A few dozens of minutes from the heart of Tokyo is Takao-san, a mountain which Japanese people have revered for a very long time. They'll refer about it with terms such as "hiking" but for most of us, it's quite a leisurely stroll on a concrete trail, accessible to wheelchairs and with toilets at regular intervals. That doesn't stop some people from equiping themselves as if they were climbing Mount Fuji!
Upon arriving at Takaosanguchi station, a few minutes walk will take you to the start of the climb. Mount Takao offers a choice of seven main tracks, the first being the easiest (the one we were talking about earlier). Even without being good at sports or cardio, it takes less than two hours to get to the top, and one hour to 1h30 for the descent.
To help you further, two means of transportation can get you past the first part of the rather steep trail: the cable-car or the lift. It will take an extra 470¥ (one-way) or 900¥ (return) for one as for the other.
We chose track number 6 to climb completely in nature, surrounded only by mountain and forest, with no one to spoil anything. The atmosphere was very pleasant and sometimes mystical, thanks to these great trees whose roots pave trails (including beautiful cedars) and a few discrete Buddhist or Shinto small temples.
Shortly before arriving at the summit of Mount Takao, all paths come together before joining this great platform, about six hundred meters above sea level, which offers a breathtaking view of Tokyo, Yokohama up to Fuji-san under good weather. Unfortunately this was not our case, but at the end of the momiji season, we could still admire some beautiful red maple trees. Be careful not plan your Takao-san climb during weekend to escape the crowd.
Here is also a short timelapse video, which I shot on the platform:
There are many places to rest, enjoy a picnic or just sit down and admire the view, as well as shops and restaurants. Going back down, if you haven't seen it based on the chosen path, you have to go through Yakunoin temple and admire the Tengus, gods of the mountain.
How to get to Mount Takao
By train -- From Shinjuku:
- Keio line: 50 minute on "rapid" trains or until 1h30 on "local" trains, ¥370 / ~US$ 3.30
- JR Chuo line: 52 minutes + transfer time at Takao station, ¥660 / ~US$ 6.00 without JR Pass (or JR Pass + ¥120 / ~US$ 1.10)
Location reachable with the JRP : order your Japan Rail Pass (from ~US$ 272)
Cable car or Lift car :
- ¥470 (~US$ 4.30) one-way
- or ¥900 (~US$ 8.10) return
Climbing access is never closed but not recommended overnight without preparation and / or in case of too harsh weather conditions.
Cable car and Lift car operate from 8/9am to 5/6pm depending on the season (see schedule on the official website)
How long / when to visit
Allow a short day from Tokyo or even a good afternoon for quick hikers
Avoid weekends and holidays because of the crowd
Best season: fall (koyo)
Weather in Tokyo
5 / 10°C
7 / 12°C
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Official website (in English)