It’s Not All About Mt. Fuji! Top 10 Mountains in Kanto for Superb Views and Mountain Climbing (Beginner/Intermediate Edition)
Japan is a country filled with lush greenery, where forests cover about 70% of the land. Even in the areas in and around Tokyo, there are many mountains that you can easily reach if you want to go climbing or hiking. Having said that, here are some of the mountains near Tokyo where you can go on a day trip.
1. Mt. Takao (Tokyo)
Located an hour away from the center of Tokyo, Mt. Takao is a popular sightseeing spot that is visited by around 3 million tourists each year. This mountain offers various climbing trails that range from easy trails that even beginners can take, up to the difficult trails that are best suited for experts. Out of all the trails there, though, the most famous one is Trail No. 1 that also serves as the omote-sando (front approach) to Takao-san Yakuo-in temple. It is quite a busy trail that is filled with attractions, so aside from Yakuo-in, you will also get to see other spots such as the Konpira-dai observation deck overlooking Tokyo’s urban areas, Mt. Takao Monkey Park, and the Wild Plant Garden. There is also an onsen (hot spring) near the trail-head of the mountain, where you can refresh your mind and body with a relaxing soak in the hot spring water after mountain climbing.
Nearest station: Takaosanguchi Station on the Keio Line
View of the Kanto Plain from the top of Mt. Takao
Mt. Takao cable car
2. Mt. Kobo (Kanagawa)
The three mountains comprised of Mt. Asama, Mt. Gongen, and Mt. Kobo are collectively known as Koboyama Park, which is designated as a Kanagawa Prefectural Natural Park. Blessed with lush nature that is painted in the colors of seasonal flowers such as sakura (cherry blossoms) in spring, this is a place where you can go hiking throughout the year. The recommended hiking course at this area starts at Hadano Station and will take you traversing through those three mountains and then descending to Tsurumaki Onsen. It is a well-developed and paved hiking trail, so you can bring your kids along without worry. If you go to the observation platform at the summit of Mt. Gongen, you will see a gorgeous 360-degree view of Yokohama, Enoshima, Hakone, and even Mt. Fuji.
Nearest station: Hadano Station on the JR Line
3. Nokogiriyama (Chiba)
With an elevation of about 329m, Nokogiriyama is a famous mountain that even beginners can easily climb. While it only takes around an hour to get to the summit from the foot of the mountain, the route via the ropeway is more recommended because it will make you feel like you are walking in the sky, and let you enjoy light mountain climbing at the top. From the observation platform at the summit station, you will get a bird’s-eye view of Tokyo Bay. The Jigoku Nozoki (literally means “looking inside hell”) spot near the peak is a jutting rock on precipitous cliffs, and when you go to the edge of the rock and peek inside, it will make you feel like you are floating on air. A large portion of Nokogiriyama is within the precincts of Nihonji Temple, making it home to a lot of attractions such as the approximately 30m high Hyakushaku Kannon statue and countless small Jizo stone statues, so make sure to visit the temple as well.
Nearest station: Hama-kanaya Station on the JR Uchibo Line
4. Kintokiyama (Kanagawa)
Located at the border of Kanagawa and Shizuoka, Kintokiyama is a mountain that is associated with the old Japanese tale of “Kintaro”. It is famous as a spot that is relatively easy to climb even for beginners thanks to the paved hiking trails that command beautiful views, such as Mt. Fuji, the Southern Alps of Japan, and Suruga Bay that are visible from the summit. There are different kinds of trails available at this mountain, including the Jizodo Trail that will have you hiking along the lake from Jizodo Hall at the eastern foot of Kintokiyama, and the route that goes through the Otome Toge Pass. However, the course that goes to the summit from Kintoki Jinja shrine at the foot of Sengokuhara plateau is filled with spots related to Kintaro, so it is definitely recommended to those who not only want to go mountain climbing, but also do some sightseeing along the way.
Access: Express bus that goes directly to Otome Toge pass from Shinjuku Station
5. Mt. Mitake (Tokyo)
Mt. Mitake, venerated as a sacred site for mountain worship since olden times, is famous among hikers in the Tokyo area, since it boasts easy access from the city center and can be easily climbed thanks to the cable car. When you’re there, don’t miss the Jindai Keyaki (ancient zelkova tree), a national natural treasure found along the path that stretches from the Mitakesan Station of the cable car to Musashi Mitake Jinja Shrine at the summit!
There is a wide array of mountain climbing courses to choose from at this mountain, including the Omote-sando Course that will take you going up a hill with an avenue of cedar trees that was developed in the early Edo period (at the beginning of the 17th century), and the Rock Garden Course that will have you going around while walking between a clear stream and mossy rock surfaces.
Further, there are 25 shukubo (lodging facility for worshipers) in Mt. Mitake, and hikers love them for giving them a different experience from staying in guesthouses or mountain huts.
