Mount Takao, conveniently close to Tokyo, is a popular day-trip destination for locals seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city. It boasts a fascinating scenery that is especially stunning in autumn, gentle hiking routes that are perfect for casual climbers, and a recommendation by the prestigious Michelin Green Guide Japan.
From cherry blossoms in spring to the vivid foliage colors in autumn, let’s explore Mount Takao and all its fun aspects, including beer, hot springs, and even Mount Fuji!
12:00 P.M. – Just an Hour Away from Central Tokyo! Fill Your Lungs with Fresh Air!
It takes about one hour on the Keio Semi Special Express to get to Takaosanguchi Station at the foot of the mountain. The Takaosanguchi Station building even won the Good Design Award in 2016 for its beautiful wooden exterior. After a 5-minute walk, we arrive at the cable car at Kiyotaki Station, which will take us to an altitude of 472 meters.
There are three ways to get up Mount Takao: the cable car, the chairlift, and good old walking. The cable car is the fastest option with about 6 minutes, while the chairlift takes around 12 minutes. Climbing the mountain on foot is a 1-hour hike. We decided to take the cable car.
By the way—we visited Mount Takao in mid-July and wore a T-shirt, jeans, sneakers, and a hat for our hiking trip. It’s a casual outfit because Mount Takao is a gentle hike, but we still recommend something that is comfortable and easy to walk in. Even if you use the chairlift or cable car, try to avoid sandals and heels. Mount Takao is also a few degrees cooler than Tokyo, so bringing a light jacket or windbreaker is always a good idea.
- Address 2205 Takaomachi, Hachiōji-shi, Tōkyō-to 193-0844
Cable Car Hours:
June 15 to October 15: 8:00 a.m. (first) – 9:15 p.m. (last)
*The cars depart every 15 minutes.
*Outside the above hours, the last car departs between 5:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
One-way adult: 480 yen
One-way children: 240 yen
Round-trip adult: 930 yen
Round-trip children: 460 yen
*Tax included. The chairlift costs the same.
*See the official website for further details.
12:30 P.M. – Let’s Hike! Trail #1 is Full of Sights!
The hike to the 599-meter high summit takes about 40 minutes from the Takaosan cable car station. There are six hiking trails in total and each of them has different levels of difficulty. We’ll be taking the main route also called Omotesando course (“temple approach”), Trail #1.
The main trail also boasts plenty of sights, such as the Mt Takao Monkey Park & Wildflower Garden, the massive tree called Takosugi, and tea houses. It’s a casual route that won’t tire you out but instead entertain you with a myriad of sightseeing spots. Should you still feel a bit exhausted, feel free to take a break at the many benches and photo spots that dot the course. It’s a comfortable and fun hiking experience even for first-timers.
12:40 p.m. – The Path Forks! Which Way to Go?
After a short while, you’ll be confronted with a choice: to go left, or right? Don’t worry, though, as this is not a fateful decision but merely two different ways to get to the top. The steep way up (on the left) features 108 steps, mimicking the 108 earthly desires of Buddhism, while the slope (on the right) is a gentler climb and leads around the stupa on the hill instead of right to it. Without hesitation, we said no to the stairs! However, if you’re up for the challenge, try it by all means. The stupa at the top boasts stunningly beautiful autumn scenery.
Further back, the two paths merge again. This is a good spot to take a break and enjoy a sesame rice cake dumpling. There are as many snacks and temptations as there are charming teahouses!
1:00 P.M. – Plenty of Power Spots: Up Your Luck!
After about 20 more minutes, you’ll arrive at Takaosan Yakuoin Temple. This historic temple was founded by Emperor Shomu in 744, over 1,260 years ago! Mount Takao is famous for its tengu legends and tengu faith, a legendary creature with a long nose and bird wings. You’re actually welcomed by two such tengu as soon as you pass the temple’s gate.
We clean our hands at the water basin, after Japanese worship fashion. Then, we bow at the foot of the steps once and proceed to the main hall.
Next to visiting the shrine, make sure to look for the many power spots on the precincts. They’re said to bestow good fortune upon everyone who visits and one of the main charms of Yakuoin Temple. Take your time and leisurely explore the temple grounds for an extra serving of good luck!
Other power spots are the Aizen Hall, said to enhance your fortune in marriage, and the “hall of the eight dragon kings” rumored to enhance your monetary fortune. Make sure to thoroughly explore!
1:30 P.M. – Hiking to the Summit and Looking Over the Kanto Area from 599 Meters Up Above!
The summit is like a park, crowded with people enjoying cherry blossoms and autumn leaves in their respective season. The Takao Visitor Center sits right in the middle, offering free magazines, events, plants, and animals—everything about Mount Takao. There even are free diaporamas and guided tours, so make sure to stop by.
- Address 2176 Takaomachi, Hachiōji-shi, Tōkyō-to 193-0844
- Phone Number 042-661-3881
Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
After recharging your energies with a hearty meal, we decided to start our descend via the same trail. Near the summit is also a toilet that’s slightly larger than the other ones, make use of it. By the way—it’s common courtesy to pack up any trash that you have and take it back down with you.
