Mount Takao is one of the most popular mountains in the Tokyo suburbs. It is well-known for its variety of trails that even casual hikers can climb. However, you don't necessarily have to hike the mountain in order to enjoy it. There are many attractive spots to visit near the bottom of the mountain, within a five-minute walk from the station!
1. The Modern Art Aesthetic of the Remodeled Station Building
The building for Keio Railway Takaosanguchi station was reopened in April 2015. It was designed by the world famous architect, Kengo Kuma, who also worked on the Kabuki-za theater and KITTE, a commercial facility in Tokyo.
The design of the building prioritizes a harmony with nature and fits well into the scenery of the area. The rooftop was inspired by the Takao-san Yakuou-in temple, which has been worshiped since the ancient times. The row of cedars at Mt. Takao, designated a natural monument by the Tokyo Metropolitan government, is one of the famous spots around the mountain, and is praised for its use of Japanese cedar trees and masterful wood craftsmanship.
2. Kaede: A Shop Filled with Cute Goods
Kaede reopened along with the train station, and can be found by turning right outside of the ticket gate. Its location just outside the ticket gate places it in the optimal location to provide mountain climbers with the necessary tools and provisions before they start their trip. They also carry desirable souvenirs like one-of-a-kind cups with the Mt. Takao logo.
- Address Takaosanguchi Station, Takaomachi, Hachioji-shi, Tokyo, 193-0844
3. The Refined TAKAO 599 MUSEUM
The well-trimmed lawns and glass sides of the large Japanese building that is home to the beautiful TAKAO 599 MUSEUM can be found by continuing from Takaosanguchi Station to the Kiyotaki cable car station, crossing the intersection, and going along the road that heads to the shrine. The museum presents the incredible ecosystem of Mt. Takao from a fresh perspective, and is a renovation of the former Takao Natural Science Museum. It opened its doors as a place that preserved the elements of a museum, and added the comfortable atmosphere of a park. There is no charge for admission.
The main exhibit called Nature Collection is displayed upon sixteen, impressive, pure-white stands. On those stands, flowers and plants that inhabit Mt. Takao are enclosed in acrylic resin containers for display. In addition, insects are shown via stop motion displays. All the exhibits on display are amazingly vivid and artistic. If insects aren't your cup of tea, you will still be able to enjoy their beauty here in an artistic sense.
Another highlight is the Nature Wall, which is a cutting-edge installation of motion pictures. Stuffed and mounted animals collected by the former museum such as the Japanese macaque, the red fox, and the Japanese giant flying squirrel are set on a white wall. Projected scenery of Mt. Takao in each of the four seasons is also displayed on that wall by projection mapping technology, showcasing beauty that will easily take your breath away.
The projection movie was created by WOW inc., a visual design studio based in Tokyo, Sendai, and London. The movie depicts the lives of living things, around a tree floating in the center of the wall. The movie is projected at regular intervals, typically once an hour.
Next to the main exhibit, you can enjoy the natural scenery of Mt. Takao through the glass windows at 599CAFE. The high-quality tables and chairs are made from hinoki (Japanese cypress) from the Tama area. Here you also can enjoy treats like Takao's special siphon coffee blend, as well as sweets and snacks like the Parisian hot dog.
One of the popular menu items uses milk delivered directly from Hachioji city's Isonuma Milk Farm known as Miruku no Ougonritsu (Milk's Golden Rule) to create Miruku no Ougonritsu Fromaju Keki (Milk's Golden Rule Cheesecake). The two layers of fresh cheese cream and baked cheese cream are light and fluffy enough to melt on your tongue, and the whole thing tastes too incredible to be real.
At the museum shop 599SHOP, there are plenty of fashionable goods at low prices such as eco-friendly bags with the TAKAO 599 MUSEUM logo mark, wooden rulers made of trees from the Tama area, and stickers. New goods will continue to appear.
4. The 1-day Hot Spring Facility: KeioTakaosan Onsen／Gokurakuyu
Finally, let us introduce you to a one-day onsen (hot spring) facility, Keio Takaosan Onsen, Gokurakuyu, which is next to Takaosanguchi station. The natural hot spring water wells up from about 1,000 meters underground, and is slightly clouded and soft to the touch. The open-air bath made of rocks is divided into two pools that you can choose between: the lukewarm water at 40 degrees Celsius, and the hot water set at 43 degrees Celsius. In this facility, various types of bath are available, where you can enjoy the ever changing scenery of Mt. Takao to your heart's content.
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