Enjoy Mountain Climbing in Tokyo! An In-Depth Guide to the Popular Mt. Takao
Tokyo may have a strong image of being a place filled with skyscrapers, but if you venture a little farther from the center of the city, then you will see that it also has lush nature and mountains to offer. There is a place you just have to check out when you visit Tokyo, and that is Mt. Takao! With that, here is a thorough guide on this famous mountain.
1. About Mt. Takao
Located about 45 minutes away from Shinjuku Station by train, Mt. Takao is a mountain where you can go hiking any time of the year. It boasts the largest number of climbers in the world, as it welcomes 3 million climbers per annum. This mountain may be situated in the outskirts of the city, but it is home to 1,300 species of plants, animals, and wild birds. Everyone from beginners to seasoned experts can easily hike and enjoy nature here, so it has been transformed into a famous hiking and trekking spot that has won three stars in the Michelin Travel Guide in recent years.
2. Types of Trails
There are 10 hiking trails you can take to get to the summit of Mt. Takao, starting with Trails 1 through 6. The most popular trail, Trail No. 1, can be reached via cable car. It is paved all the way up to Yakuo-in Temple, plus there are teahouses and toilets along the way, so it is easy to walk even for mountain climbing beginners. Meanwhile, Trail No. 6 is a full-fledged mountain road that may be quite difficult to climb, but taking this trail will also let you fully enjoy the experience of hiking, so it is worthwhile. Hear the sound of the river while walking through moss-covered trees, along the water’s edge, and on stepping stones! Aside from the wide range of trails available, Mt. Takao is also filled with the kind of charm that you won’t get tired of however many times you visit, so you can have fun here in any season.
3. Cable Cars and Lifts
If you want to enjoy Mt. Takao in a more comfortable and leisurely manner that does not involve hiking, then it would be best to ride the cable car or chair lift that will take you to the station that's approximately 472m above ground. It takes 6 minutes one-way on the cable car, which is the steepest in Japan, and 12 minutes one-way on the chair lift that will make you feel like you are walking on air. They have the same end point, so the fares are also the same (480 JPY for one-way, 930 JPY for round-trip). How about buying a round-trip ticket and having fun to and from the summit? You can also avail of the Takaosan Kippu (Mt. Takao Discount Ticket) that will give you a 20% discount on a set of tickets: one round-trip ticket from any station on the Keio or Inokashira Line to Takaosanguchi Station, and a ticket to ride on the cable car or chair lift (round-trip or one-way).
4. Go to Mt. Takao Monkey Park
A 3-minute walk from the cable car station, Mt. Takao Monkey Park is a spot where you can drop in before you go and pay your respects at Mt. Takao’s Yakuo-in Temple. The trail leading to the monkey park is also filled with beautiful attractions.
This is an observation deck that is found halfway up Mt. Takao, offering views that stretch as far as Shinjuku. The scenery during the day is gorgeous, but it is even more beautiful at night. The view is especially stunning during winter, when the air is clear. This observatory is just a 2-minute walk after you get off the cable car or chair lift. It is also the venue of the Mt. Takao Beer Mount, a beer garden that is only open during summer.
Otokozaka/Onnazaka and Takosugi
The approach leading to Yakuo-in Temple on Trail No. 1 splits into two roads – the Otokozaka (the man’s road that is known to be steeper) on the left that will have you climbing a 108-step stone stairway, and the gently sloping Onnazaka (the woman’s road that is considered as the easier route) on the right. The takosugi (massive Japanese cedar tree) and Mt. Takao Monkey Park are both found in Otokozaka. The two routes merge in front of Gongen Chaya, so it might be fun to go up one route and go down using the other route.
A short walk on Otokozaka will lead you to the enormous cedar tree that is 450 years old. Its roots are bent like octopus (tako) tentacles and it has a huge trunk. You will surely feel its powerful life force! Climbing or touching the roots of the tree is prohibited, but if you must, then touch the Hipparidako sculpture next to the tree as much as you want. They say that rubbing the head of this cute octopus sculpture will bring good luck. This is also one of the popular power spots in Mt. Takao, so it’s a perfect place for taking a souvenir photo!
You've Arrived at Mt. Takao Monkey Park!
Sitting right next to Takosugi is Mt. Takao Monkey Park. Monkeys operate under a hierarchy system, so when you visit this park, you are bound to witness humorous scenes that will make them look like humans. Imagine a baby monkey that is curious about everything, a mother monkey that looks worried about what her child is about to do, and an old monkey presenting itself as the boss – you’ll get hooked to these unique monkeys!
There is a wild plant garden adjacent to the monkey park, where you can enjoy looking at about 300 varieties of wild grasses and flowers. The beautiful alpine plants also bear small flowers depending on the season.
