Arriving at Takaosanguchi, which literally means “Mt. Takao Entrance,” you will immediately see what appear to be large hills that are either covered in lush greenery or changing autumn colors, depending on the season. As you walk towards the mountain, however, you will start to realize that these hills aren’t hills at all. And if you are an amateur hiker—like I was—you’ve got your work cut out for you.
You’ll first come to a roundabout and notice a small cable car station with chair lifts. “Yay!” you might think, but that’s not why you’ve come to Takao, is it? So head to the left side of the roundabout to take a look at the map. This map clearly labels which trail is the most difficult, easiest, and least time consuming. Each trail has its own advantages, however, and you have to find the trail that suits your personal goals best. You can, of course, proceed up one trail and come down another, but don’t forget the cable cars if you’re tired! One thing to note is that some of the trails don’t lead to the cable car/chair lift stations, so you’ve been warned.
A Brief Overview of the Trails
Trail #1 is for your casual hiker and amateurs, and it’s also great for tourists. This trail is bound to be the most crowded no matter when you go. Trail #1 has much more to offer than just a great outdoors experience. Both Mt. Takao’s Monkey Park and the highly prided “Takao-Sugi,” (Octopus-Root) cedar trees, whose roots grow in a fashion similar to an octopus’ tentacles, are located here. After you pass the trees, you’ll notice the path branches off onto Trail #4, which hosts a suspension bridge. However, you can continue on Trail #1 until you reach Takao-san Yakuo-in Temple, a beautiful Buddhist temple where you can pray for eternal happiness, or a safe journey up/down Mt. Takao. After that, the summit is only a stone’s throw away.
For a true walk among nature, proceed along Trail #6 at the bottom of the mountain. If you’re climbing in the spring and early summer, there will be a variety of beautiful little violets blooming along the path. Next you’ll run into Biwa Falls, a small waterfall that is said to resemble the sound of the “biwa,” —a Japanese musical instrument. Take a break here to snap a few pictures, or just relax near the peaceful serenity of the waterfall. A little further along the hike, a mountain stream flowing along the trail will accompany you on your journey. There are also a number of interesting varieties of vegetation, which is perfect for botanical lovers. At the end of this trail, you’ll have to merge into other trails in order to reach the summit—so you can finish off your wonderful hike with a beautiful view of Tokyo.
Cherry Blossoms in the spring.
Beer Garden in the summer (Opens around the end of June until mid October)
The changing of autumn leaves in the fall
“Diamond Fuji,” when the sun sets directly over Fuji, in the winter
Mount Takao is located in Tokyo, Japan just outside of Tokyo via the Keio 京王線 Line from Shinjuku station.(新宿駅) Take the Keio Line Special Express to Kitano Station (北野) (approximately 40 minutes) and then simply get on the train directly across from you and head for Takaosanguchi or 高尾山口 (approximately 13minutes).