Mt. Takao is a popular tourist destination with sights and activities that can be enjoyed by visitors of all ages. Sightseers from both Japan and abroad can go hiking, tour temples, and enjoy gourmet meals on and around this much-beloved mountain. Here are 15 reasons why you'll want to add this top attraction to your Tokyo bucket list!
1. Wrap yourself in natural beauty only about an hour from Tokyo
Mt. Takao in Hachioji City is about one hour from downtown Tokyo on the Keio or JR Lines. From the foot of Mt. Takao, you can easily reach the top in about 40 minutes using a cable car or a lift. It’s also a popular hiking spot where you can fully enjoy a mountain day trip.
2. A tourist spot that has won three Michelin stars
Mt. Takao is rated as a “must see” in the travel guide book “Michelin Green Guide Japon” published by French tire manufacturer Michelin. Other three-star locations include Kyoto, Nara, and Mt. Fuji, so you can see how well-regarded Mt. Takao is as a tourist destination. Despite being close to Tokyo, it’s recognized for its natural splendor.
3. Suitable even for mountain climbing beginners
Cable cars and lifts are available for scaling the mountainside, and at a height of only 599 meters Mt. Takao you can easily enjoy mountain climbing and hiking without planning a complicated expedition.
Even if you are not confident in your physical strength, you can witness beautiful views from the top of the mountain. In particular, beginner-friendly Trail 1 is paved, and has toilets along the way, so it’s similar to walking around the city.
4. Easy access via the cable car and lift
Mt. Takao is equipped with a cable car and a ropeway that run from the base to about halfway up the mountain. The cable car, traveling approximately 1 kilometer from an altitude of 201 meters to 472 meters in about 6 minutes, has the steepest incline among Japan’s cable cars at a grade of 31 degrees, 18 minutes.
Conversely, the lift slowly travels 872 meters in 12 minutes, allowing you to enjoy an “aerial walk” with beautiful trees and scenery all around while feeling a refreshing breeze.
5. Nine hiking courses to choose from
There are nine hiking trails on Mt. Takao that you can choose according to your physical ability and experience.
Trail 1 is popular among beginners and families. Trail 2 is a 40-minute loop near the cable car’s Takaosan Station, and Trail 3 is perfect for taking a casual stroll through nature. Trail 4 crosses a thrilling suspension bridge on its way to the summit, while Trial 5 is a loop around the summit. Trail 6 starts at the base of Mt. Takao and you can hike to the beautiful sound of bird calls on your way to the summit. The trails feature signs along the way with information about the mountain’s plant and animal life.
The Inariyama Trail features a spectacular view, while the Iroha no Mori Trail is a quiet course along the northern slope. The less-traveled Jataki Falls Trail connects to Trail 2 and provided access to the Jataki Waterfall. All are attractive courses, and it's fun to decide which route to take.
6. A magnificent view of Mt. Fuji
Mt. Takao is located on the west side of Tokyo, and offers a spectacular view of the Kanto Plain, Tokyo Bay, and the city center itself. On sunny days in winter, Mt. Fuji is also clearly visible. If you’re lucky, you might be able to witness “Diamond Fuji,” when the sun seems to rest on top of Mt. Fuji like a shining jewel.
In addition to the summit, there are many outstanding scenic spots including panoramic views from the Kasumidai Loop (Trail 2) near the cable car station and observation point on Trail 1.
7. Boost your fortunes at several power spots
Located about halfway up Mt. Takao, Takaosan Yakuoin is a temple with 1,200 years of history is famous for its “power spots.” Any wish made while walking through the “Negai-Kanau-Wa-Kuguri” stone ring is said to come true. A number of hexagonal stone wheels located throughout the complex are said to cleanse and remove trouble from those who turn them. The ”Eight Dragon King Hall” (Hachi Dai Ryuo-do Hall) benefits visitors with good monetary fortune, while strolling through other areas of the temple grounds can bless you with a good relationship.
8. See the Tengu
The symbol of Mt. Takao is the legendary Japanese being known as the Tengu. The mountain is thought to be inhabited by Tengu, which have red faces and long noses. The Takao Tengu are said to bring benefits including good luck, and there are a wide variety Tengu statues all around Yakuo-in and Tengu-shaped sweets are a popular souvenir item.
9. Observe a wide variety of plants, animals, and insects
Mt. Takao is home to about 1,500 kinds of plants, 100 kinds of wild birds, 30 kinds of animals, and 4,000 kinds of insects. Of particular interest are the Takao violet, a plant first discovered on Mt. Takao; the asagimadara (chestnut tiger) butterfly, whose favorite food is thistle nectar; and flying squirrels that glide among the trees. Also located on the mountain, the Takao Monkey Park features about 70 adorable Japanese monkeys.
10. Enjoy colorful autumn leaves
From mid-November to early December, the area around Yakuo-in becomes an even more popular tourist destination when the beautiful red, yellow, and orange autumn leaves create a gorgeous display. In addition, the views from the Ichodaira and Momijidai observation points and the summit are exceptional. The leaves can also be appreciated as you pass slowly through them on the cable car or lift.
11. Energize with the famous Tororo Soba
Mt. Takao’s culinary specialty is Tororo Soba, which adds sticky, raw grated Nagaimo (yams). The dish has been famous for energizing the worshippers of Yakuo-in since the Meiji period. There are about 20 restaurants on Mt. Takao that offer elaborate servings of tororo soba.
12. Enjoy Tokyo’s highest altitude beer garden
Upon exiting the cable car at Takaosan Station, you’ll see Tokyo’s highest altitude beer garden. Open only in summer, the establishment offers a 2-hour all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink Japanese and Western buffet and is a unique opportunity to dine and drink while taking in an expansive night view of Tokyo.
13. Experience the vegetarian cuisine of Yakuo-in
Buddhist cooking features caringly prepared seasonal dishes. At Yakuo-in, you can sample a variety of beautifully prepared dishes and experience this delicious traditional vegetarian cuisine.
14. Relax in a hot spring
Located next to the Takaosanguchi Station on the Keio Line, Gokurakuyu Onsen embodies an atmosphere of healing. The hot spring facility and has seven types of baths, including an open-air rock bath with water from a natural hot spring 1000 meters underground as well as other fragrant baths. After descending from Mt. Takao, it’s the perfect place to rest and relax before taking the train back to the city.
15. Different charms throughout the year
Mt. Takao holds different charms no matter which season you visit. In spring, violets and cherry blossoms are in bloom. In summer, you can enjoy a meal in the beer garden and the night view. In autumn, the colorful leaves are extraordinary, and in winter with its clean air, you can clearly see Mt. Fuji in the distance.
Mt. Takao is certainly worthy of its many repeat visitors – you’ll see a new facet of the mountain’s beauty no matter how many times you visit.
Written by Yoko. English translation by Gabriel Wilkinson.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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