Mount Takao - Just 50 Mins From Tokyo
Just 50 minutes away from Shinjuku Station, Mt Takao is an easily-accessed, natural retreat from Tokyo - and is now complete with its own hot spring spa!
The new hot springsCurrently undergoing exciting developments, 27 October 2015 saw the opening of a new hot spring spa on Mt Takao – a popular hiking destination for visitors travelling from Tokyo.
These new hot spring spa (or ‘onsen’ as they are known in Japanese), constructed by the Keio Corporation, has been designed in harmony with the natural environment. Visitors will have access to seven different bathing pools:
Cypress bath – tiny micro bubbles in this forest-feel bath remove impurities from the bathers’ skin
Themed bath – special bath which will change periodically depending on the season
Sauna – work up a sweat before dipping into one of the cool-water spas
Outdoor stone-pitch bath – a carbonated hot spring (rare in Japan) which aims to promote healthy blood flow and enhance bathers’ metabolisms
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 sooth 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 afterwards
As Japan enters its different seasons, the view of the mountain from the hot spring pools will be a constantly changing kaleidoscope; from pink-dusted trees during cherry blossom season, to fiery amber reds in autumn. Alongside the bathing pools, there will also be a tatami space where visitors can lie down and unwind, as well as a massage zone to soothe those who have been taking long hikes in the mountains.
The hot springs will be located next to Takaosanguchi Station, which opened on 24 April 2015. The concept of being in harmony with nature was the inspiration for the new station building design, which was redeveloped by revered Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. His design used natural materials to compliment the surroundings and create feelings of peace and serenity for visitors.
Amazing experiences on Mt TakaoVisitors keen to try something out of the ordinary can take part in one of various Buddhist activities on the mountain. Not one to try at home, ‘fire walking’ at the base of Mt Takao takes place on on the second Sunday of March each year, and willing participants can join in with monks who brave the smouldering fire with their bare feet. The ritual is intended to burn away all impurities, and the ‘yamabushi’ (monks of the mountain) who take part pray for protection against sickness. Attendees should be warned – you’ll need to bring your own towel to wash off afterwards!
Alternatively, for something a little more relaxing, ‘waterfall asceticism’ or ‘waterfall meditation’ is offered at two of the mountain’s waterfalls; Ja-taki and Biwa-taki (the word ‘taki’ means ‘waterfall’ in Japanese). Don traditional white Buddhist clothing whilst standing beneath the naturally flowing water reciting mantras for a truly mind-clearing experience. Visitors can get involved in this traditional practice each month on the following dates:
Ja-taki: first Saturday of each month, 17th and 27th.
Biwa-taki: first Saturday of each month, 18th and 28th.
Take a look at this website for more information on booking the experience.
At 599m, Mount Takao is a popular spot for hiking fans and is only 50 minutes by train from Tokyo’s buzzing Shinjuku station. Hiking trails up the mountain take around 90 minutes from base to summit and on pass through forests of beech and 100 year-old cedars, as well as wild flowers and mischievous monkeys. Alternatively, the mountain’s cable car provides a much speedier option for those who just want to sit back and enjoy the view. From the cable car’s last stop you can get out and explore the observation deck, which offers fantastic views across Tokyo, and from June until October turns into a lofty beer-garden, where climbers keen to rest and take in the views can sit back with all-you-can-drink beers and delve into the all-you-can-eat buffet.
The new station also has a restaurant with seating for up to 160 people, as well as a souvenir shop offering products from the local area. In order to welcome and encourage tourists, the station area provides free Wi-Fi, as well as foreign credit card compatible ATMs.
For a natural retreat within easy reach of Tokyo, Mount Takao’s new hot spring area is a great day trip for visitors. The hot springs will be open year round, from 8am until 11pm. The Michelin Green Guide to Japan gives Mt. Takao it’s maximum 3-star rating, saying it is the perfect place for visitors to Tokyo who are looking to sample the joys of Japan’s natural environment. Now, with the addition of hot springs, Mt. Takao will make an even better retreat from the city! See the Takao Onsen website for more details.