There are several trails leading back down, such as Trail #4 with its suspension bridge or Trail #3 leading through a deep, evergreen forest. Choose your route according to your stamina, mood, or what you want to see! Either of them is a bit more challenging than Trail #1.
2:30 P.M. – Visiting the Monkeys at the Monkey Park
While we took about an hour to get to the summit, the descent is faster. That’s why we decided to stop by the Mount Takao Monkey Park & Wildflower Garden. In spring 2017, seven monkey babies were born here.
The park is inhabited by about 70 monkeys and seven little babies were born in spring of 2017. The monkeys living here do not do tricks, they’re not disciplined, they just go about their monkey lives naturally. Apart from their annual health check, they’re pretty much left alone and lead a low-stress life, responsible for their own co-existence.
Mount Takao Monkey Park & Wildflower Garden高尾山 さる園・野草園
- Address 2179 Takaomachi, Hachiōji-shi, Tōkyō-to 193-0844
- Phone Number 042-661-2381
December to February: 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
March to April: 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
May to November: 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Admission: 420 yen (junior high and older),
3:00 P.M. – Enjoy the Beautiful View with a Frosty Beer!
As we were heading down, we noticed that Takao Beer Mount had opened. The beer garden right next to Takaosan Station and only open from June to October, sitting inside an observatory at 500-meter altitude. It’s a genuine Mount Takao summer tradition.
The beer garden offers three types of seats: the garden seats surrounded by greenery, the slab seats at the highest point, and the indoor hall seats boasting a great panorama view. No matter which seats you choose, the 2-hour all-you-can-drink plan costs 3,800 yen for men and 3,600 yen for women (tax included).
Both the food and the drink selection is rich in variety, so order to your heart’s desire. The pizza is baked in a proper stone oven while beer from four Japanese brands is available. On top of that, cocktails, wine, sake, shochu, and soft drinks make for additional flavor variety.
Takao Beer Mount高尾山ビアマウント
- Address 2205 Takaomachi, Hachiōji-shi, Tōkyō-to 193-0844
- Phone Number 042-665-9943
Period: June 15 to October 15, 2018
Hours: 1:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Menu: All-you-can-drink, all-you-can-eat buffet for 2 hours
Price: 3,800 yen for men, 3,600 yen for women, 3,300 yen for high school students, 2,500 yen for junior high students, 1,500 yen for elementary students, 500 yen for children 3 or older (tax included)
*There is an extension fee if you stay over 2 hours. 500 yen on weekdays per 30 minutes, 1,000 yen on the weekend/national holidays per 30 minutes
5:30 P.M. – Relaxing in the Natural Hot Spring After the Hike
After making the most out of the beer garden and its buffet, let’s take the cable car down to the foot of Mount Takao. Next up is relaxation at Keio Takaosan Onsen Gokurakuyu and its natural hot spring. It’s right next to the station.
The natural water gushes forth from roughly 1,000 meters underground, flowing right into open-air stone baths, cypress baths, open-air carbonic acid baths, and more—seven baths in total for both men and women.
The entire facility is nice and clean, so don’t hesitate to walk around barefoot to refresh your feet after the long hike. Store any large bags or backpacks in the unusually large lockers, allowing you to enjoy the bathing experience hands-free.
After a proper soak, why not treat yourself to a nice massage at the spa? (9:00 a.m. – 10:30 p.m., last admission at 10:00 p.m.) Or savor Mount Takao’s local specialties at the restaurant (9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., last order), making the most out of your trip to the very end.
The restaurant has two private rooms, offering space even for larger groups. A lot of people experience Mount Takao and hold a banquet in one go. Far away from the hustle and bustle of the city, this spa is sure to revitalize you with nature and hot springs!
Soaking leisurely in the hot spring makes all the exhaustion of the hike disappear...
Keio Takaosan Onsen Gokurakuyu京王高尾山温泉 / 極楽湯
- Address 2229-7 Takaomachi, Hachiōji-shi, Tōkyō-to 193-0844
- Phone Number 042-663-4126
Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. (last admission at 10:00 p.m.)
Admission: 1,000 yen for adults, 500 yen for children (4 to elementary school), free for children 3 and younger
*1,200 yen for adults and 600 yen for children from January 1 to 3, during Golden Week, and from November 1 to 30.
Closed: open every day (irregular holidays for inspection, etc.)
*See the homepage for details.
7:00 P.M. – Returning to Tokyo
Hiking, beer, and hot springs—a perfect day trip! Just one hour away from central Tokyo, Mount Takao is an amazing destination to enjoy lush nature apart from the usual hustle and bustle. It’s close enough for even a spontaneous visit in the afternoon! There’s really no reason not to go see Mount Takao and its many beautiful sights.
Cherry blossoms in spring, forest bathing in summer, and vivid colors in autumn. No matter when you visit, Mount Takao is sure to become one of your favorite memories of your trip to Japan!
*This article is from 2017. Shops shown in pictures may have changed.
Top image credit: MMpai / Shutterstock.com
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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