Mount Takao Japan – Tokyo is a modern city for which I have a particular fondness, but sometimes I just need a change of scenery and a good breath of fresh air. There many hiking spots just a few hours from Tokyo where you can relax and enjoy the natural environment around you. If you’re thinking about heading south, Kamakura and Hakone would be great destinations. Nikko would also be great if you’d rather go north.
But this time we’re heading east to climb Mount Takao, which is less than an hour away from Tokyo. Here’s how you can get there.
How To Get There?
If you just want to enjoy your trip without having to bother planning everything out, finding the right train or looking for the best hiking route, you can visit Mount Takao with a guide who will do that for you throughout the whole trip. The tour will take the whole day to complete and you can book yours here.
If you can manage more of an improvised trip, you will need to go to Shinjuku Station and take the Keio Line to Takaosanguchi Station.
As you can see, the train trip lasts a little less than an hour and costs 390 yen, which is about $3.5. FYI, the double arrow in the route shown above means you don’t have to get off the train at Kitano. Wondering why they would make the distinction ? It’s just that the lines are different. The first one is the Keio Line and the second is the Keio Takao Line but it’s the same train basically. I hope I didn’t make things confusing for you. 😀
By the way, these lines are not JR lines so the trip cannot be covered by your JR Pass.
Where To Stay?
If you fall in love with Mount Takao and decide to stay the night, I recommend you book a room at Kougetsu Sanso which is an old Japanese-style villa located a few miles away from Mount Takao. It’s actually near the city of Hachioji, minutes away from Mount Takao. It definitely has a traditional ryokan feel to it with tatami floor mats and futon bedding, not to mention the astounding forest setting.
If you prefer to spend the night in Tokyo, have a look at these posts where you can find great accommodation recommendations that fit your budget:
Without further ado, let’s conquer Mount Takao and discover the different hiking trails available.
Mount Takao – Plan Your Hike
Once you arrive at Takaosanguchi Station, you have to plan your hike by choosing the trail that best suits you, taking into consideration the amount of effort and time you think you’ll need to go up and down Mount Takao. But don’t go climbing just yet! There’s a beautiful sanctuary right next to the train station you can have a look at!
Choosing a hiking trail shouldn’t be very complicated. You will be given very useful maps that you can pick up at the station and that will have descriptions of each trail along with estimations of the necessary hiking time. Here is a link where you can check the different trails and choose the one that suits you: Mount Takao Map.
As you can see, it takes about an hour and a half to two hours to get from Takaosanguchi Station to the mountaintop, so basically just under 4 km of very light walking.
Mount Takao – The Cable Car Trip
If you don’t have time to do all the trekking and you’d like to save time for other activities, you can try the cable car that will take you to Takao-san Station. A one-way trip costs 480 yen (about $4) and the round trip costs 930 yen (about $8). The trip lasts about 6 minutes and from 8AM to 6PM, there is a car that makes it halfway up and back every 15 minutes.
By the way, Mount Takao’s cable car climbs the steepest (31.18 degree-angle) slope of all Japan!
Mount Takao – A Very Refreshing Hike
Hiking to Mount Takao is a popular activity among locals and tourists alike. And despite the fact that it was rather crowded when I went there, I really enjoyed the experience. Also, the surrounding forests are home to flying squirrels, which is awesome! You will often come across references to these squirrels during your hike so keep your eyes open and maybe you’ll spot one!
You will also come across century-old trees, most of them cedar tress, which are sometimes decorated with a rope to show that they are sacred.
Small temples and lanterns here and there will guide you to the top of the mountain. There are food stalls along the way too so you won’t find yourself needing anything. Enjoy your hike!
Mount Takao – Yakuoin Temple and Tengu
As you get closer to the mountain top, you will come across the Buddhist temple Yakuoin which was built in 744 following Emperor Shomu’s orders. You can spot some plum blossoms in several photos and that’s because I was there in March, right in time for Ume Matsuri, which literally means the plum blossom festival. This time of year, right before sakura season, is one of my favorite to visit Japan.
There are also many tengu inside the temple. Tengu are long-nosed, red-skinned demons that protect temple worshipers. You can read more about tengu in this blog post on the Furubira festival in Hokkaido.
Don’t forget to hit these good luck rings before you leave. You’ll probably need to line up to do that so wait your turn if it’s really important for you to hear that ringing!
A few very beautiful buildings later, you will finally reach the Yakuoin temple, which is a remarkable red-painted wooden structure.
On The Mountaintop
You’re finally there! Mount Takao is about 600 meters above water level, and if these kids could make it, you can do it too! You will find restaurants where you can eat while enjoying the beautiful view.
In clear weather conditions, you should be able to see Mount Fuji from up there. Unfortunately, there were too many clouds that day so I couldn’t see it.
That’s it, guys! That’s all you need to know about Mount Takao so get yourselves up there if you need to get out of Tokyo’s hecticness without having to travel too far.
See you around,
PS: For more travel tips about Tokyo, read this article too: Best things to do in Tokyo.