Mount Takao – The Perfect Day Trip From Tokyo

Mount Takao, just 50 minutes from Tokyo, is the perfect day trip from the capital. Hiking, monkeys, onsens, beer - Mount Takao has it all. Our guide has all the info you need to hit Mount Takao tomorrow.

Mount Takao is a haven of peace, a welcome relief from the world’s most populous city and best of all, getting there is a breeze. Located to the west of Tokyo, the mountain can be reached in just fifty minutes from Shinjuku in the center of the city. Its proximity to the metropolis means that Mount Takao is one of the most popular day trip destinations out of the city. It’s a great place to enjoy a walk through abundant nature, recharge your batteries and take it easy for a while.

Read on for everything you need to know about Mount Takao: what to do, what to see and importantly, how to get there, all right here.

Photo Credit: Guilhem Vellut via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Guilhem Vellut via Flickr cc

How to Climb Mount Takao

Photo Credit: Jeremy Hall via Flickr cc

Hiking trails Map Photo Credit: Jeremy Hall via Flickr cc

There are three options for ascending Mount Takao: hiking, cable car or stair lift. For those wanting to hike, there are six different trails, each taking a differing root and with differing difficulty levels. Only one of the trails (Omotesando) offers the cable car and chair lift option.  

Here’s a run-down on the six trails:

1) Omotesando Trail 

By far the most popular trail, Omotesando boasts a variety of attractions and sightseeing spots along its route, though, it is in fact, the longest of the six, coming in at 3.8km in total. However, this is offset by the fact that it is the only trail offering the use of a cable car and a chair lift. Making use of these options allows one to reach the summit in just 15 minutes. 

Cable car Photo Credit: Masao Mutoh via Flickr cc

Cable car Photo Credit: Masao Mutoh via Flickr cc

Echo lift Photo Credit: nakashi via Flickr cc

The difficulty level for hiking this course is considered average, requiring a minimum of athleticism. The climb to the summit takes approximately 110 minutes and 90 minutes back down again. The nature along this route is fantastic and you’ll pass attractions including the monkey park, the wild plant garden, cedar street, Tako Sugi (octopus shaped cedar tree) and Takao-san Yakuo-in Temple (more info below). There are also plentiful rest spots and even restaurants. This is the main trail to the summit and is recommended for those inexperienced in hiking. 

2) Kasumidai Loop Trail 

The second trail is just 900m in length and takes 30 minutes to complete. Reason being, the Kasumidai Loop Trail begins at the cable car station and loops around the mountain summit, it is not, therefore, a trail for ascending Takao. Nonetheless, the hiking is extremely relaxing and nature-centric. For those who opt for the non-walking options to reach the summit, this trail is a good option for an easy, short walk once there. 

3) Katsura Woods Trail

The third trail is about 2.4km in length with an average difficulty level. You’ll need 60 minutes to climb up and 50 minutes to go back down again. The trail starts on the left-hand side of the Jyoshin-mon Gate and is notable for the Japanese Judas trees along its route. Hikers can enjoy all kinds of scenery with spectacular views and a wonderful wooden bridge over a stream. It’s less crowded than other trails and recommended to those who want that extra dose of serenity.  

4) Suspension Bridge Trail

The distance of this trail is 1.5km, the difficulty is average and you will need 50 minutes to ascend and 40 minutes to descend. The entire trail is through forest, making the air fresh and cool. The trail is one of the more popular routes, however, offering as it does the only suspension bridge on Mount Takao – the Miyama-Bashi Bridge. Find here also broad-leaved deciduous trees unique to the area. 

5) Mt. Takao Peak Loop Trail

Another loop trail, around 900m long and taking on average 30 minutes to complete. The path loops around the area below the peak, at 500 meters above sea level. Hikers can enjoy a relaxing walk in beautiful scenery, particularly in spring, when various kinds of flowers begin to bloom. 

6) Biwa Waterfall Trail

The final trail is roughly 3.3km in length and probably the most difficult of the six. You will need around 90 minutes to reach the top and 60 minutes to walk back down again. Running along a mountain stream, it is fresh and cool even in the summer. This trail is also called the “trail of water” for the ascetic monks that can be seen training at Biwa Waterfall, even in the bitter winter. Many hikers prefer this rough trail for its scenery, challenge and the fact that it avoids draining direct sunlight. 

What to Do and See on Mount Takao

Along the various routes and at the summit, Mount Takao has much to see and do. Take a look: 

Tako Sugi (octopus shaped cedar):

Photo Credit: Dick Thomas Johnson via Flickr cc

Tako Sugi is a large old cedar tree (more than 450 years old), popular for its unique shape – curved roots with distinctive holes – that, from the ground, resemble an octopus. It is said that goblins, peeved by the tree’s roots blocking the forest path, decided to cut the tree down so it responded by curving its roots to allow easy passage. Recently, to prevent damage to the tree, it has been partially fenced off.  

