home. Up close, Tsukuba-san turned out to be much different than I had expected from a distance, as so many things in life do. Having made its acquaintance, I'd like to return someday, spend more time, do more hiking, and experience some of its many aspects that we missed.