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Why Takaosan is special ?
Mount Takao (高尾山, Takaosan) is one of the closest natural recreation areas to central Tokyo, offering beautiful scenery, an interesting temple and attractive hiking opportunities. Although outside the city center, the mountain is still located within metropolitan Tokyo and takes only 50 minutes and 390 yen to reach from Shinjuku.
A network of numbered hiking trails lead up the slopes of Takaosan. The majority of visitors use trail number 1, which is broad, mostly paved and passes all of the major sites as it winds its way to the top of the 599 meter high summit. The other trails are narrower, unpaved and see significantly less traffic. The hike to the top of Mount Takao along trail number 1 takes about 90 minutes from the base of the mountain, but that time can be cut in half by utilizing the cablecar or chair lift that lead halfway up the mountain.
What to explore at Takaosan?
Near the cablecar's top station, there is an observation deck from where you can look out over Tokyo, while the summit offers views of Mount Fuji on clear days. An even larger network of hiking trails can be found beyond the summit of Takaosan which connects to the many peaks of the nearby Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park.
Considered a sacred mountain, Takaosan has been a center of mountain worship for more than 1000 years. Yakuoin, an attractive temple, stands along the trail near the mountain's summit, and many visitors stop there to pray to Shinto-Buddhist mountain gods (tengu) for good fortune. Statues of the gods, one with a long nose and one with a crow beak, can be found at the temple and also other spots around the mountain.
Another attraction along trail number 1 is a monkey park. The park's glass walled enclosure is home to about 40 Japanese macaques that put on shows at various times throughout the day. A wild flower garden with 500 different types of plants is also part of the monkey park and can be viewed with the same admission ticket.Due to its proximity to central Tokyo, Takaosan can get very crowded on weekends. It is especially busy during the second half of November, when the mountain's scattered autumn colors cause it to become one of Tokyo's most popular koyo (autumn foliage) spots. Consequently, you are well advised to visit Takaosan during the week if you are looking for a break not only from the concrete but also the crowds of Tokyo.
Mount Takao is also a good place to see cherry blossoms a couple of weeks after those in central Tokyo. There are a few trees around the mountain's base, trails and summit, but the best spot for cherry blossoms is the Itchodaira area, which lies an additional 30 minutes hike beyond the summit. Also known as the Takaosan Senbonzakura ("Mount Takao Thousand Cherry Trees"), the area is filled with several varieties of trees that are typically best viewed in mid to late April and are well worth a visit if you missed the main season around the city.
How to get to Takaosan?
Keio Railways offer the cheapest and fastest connections to Takaosan. Direct semi-limited express trains, which take about 50 minutes and 390 yen, leave the underground Keio Shinjuku station every 20 minutes. Takaosanguchi Station, the train's terminal station, is located at the foot of the mountain.
Alternatively, the JR Chuo Line connects Shinjuku to Takao Station (550 yen, about 40 minutes), where you must transfer to the Keio Line and ride one more station to Takaosanguchi Station (130 yen, 3 minutes).
- Great views up top
- Wonderful hiking and spiritual experience
- Day Trekking at Mt. Takao
- A beautiful natural park
- Escape from Tokyo
Mt Takao Takaomachi Hachioji, Tokyo 193-0844, Japan
Tips for you
“Takaosan Trails & Senbonzakura (1000 Sakuras)” See my full review & photos of takaosan at my taverl/dining blog=http://chefquak.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/takaosan-trails-senbonzakura-1000-sakuras/ Takaosan (高尾山) is the ideal destination for easy, fun trekking. The summit is just 599m and on a clear day we can see Mount Fuji & have excellent view of Tokyo’s cityscape. It is also easily accessible (& so a favourite weekend destination for many) via a 370yen 1 hr train ride on Odakyu Keio Line from Shinjuku, and that’s what I did on 10apr2013, the second day of my trip. I had earlier learned from my driving holiday with my wife in Tohoku (just before it was ravaged by the Fukushima tsunami/nuclear disaster) that momiji (maple) koyo (autumn leaves) colours are best viewed in the mountains & sakura in the cities. and though my Chasing Sakura turned Missing Sakura Tokyo trip was failing in its primary mission, takaosan did offer both great trekking + late sakura viewing especially the senbonzakura (1000 sakuras) on a 1/2 hr trek from the summit to Itchodaira. :-) I will just have to make do with that. there are 3 routes to hike up takaosan – route 1 which is paved all the way to summit, the natural studies route 6 which is Jeanette’s recommended hike passing by the Biwa Falls, & inariyama trail route. At mid-hill there is a route 4 that goes by a suspension bridge & route 3 which passes by 3 small bridges. route 2 is the circle route at mid-hill & route 5 is the circle route at summit. see http://www.takaotozan.co.jp/takaotozan_eng1/course/index.htm The 5 mins one-way ski-lift & cable car from the base to mid-hill station each cost 470yen (more than my 1 hr Odakyu train fare from Tokyo!) just consider you were contributing to the upkeep of these nice places for all to enjoy (which was the not so profound truth) – I always tell myself. I took the ski-lift. the sign above left tells you come in april if you want to catch sakura & october for the koyo colours. Looking at distant foliage with a hint of colours in the above centre photo, you can just about imagine what it will be like in autumn! see http://www.japan-guide.com/blog/koyo12/121119.html I decided to take route 4 to see the suspension bridge, knowing that I would likely turned back as the guide said after the bridge the route up was steep.I decided to go route 1 all the way rather than route 3. this took me pass the Yakuoin Temple (药王院). at the summit, you could see that this was a favourite outing & picnic place for many – family & friends! the late blossoming sakuras were few but always stunningly beautiful, endearing even if very short-lived. weather was sunny if not totally clear, but this was mesmerizing. the senbonzakura route to Itchodaira was not quite lined with 1000 sakuras (or maybe some had bloomed & fallen). still it was such a wonderful walk.:-) oooooooooooo! I stopped for a 300yen shimeji miso soup- nice & warm & wondeful warming feeling in the stomach..haha. there was another long rather tedious flight of steps to Itchodaira(the 5 photos above were taken at branch trek on the right side of these steps). I was wondering if to take it, which I did eventually. there was much lesser sakuras on the way up & nothing much to add to the experience, so in fact one could skip this part! I made my way back to takaosan summit. It was past 2pm & I decided not to risk the journey down route 6. It was actually easier to walk uphill & on steps than to walk downhill & especially on a slope, and the natural compensation for my injured left toes had caused my calves especially right side to take up most strain. since I came up mid-hill by ski-lift I decided to take the cable car down. there was a queue of people (about 10) buying the read bean dessert. I decided to try one (it was very good hot & crispy outside fluffy inside though too much of read beans). the queue time turned out to be much longer as there were quite a few buying a few packetfuls like 30 pieces whereas a few of us poor things were waiting just to get one! I was at takaosan 9.30am and left about 3.30pm. I reckon normally I would have done it including route 6 downhill by 2.30pm. back to Shinjuku for a nice dinner then.