Tokyo, being one of the biggest cities in the world, is a definitely a great destination. There are many things to do, to see, and to experience and you will never get bored. But at the same time, the city can be overwhelming from time to time and you find yourself needing a little break from the bustling city life. Mount Takao is a great escape; closely located, a rich nature and a fun activity to do. A visit to Mount Takao is arguably the best day trip to do from Tokyo!
- Mount Takao
- The best time to visit to Mount Takao
- Hiking trails of Mt. Takao
- The MUST-DO’s when visiting Mt. Takao
- How to get to Mount Takao
- Where to stay near Mount Takao
Mount Takao (or Takao-san) is located in Hachioji city, on the west side of Tokyo. It can be easily reached from central Tokyo in just under an hour. Take the Keio Line from Shinjuku Station to Takaosanguchi Station and from there walk to foot of the mountain in about five minutes – depending on how much time you will take to stop at the many restaurants and souvenir shops.
The summit of Mount Takao is located at 599m and there are 7 hiking routes, of which 3 start at the foot of the mountain. Alternatively, you can take the cable car or chair lift up (you will still need to walk a little to the top). More about the routes and the lift below.
Mount Takao has been a sacred place for over 1,000 year and is a known location were Zen meditation, waterfall asceticism and sutra reading was practiced. The mountain is associated with Tengu, one of the Shinto-Buddhist’s God from Japanese folklore. There is a Buddhist temple Takaosan Yakuoin on the mountain, where Tengu is worshiped.
In addition, Takao-san is a three star mountain in the Michelin Travel Guide and designated as one of the nature parks in Tokai nature trail, Japan’s flagship hiking trail. This trail spans 11 prefectures for a total distance of almost 1.700 km from Tokyo to Mino city in Osaka prefecture. It passes many tourist attractions, great nature spots and precious historical cultural assets.
The best time to visit to Mount Takao
Mount Takao is a great destination all year round, though spring and autumn are most popular due to its beautiful colours. In springtime, you can see approximately 1.000 cherry blossoms in full bloom at the Itchodaira area, about 10 minutes away from summit of Mt. Takao. If you can visit Mt. Takao in April, you are in for a treat!
Autumn is also great for visiting, when the temperature is cooling down and the koyo viewing kicks off. The mountain will turn into a sea of red, orange and yellow leaves, a stunning sight.
Hiking trails of Mt. Takao
There are two ways to get to the top of the mountain, but both involve some walking. At the foot of the mountain, you can choose between three hiking trails. In total there are seven different trails available on the mountain. All the trails have plenty of sights along the way to the summit, including a monkey park and temple, as well as views of Tokyo to admire and, once you get to the top, Mount Fuji can be spotted on a clear day!
The other option is taking the cablecar or chair lift that lead halfway up the mountain. A one way trip will cost you ¥490 yen and the price for a round trip is ¥950.
Making your way to the top it is 100% worth the effort – or your money, whichever way you decide to go. Below is the route information including some of the highlights along the way, none of routes take more than two hours.
Trail 1 – Omotesando trail
The Omotesando trail is the basic course and also the most busy one. The trail is mainly paved and passes all the main sightseeing spots including The Monkey Park, the Wild Plant Garden, cedar street, Tako sugi and Takao-san Yakuo-in Temple. This Shingon-Buddhism temple is known as a place for mountain worship and flourished as a place for mountain ascetic practice. Even today, you can experience waterfall training – standing under waterfall to train and clarify your mind and body.
Timing: 100 minutes
Trail 2 – Kasumidai Loop trail
This loop circles around the monkey park and the big Japanese cedar tree Tako Sugi. Tako no Sugi translates into “octopus cedar”, but originally means that the roots of tree looks like legs of octopus. It is said to bring luck!
Timing: 40 minutes
Trail 3 – Katsura Forest Trail
The starting point of this trail is half way of the mountain, on the left side of Joshin gate, the first gate you pass through when you took trail 1. The trail passed through the forrest and is named after the many Katsura mountains.