Business hours: 9:30 am – 4:00 pm in January to February and December, 10:00 am – 4:30 pm in March to April, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm in May to November
Admission fee: Adult (junior high school and above): 420 JPY (incl. tax), Child (3 years old and above): 210 JPY (incl. tax)
5. Worship at Head Temple Takao-san Yakuo-in
Yakuo-in is a temple found halfway up Mt. Takao that is more than 1,260 years old. The entirety of Mt. Takao is actually a training area for Shugendo (Japanese mountain asceticism incorporating Shinto and Buddhist concepts), housing two waterfalls for cold water ablutions: Jataki and Biwataki. These spots are still open to laity today (reservation required, with a fee). There are also many sights to see and try here, such as the Daihonbo (head office of the temple) where you can try vegetarian cuisine that was originally created for Buddhist monks (reservation required), and Izuna Gongendo Hall where you can see beautiful sculptures. Furthermore, there are many places where you can get lucky charms that are associated with belief in tengu.
Considered an object of worship, a tengu is a legendary creature with a red face and a long nose. It holds a fan made of leaves and can fly freely with the wings on its back. It gives good luck that wards off evil, so a fan-shaped charm bearing a photo of a tengu might be a great idea for a souvenir.
6. Enjoy Mountain Climbing
The best way to discover the charms of Mt. Takao is to actually climb it! Here, the mountain trails are well paved and easy to walk on, so once you have prepared the proper clothing and supplies for mountain climbing, then go ahead and try to climb this mountain!
Try to go up the summit by taking the route that involves a ride on the cable car or chair lift and a hike on Trail No. 4. There is a suspension bridge along this route that will treat you to gorgeous views of the valley below. It is also easy to walk since there are no steep ascents and descents, so it is even recommended for novice mountain climbers.
To go up the mountain, you need to ride the cable car or chair lift up to the halfway point of the mountain, and when you get past Onnazaka, you have to enter Trail No.4 from the point in front of Joshin-mon (Joshin Gate). From there, it is 1.5km to the summit, which will take you around 50 minutes to climb. To go back, walk on Trail No.1 for about 20 minutes, visit Yakuo-in Temple, and then go down the mountain via cable car or chair lift. With this route, you get to go mountain climbing in the ascent, and then worship at Yakuo-in Temple and enjoy the monkey park in the descent.
7. Enjoy Delicious Food
Mt. Takao is dotted with teahouses where you can rest your tired body. Some of the recommended treats here are the famous tengu-yaki from Kasumi, the gelato with the goodness of fresh fruits from Takao-san FuMoToYA, and the freshly-made dango (a kind of sweet dumpling) from Juitchome Chaya. The specialty tororo soba (buckwheat noodles with grated yam) from Takao-san Takahashiya is also superb. There are also many people who visit Mt. Takao for the purpose of enjoying cold beer while marveling at stunning views of nature at Beer Mount, which is only open during the summer. Enjoy great food together with hiking!
8. The Summit
It takes around 20 minutes to reach the summit from Yakuo-in Temple. The view from the 588m-high summit is so beautiful that you probably won’t believe you’re so close to the center of the city. You can even see Mt. Fuji that has been designated as a World Heritage Site, as well as the gorgeous Tanzawa mountains. At the Takao Visitor Center, located at the peak, you can get information about the flora in Mt. Takao or dine at the teahouse there. It is a well-equipped facility, offering enough toilets for the throngs of climbers and hikers that come.
Another thing that the summit of Mt. Takao is famous for is the so-called Diamond Fuji. For a few days in late December each year, the sun sets across the peak of Mt. Fuji. Its twinkling and slowly setting figure looks exactly like a diamond on top of Mt. Fuji! Cable car operation hours are extended during this period, so you can safely head home even after sunset. The time when you can see this phenomenon changes every year, so make sure to check first before you come.
9. Relax at Keio Takaosan Onsen Gokurakuyu
When you get tired of all the sightseeing, how about soaking in the hot waters of Keio Takaosan Onsen Gokurakuyu that is right beside Takaosanguchi Station before you head home? This hot spring facility was built in 2015, so it’s incredibly clean! There are many types of baths available here, including a sauna, a cypress bath that smells incredibly good, and an open-air bath where you can soak while feeling the outside wind blow on your face. Your body, exhausted from a day of walking, will feel so refreshed after it warms up in the bath. The shampoo and body soap that are provided in the bathroom can be used for free, and face towels are sold for 150 JPY a piece, so you’ll be fine even if you didn’t come prepared.
Business hours: 8:00 am – 11:00 pm (last entry at 10:00 pm)
Admission fee: Adult (junior high school and above): 1,000 JPY (incl. tax), Child (4 years old – elementary school): 500 JPY (incl. tax), 3 years old and younger: Free. However, the fees will be 1,200 JPY for adults and 600 JPY for children on January 1 - 3, Golden Week (starting early May), and November 1 - 30, which are the times when the place is usually crowded.
Easily accessible from the city center, Mt. Takao is a mountain where you can enjoy watching the flow of clear streams and walking in thick forests. Use this article as your guide and check out this spot that people love for its rich nature and Japanese culture!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
popular article ranking
Tokyo × Genre
Best of Tags
Best of Area
Recommended articles for you
- Follow WOW! JAPAN
- Can't find it in a guidebook? Looking through this app will definitely make you want to go to Japan.
Sightseeing information to make you say "Wow!", updated every day!