Mention Tokyo and blinding neon lights, soaring skyscrapers and quirky otaku shops quickly come to mind. However, the Tokyo suburbs are filled with relaxing nature, including Mt. Takao! Mt. Takao’s densely-wooded environment with picturesque temples on the way is a pleasant and peaceful hike located in one of the largest cities in the world.
As someone from the relatively flat Netherlands, a real mountain within a city makes for an exciting day trip. Even as someone with little mountain climbing experience, I felt confident hiking to the top of Mt. Takao at 600 meters, and so should you!
Easy Hiking Courses Around Mt. Takao
There are 3 main hiking courses (with many smaller paths on the way) to take, and a cable car or chair lift can take the less-experienced hiker halfway uphill in a Tokyo minute.
The full hike takes 1 hour and 30 minutes or more depending on the course of your choice. From the halfway point, expect about 40 minutes of hiking.
Mountain Treats of Mt. Takao
There is plenty of mountain cuisine to try around Mt. Takao to give you the energy you need to make it to the top of this friendly peak in the Tokyo suburbs.
Soba is a buckwheat noodle popular in Japan. What makes tororo soba around Mt. Takao special is its special topping of grated Japanese yams. One of the best places to try this tasty Japanese dish is near the base of the mountain at Takahashiya.
You may have heard of the popular taiyaki, a Japanese fish-shaped treat filled with sweet red bean paste. Tengu yaki is Mt. Takao’s charming take of the snack that uses the image of Karasu Tengu, a long-nosed mountain goblin said to ward off evil.
Mitsufuku Dango are delicious, sticky snacks made from steamed and hammered rice. The treats come in a set of three skewered with a wooden stick. The three dango stand for good fortune, happiness, and prosperity, so they are good for the soul as well as your tastebuds! You can find Mt. Takao’s mitsufuku dango at a variety of food stalls in the area roasting in a circular shape above a fire.
Activities Around Mt. Takao in the Tokyo Suburbs
Mt. Takao is even more accessible thanks to the ropeway that leads to the top. You can enjoy the beauty of Mt. Takao from the cable car. The one-way journey takes about 6 minutes and costs 490 yen for adults and 250 yen for children.
In autumn, hunting for stunning maple trees in Japan sits at the top of everyone’s mind each weekend. Fortunately, Mt. Takao offers great views of the autumn landscape in the suburbs of Tokyo! For that reason, autumn is one of the best times to visit Mt. Takao.
Established in 744 under Emperor Shumo and restored in the 14th century, the Buddhist Yakuo-in Temple adds traditional culture to the Mt. Takao experience. The temple is located near the top of Mt. Takao, about a 20-minute walk from the ropeway station.
Public bathing in natural hot springs is a popular pastime in Japan. Not only is it a great way to get clean after a hike, it is also relaxing for sore muscles. Even though Mt. Takao is an easy hike, your feet still deserve a little rest in some soothing water! Takaosan Onsen conveniently connects to Takaosanguchi Station, so you can head directly home after a relaxing soak along with great food and drinks.
After reaching the top of Mt. Takao, you will have certainly earned a good rest! Especially in the summertime, the all-you-can-drink and all-you-can-eat make a great reward for your effort! There are even some pretty good desserts to enjoy as you take in the stunning view of Tokyo, Hachioji, and even Yokohama on a clear day.
From the top of Mt. Takao, it is possible to see Japan’s iconic Mt. Fuji on a clear day. For that reason, Mt. Takao has become a popular place to catch the rare sighting of “diamond fuji”. During this even, the popular cone shaped mountain appears to swallow up the sun as it aligns perfectly with the peak.
When to Take a Day Trip to Mt. Takao
While any time of the year is great, I would like to especially recommend autumn, when crimson and gold leaves magnificently color the mountain. The peak time for viewing autumn leaves around Mt. Takao is from mid-November to early-December.
How to Get to Mt. Takao
Visiting Mt. Takao is easy from Shinjuku. As a result, it is a popular day trip from Tokyo. Using the JR Chuo Line from Shinjuku, the trip to Takao Station takes just 40 – 50 minutes. However, from there, you will need to transfer to the Kei Line and go to Takaosanguchi Station. From Takaosanguchi Station of the Keio Line, all roads lead to Rome, or in this case, the mountain top.