Timing: 60 minutes
Trail 4 – Suspension Bridge Trail
On the other, the right, side of the the Joshin gate, starts trail 4. This trail also goes through the forrest and generally many bird sounds are heard. One of the special parts of this trail is the suspension bridge, the only one in Mt. Takao.
Timing: 50 minutes
Trail 5 – Summit Loop Trail
This is an easy walk just beneath the summit with not much difference in height. You can see lots of cedars en route and in spring, enjoy the various kinds of flowers here.
Timing: 30 minutes
Trail 6 – Biwa Waterfall Trail
The Biwa Waterfall trail takes you along the mountain stream and you can feel the freshness and cool(er) air even in summer. While making your way to the summit, you can enjoy bird watching and hear the sound of nature. This trail is also called the trail of water because hikers can see monks going through ascetic trainings at Biwa Waterfall, even in mid-winter. More experienced hikers prefer this rough(er) trail, also because it avoids hiking under the direct sunlight.
Timing: 100 minutes
Trail 7 – Inariyama Trail
This is the most difficult route of all, with its starting point right next to the cable car station (left side). On the way, you can find observatory with an amazing view of Tokyo. Although being the most difficult and steepest of all, this trail is fairly busy with more experienced hikers.
Timing: 100 minutes
The easy way up is taking the cable car, it is relaxing ride up the mountain with a great view of the lush greenery. This cable car has the steepest incline in Japan. If you are not feeling active or you’re in a rush, save some time. There are still some steps to take before you get to the summit though!
8am – 5.15pm ~ 6.30pm
¥480 (one way)
¥930 (round trip)
Guided Hike up Mount Takao
Mount Takao can easily be climbed by yourself, it is safe and the signage is good. Though, if you are interested in learning more about the environment and Japan, we recommend to consider booking a guided hike. The guide will pick you up at the hotel, travel with you to Takao-san and explain everything about the things you encounter on the way, the beautiful shrines, the history etc.
The MUST-DO’s when visiting Mt. Takao
We suggest you climb your way to the top op Mount Takao, taking trail number 7. Although this trail being described as the hardest, it is still manageable. Just take your time, bring a towel and water. The views on the way will be worth it! On the way down take some other trails that are less busy like trail 4. You will enjoy the scenery and the sounds of nature! Other thing we recommend you are:
- Visit the Tako Sugi, the Japanese cedar tree, to gain power and luck.
- Eat Tororo (grated yam) Soba, either at the top, along the way or at the foot of the mountain. With many restaurants you won’t struggle finding a place to eat lunch.
- Go to Takaosan Yakuoin temple and pray for Tengu.
- Reward yourself with some fresh ice cream after your descend, you deserved it!
The best time to make your way to the top it early morning, watching the sunset at the top is a truly amazing experience. It is also the most quiet time at the top, if you’re lucky you might have the view all for yourself!
If you are up for it, we also suggest you visit the area around Takao station, there are many delicious snacks available al the many food stalls and restaurants and a relaxing onsen. In spring, this area is also a great sakura viewing spot from the end of March till April, especially Korakuji, only 5 minutes away from the station by foot. In February to March, you can enjoy the 10,000+ plum blossoms in Baigo area, a 15 min away on foot.
How to get to Mount Takao
As mentioned before, Mount Takao is very easy to access from central Tokyo. The closest station to the mountain is Takaosanguchi station, which can be reached from Shinjuku station in less than an hour. Take the Keio Line that gets you there for ¥390.
From the station, walk for 5 minutes to get to the starting point of the hiking trails or the cable car/ chair lift station.
Note: Takao station is NOT the closest station to Mt. Takao!
Where to stay near Mount Takao
You can do one day trip to Mt. Takao but if you want to stay around Takao area, we recommend the following hotels.
Mount Takao really is a place that has it all; stunning views, hiking trails, fun activities for everyone and delicious food. Add the beautiful colours in both spring and autumn and the close proximity to Tokyo and you can understand why it is a attractive day trip. Mount Takao is a very popular place in Japan and every year about 3 million people make their way to the top. Why not spend a day exploring the wilds of one of Tokyo’s best-loved mountains?
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