Access: Take the Nishi Tokyo Bus or Tama Bus from Mitake Station on JR Ome Line, and then get off at the Cable-shita Bus Stop
View of sunrise from Musashi Mitake Jinja
6. Akagiyama (Gunma)
Located in Gunma at the northern part of the Kanto Plain, Akagiyama is a polygenetic volcano with peaks ranging in height from 1,200m to 1,800m. The highest peak in this mountain range is Kurobidake (Mt. Kurobi), which has an elevation of 1,828m. Blessed with abundant nature that includes the caldera lake Ono, the crater lake Kono, and the Kakumanbuchi marshland, this mountain is famous not just for mountain climbing, but also as a leisure spot where people can enjoy fishing, camping, and other activities.
You will find many mountaineering courses for climbing a number of peaks, but intermediate climbers love the Mt. Kurobi – Mt. Komagatake trail. While this trail has slightly steep rocky areas and a lot of ups and downs, the fatigue that you feel will melt away when you see the beautiful view of Mt. Tanigawa and the Oku-nikko (inner Nikko) mountain range.
Access: Get on the Kanetsu Kotsu Bus from JR Maebashi Station and then get off at the Akagiyama Visitor Center Bus Stop
Azaleas in bloom at Akagiyama
Starry sky as seen from Lake Kono at Akagiyama
7. Mt. Tsukuba (Ibaraki)
Mt. Tsukuba, more commonly known in the phrase “Fuji in the west and Tsukuba in the east,” is a mountain familiar to a lot of people for being an object of faith since ancient times, and appearing in Manyoshu, Japan’s oldest collection of poetry.
Rising 877m above sea level, this mountain has two peaks: Nantai-san and Nyotai-san. It is currently popular as a spot where people can go mountain climbing at any time. There are various mountaineering trails there, but the one that is highly recommended is the Miyukigahara Trail that goes to the summit of Nantai-san from Tsukubasan Jinja. It is filled with beautiful attractions such as the spring water of the Minanogawa River’s headstream and the nearby large cedar tree that is believed to be hundreds of years old. There may be differences in elevation and steep ascents, but the sense of fulfillment after climbing the mountain will be even more special. You can also ride the cable car up to a point near the summit, so it is safe even for people who are not so sure about their physical strength.
Access: Get on the Mt. Tsukuba-bound shuttle bus from Tsukuba Station on the Tsukuba Express and then get off at Tsukubasan Jinja Iriguchi Bus Stop
8. Mt. Jinba (Tokyo)
Mt. Jinba is a mountain with an elevation of 854.8m that is located at the boundary of Tokyo and Kanagawa. Just like Mt. Takao, this mountain is reputed as a hiking spot where people can easily go on a day trip. You will be treated to a 360-degree panoramic view from the vast flat summit. You can get an unbroken view from Mt. Fuji and Tanzawa up to Mt. Tsukuba and Boso Peninsula, a view that has been selected as one of the 100 Famous Views of Mt. Fuji.
There are three main routes to the summit of Mt. Jinba. The more famous routes are the Ichinoo Range course that is easy for families to walk, and the Wada Toge route that can take you to the summit in such a short time. There is also a course that runs through Mt. Takao and the neighboring mountains, so if you are confident about your physical strength, then you should definitely try that course.
Nearest station: JR Fujino Station
9. Oyama (Kanagawa)
Oyama, with an elevation of 1,252m, is a popular mountain climbing spot in Kanagawa where you can go on a day trip. Its beautiful pyramid shape has been an object of mountain worship since olden times. The view from the summit is superb and you can see Sagami Bay, Enoshima and Miura Peninsula.
In the recommended course for beginners at mountain climbing, you have to go up Oyama Afuri Jinja shrine on the mountainside via cable car and then head to the summit from there. If you want to reach the top on foot, then climb the Otoko-zaka (male slope) or Onna-zaka (female slope) that is right next to the cable car station. The Otoko-zaka has a lot of steep stone stairs, so it is recommended to those who trust their legs for the journey.
Access: Get on the bus from Isehara Station on the Odakyu Line and then get off at Oyama Cable Station Bus Stop
View from Oyama-Afuri Jinja
10. Takamizu-Sanzan (Tokyo)
Takamizu-Sanzan is formed by three mountains on the north side of the Tamagawa Gorge, comprising Mt. Takamizu, Mt. Iwatakeishi and Mt. Sogaku. All these mountains are relatively low, with the highest one, Mt. Iwatakeishi, having an altitude of 793m. They are very accessible via public transport and the mountain trails are well paved, so they are famous as a spot where you can walk on the ridge and enjoy nature at Okutama such as plants that grow from season to season.
The loop course that starts at JR Ikusabata Station, traverses three mountains, and then ends at JR Mitake Station two stations away is a famous course that will let you enjoy the scenic views of the laid-back undeveloped woodland and the appeal of Okutama. There are also many hot spring facilities at Okutama, so you can refresh your body at any of the hot spring spots in the vicinity after you descend from the mountain.
Nearest station: Ikusabata Station or Mitake Station on the JR Ome Line
All the mountains showcased in this article can be easily accessed from Tokyo, so you can enjoy them on a day trip. It would be a great opportunity to get acquainted to nature in Japan, so try to go hiking in any one of these mountains.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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