Friday 6 May 2016

Mountain hiking in Tokyo - Mount Takao

Located less than an hour away from central Tokyo lies Mount Takao.  Standing only 599 metres high, it is a popular weekend destination for hikers of all ability levels.  There are 8 hiking trails located around the mountain covering a total of about 30 km.

Right now is Golden Week in Japan.  It is one of the few set holiday periods when people are able to take vacation time.  What that means is that everywhere is crowded and busy!  I chose the one work day during the Golden Week period to make my way out to Mount Takao hoping that it would not be too crowded.

I arrived at Nakano station to meet my good friend Atra and we briefly flirted with the idea of a light lunch

before dismissing the idea due to time constraints and jumped on the Chuo line to head out to Takaosan.

Just a little, useful piece of information for those who head to Mount Takao via the Chuo line.  Once reaching Takao station, you need to switch to the Keio line and head one more stop to Takaosanguchi station.

Many thanks to the friendly lady who helped us.....

We exited the station and just started following the people.  If there are no people when you visit, just exit the station and head right.

The first thing we did was head straight for the chairlift

and enjoyed a scenic 12 minute ride part way up the mountain.

Reaching the top of the chairlift we paused for a view out over the outskirts of Tokyo

before continuing up the path to the summit.  All along the way there are interesting statues, monuments

and well, I don't even know what some of them represent........ (see update at the bottom of this post)

About halfway up we reached Yakuoin Yukiji Temple.

The Temple was built in the year 744 and is a multi level Temple that covers a large area of Mount Takao and is dedicated to the Medicine Buddha Yakushi Nyorai.  We walked inside and were immediately confronted by these 2 big guys.....

With a polite nod, and avoiding eye contact, we made our way quietly past and wound our way through the rest of the Temple.

Now, a word of warning.  The Temple area has a lot of sets of steps to climb

so come prepared for a good workout.

We were now nearly at the summit so we pushed on, finally making it to the top where, unfortunately, the view was not so good due to the clarity of the air.  All is not lost however, as here is a photo from the top that I prepared earlier (2 years earlier, in fact.  More on that later).

On a clear day, It is a stunning view from the top, looking out at all of the other nearby mountains, and on a really clear day, you can even see Mount Fuji standing majestically in the distance.

Atra and I had a quick bite to eat to refuel and shared some rice with the local wildlife (who was grateful for the gift which was clearly going to last him for a while).

Finishing up, we decided to make our way back down via one of the hiking trails.

After a little while I stopped and listened.............

to nature..........

and what a beautiful song she sung.  Silence, birds singing, wind rustling through the trees and more silence, all at once.........

Living in Tokyo, there is not much silence and the only birds I hear are the crows screeching as they go about their business.


this was what we came to Takao for, and Takao was in a very generous mood.

We, all too soon, arrived back at the chairlift and made our way back down to the foot of Takao.

Now, I showed a photo of the summit that I had taken a couple of years earlier.  I went to Takao in Autumn of 2014 and took some shots which never made it onto the blog, so I would like to share the beauty and colour of Takao in Autumn with you too.

Also a great time to visit Mount Takao.  Fully satisfied, Atra and I jumped back on the train and wearily made our way back to inner Tokyo.  It was a great day, and I felt rejuvenated having immersed myself in nature again!  In fact, I'm already planning another trip back!

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed that.  Leave me a comment below if you did, I love hearing from you.  Take care, and, until next time, bye.

Update May 7th 2016: I have been told by a friend that the statue of the octopus on Mount Takao is for students who are studying to take exams.  As students pass by the octopus, they rub its head and pray for success on their exams! (Thank you Norico!)

Also, I have been told that there is an onsen (hot spring) at the foot of the mountain right next to the train station (in fact you can access it from the station).  It is called KEIO Takao San Onsen, so if you are feeling tired from the hike up and down the mountain you can step inside the onsen and soothe your weary muscles before heading back to Tokyo.  (Thank you Marina!)


  1. I loved it and loved the day out with you Jason \o/
    Thanks for the article ♥

    1. Thanks for coming Atra. Looking forward to the next adventure!