Climbing Mt Takao

An oasis in a concrete forest

By Kenny King Hin Choi    - 3 min read

Want to escape the busy city life of Tokyo without the need to venture too far? Mt Takao (also known as Takaosan) is the best choice. It is not a very tall mountain compared to those further west; but with a height of 599 meters, you can stretch yourself out and get some fresh air without straining your last bit of energy to reach the top. It is the closest hiking possibility from Tokyo. The second closest is Mt Jinba, which is connected to Mt Takao by hiking trails.

Several hiking trails go from the very foot of the mountain to the top - Trail 1, Trail 6 and the Inariyama Trail. Another two, Trail 3 and Trail 4, connect the middle of the hill to the peak. There are cable cars and chair lifts that take you from the bottom to the middle. I took the chair lift to the middle and hiked up Trail 1, the most popular one, passing through Yakuoin Buddhist temple. On the descent, I took Trail 4 from the top, then joined up with Trail 1 to reach the foot of the mountain.

I personally think the chairlift is much nicer than the cable car, in that you enjoy much more of the surroundings as you are not caged inside a cabin. The experience is more exciting as there is just the chair supporting you, with nothing beneath your feet. You can also easily turn around to take pictures.

The hike from the mid-station to the top via Trail 1 is very scenic, as stone lanterns and Buddhist figures line the road. From the highest platform of Yakuoin temple it is just a short climb to the top, where refreshment and souvenir stores are available. If the weather is good, you can even spot Mt Fuji in the distance.

Walking down from the top using Trail 4 takes around half an hour to reach the mid-station. Since this trail is in a southwest-northeast direction, it is very scenic before sunset when orange sunlight shines through the foliage. The highlight of the trail is the wooden bridge that takes you across a valley. You will exit the trail with the big gate to Yakuoin temple on your right-hand side.

Passing the cable car station, Trail 1 leads further downhill to the foot of the mountain. The section right after the chairlift station is quite steep, but as the entire length of Trail 1 is paved, it is not slippery at all. There are resting corners along the trail and halfway down, a small detour leads you to a platform where there are good views of the city below.

Those who have more time could also hike from the top of Mt Takao to Mt Jinba, which is about 18 kilometers away and takes around 3.5 hours to finish.

More info

Find out more about Mount Takao.

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Kenny King Hin Choi

Kenny King Hin Choi @kenny.king.hin.choi

I had spend almost the last 10 years traveling to different corners of the world seldom reached by others as tourists. Iraq, Kosovo, Albania, Bangladesh and Ukraine are among many others. To see and smell a place first handedly is absoulutely differnt from reading and hearing from mass media. Japan has been the country I always aspired to as I first set foot there when I was 14 years old. The rich cultural heritage and freindliness of the people left inside me a wonderful memory. Therefore I was there again when I was 17. I have been recently staying in Germany for my studies, traveling around Europe to experience its diversity and rich history. Yet I still wish I could visit Japan again in the near future, preferably to Hokaiido and Fukuoka. Outside traveling, my hobbit is photography, cycling, sailing and cooking. Honestly Japanese food is one of the best in the world. As a fish lover, I could not resist Japanese crusine. Otherwise, Ramen, Sushi and green tea are all my favourite. When I read cultural studies in the university in Hong Kong, Japan turned out to me as a very speical society. The mentality and popular culture which has affected the world is inspiring. I really hope I could go deeper into this when I got the chance.

Join the discussion

Geraldine Buergel 9 months ago
Looks like a great day trip :D
Sleiman Azizi 9 months ago
If you ask me, one of the best days to be had in Tokyo.
Sleiman Azizi 2 years ago
It's amazing how convenient Takao is when in Tokyo.