Summit Observatory: 

Photo Credit: Dick Thomas Johnson via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Dick Thomas Johnson via Flickr cc

Visitors can enjoy Mount Takao’s spectacular views from the observatory at its summit, reached via trail number 1 (Omotesando). When conditions are clear, glimpse Mount Fuji, Tokyo and Yokohama in the distance. 

Mount Takao Yakuoin Temple:

Photo Credit: Rob Young via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Rob Young via Flickr cc

Yakuoin Shinto-Buddhist Temple, built in 744 by Gyoki Bosatsu, is dedicated to the Medicine Buddha, Yakushi Nyorai. The temple has some unique features, including separate male and female paths leading up to it. The men’s path is a staircase of 108 steps with each step representing a worldly desire, ascending the steps allows one to be cleansed of these desires. The women’s path is not as arduous, following the belief that women shouldn’t have to walk a difficult road but also that women are less burdened with desire as men. Nowadays, both are open to all so feel free to take the path you want.

Photo Credit: Ari Helminen via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Ari Helminen via Flickr cc

The second unique feature of this temple is its small house to the rear, surrounded by 88 Buddha statues representing the 88 temples of the Shikoku island.

Photo Credit: Big Ben in Japan via Flickr cc

Tengu Photo Credit: Big Ben in Japan via Flickr cc

You will also see Tengu (guardian spirits) figures at the temple.  The most famous Tengu that guards Takao-san is a goblin with a long phallic nose, believed to be a messenger of the deities. 

Mount Takao Onsen:

Photo Credit: Thirteen-fri [CC BY-SA 4.0] , via Wikimedia Commons

Photo Credit: Thirteen-fri [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Mount Takao has its own onsen in which you can enjoy a relaxing bath whilst gazing out at the scenery surrounding you. It was designed using natural materials complementary to its surroundings for a brilliant feeling of peace and serenity. The onsen provides various different types of bath:

Cypress bath – tiny micro bubbles remove impurities from the bathers’ skin.

Themed bath – special bath that changes periodically with each season.

Sauna – for if the mountain climb didn’t make you sweat enough.

Outdoor stone-pitch bath – a carbonated hot spring (rare in Japan) which aims to promote healthy blood flow and enhance the bathers’ metabolism.

Natural hot spring outdoor rock baths (warm and hot) – rising from 1,000 meters underground, this hot spring water helps make bathers’ skin softer.

Sitting bath – this style of bath allows water to soothe the entire body, as bathers’ bodies are submerged up to the shoulders.

Cold bath – a pleasantly cool bath that will help bathers cool-off after luxuriating in the hot water pools. This method of bathing also helps the skin tighten after a sauna in order to prevent bathers from catching a chill afterward.

Mount Takao Monkey Park:

Monkey park entrance Photo Credit: d’n’c via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Richie Johns via Flickr cc

Mount Takao is famous for being home to many wild Japanese monkeys. See them up close in Mont Takao Monkey Park, housing roughly 60 monkeys and a lot of fun.

Mount Takao Beer Garden:

Photo Credit: Ayuru Sorawo via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Ayuru Sorawo via Flickr cc

Located at the top of the mountain, Takao’s beer garden offers all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink options, each of which lasts for 90 minutes with a good selection of food and drink. Unfortunately, the beer garden is only open during the summer, from late June to early October.

Entrance costs 3,500 yen for men and 3,300 yen for women, oddly.    

Mount Takao Access

To access Mount Takao from Tokyo, take a train to Takaosangushi Station (Keio line) or to Takao Station (Chuo line) and transfer to Takaosangushi Station.

Visitor Information

Mount Takao:

Business Hours: Officially Mount Takao is open 24/7 but it is not recommended to climb at night

Price: Free

Cablecar:

Business Hours: 8:00 am- 05:45 pm (longer hours on weekends and holidays)

Departures every 15 minutes

Price: 480 yen (one way), 930 yen (round trip)

Chair Lift:

Business Hours: 9:00 am – 04:30 pm (until 04:00 pm December-April)

Departures every 15 minutes

Price: 480 yen (one way), 930 yen (round trip)

Monkey Park:

Business Hours: 9:30 am- 04:00 pm (December to February), 10:00 am- 04:30 pm (March and April) and 9:30- 04:30 pm (May to November)

Departures every 15 minutes

Price: 420 yen

Keio Takaosan Onsen Gokurakuyu:

Business Hours: 08:00 am- 11:00 pm (December to February), 10:00 am- 04:30 pm (March and April) and 9:30- 04:30 pm (May to November)

Price: 1000 yen (1200 yen during autumn and during national holidays)

Beer Garden:

Business Hours: It is only open during the summer, from late June until early October. Weekdays 3:00 p.m- 9:00 p.m, August 13th – 14th 1:00 p.m- 9:00 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays, Holidays 1:00 p.m- 9:00 p.m

Price: 3,500 yen for men and 3,300 yen for women,  All you can eat and drink for 90 minutes, 500 yen for extra time (30 minutes)

Ines Smaili

Ines Smaili

Hi, I'm Inès, I love to travel all around the world especially in Japan, I will share with you all the information needed to have the best trip of your life!



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