View from Mt Takao
Takao-san Guchi Station- near base of Mt Takao
Tokyo is unfairly viewed as a concrete jungle by some travelers but the more time I spent in Tokyo, the more gardens, parks and nature I saw. And people living in Tokyo can access nearby nature hikes rather easily.
Near the end of my last trip to Tokyo, I went for a hike on Mt. Takao. It's takes about an hour to get there from Shinjuku Station to Takao-san Guchi on the Keio Takao line and costs 390 yen one way. That's less than $4 US.
Mt. Takao is still located in the Metropolitan Tokyo District so it attracts a lot of hikers. There is a festive atmosphere as you arrive at the Takao-san Guchi Station, near Mt Takao's base, and it feels like you're going to an amusement park or zoo rather than for a hike.
The Tokyo Handy Guide describes the hike up to Mount Takao as a relaxing hike. It's well worth it and a beautiful hike, but relaxing is not a word I'd use to describe it, especially if you take the paved path up (path 1). I thought reaching the midway point was pretty challenging, but then again I did see toddlers on it, so it might be I'm out of shape living in flat Florida.
They do though have a cable car and also a chair lift to get to the midway point and the rest of the hike is not too bad. Be sure to take water and be prepared to carry what garbage you create because like most of Japan, there are few garbage cans for the public. And if you find any trash cans, it will likely just be for bottles and cans.
Along the hike there are some sights to see like The Yakuo-in Temple Complex. It's one of the three head temples of the Shingon-shu Chisan-ha Sect. Visitors stop at the temple to pray to Shinto-Buddhist Tengu (Mountain Gods) for good fortune. It's beautiful and the architecture is wonderful.
Japanese Macaques at Monkey Park
Monkey Park Show
Along the hiking path there is an entrance to Monkey Park . It has a 400 yen admission that also includes a little show and a wild plant garden. Monkey Park was the only part of the hike I wasn't too thrilled about because I couldn't really see the Japanese Macaques up close. The Wild Plant Garden looks like it would be nicer in Spring or Fall but it was still pretty nice in the summer.
After Monkey Park there are some very old and big cedar trees lining the trail. The photo didn't do the tree justice as the trunk was huge in person.
When you reach the top of Mt Takoa, there's some refreshments (including beer) and a good viewing area.
Also, there are plenty of restaurants on the streets surrounding Mt Takao that feature the local specialty of soba noodles and ground mountain yam. We had a nice dinner before heading back.
All in all, it makes for a great hike. It's crowded a lot of weekends, so go during the week if you want less crowds.