Just a one-hour trip west from Tokyo, the sacred Mt. Takao offers a unique blend of Japanese culture and beautiful nature. The area boasts a variety of hiking courses, historic temples and an exhilarating view from the summit. Because of this convenient location, visitors can enjoy its natural beauty and the many other attractions all in a day trip from Tokyo.
In recognition of its magnificent beauty, the inaugural 2009
edition of the Michelin Green Guide to Japan, the famous French travel
guidebook, awarded Mt. Takao and Mt. Fuji the maximum of three stars,
the best possible rating for a sight.
The area is designated as Meiji-no-mori Takao Quasi-National Park. Emperor Shomu ordered Yakuo-in Temple to be built halfway up this mountain in 744, and people have worshiped at the temple ever since. If you make a reservation, you can sample shojin-ryori (Buddhist Vegetarian food) at the Yakuo-in Temple (reservations can only be made in Japanese so please ask front desk staff at your hotel to phone 042-661-1115).
At the mountain is a statue of a 'tengu,' a long-nosed mythical figure. Tengu is believed to be a deified image of a man who mastered the rigorous ascetic disciplinary customs associated with an ancient Japanese practice of mountain worship to acquire magical and spiritual powers. This statue is now a symbol of Mt. Takao. Between April and October, you may at times see ascetic devotees participating in a religious practice that includes standing beneath the cascading waters of the Biwa or Hebi Falls.
There are six well-maintained hiking courses starting from the foot of Mt. Takao and leading up to the 600-meter-high mountaintop, each with a different theme, allowing visitors to learn about the nature of Takao. You can enjoy viewing over 500 different kinds of plants along these paths. You can also ride halfway up the mountain by cable car or lift, so that the remaining climb to the top is not so difficult, taking about one-and-a-half hours. In summer a beer garden with magnificent views is open at the half-way point. Near the cable car terminal is the Mt. Takao Natural Zoo and Botanical Garden, where you will be greeted by monkeys that roam freely throughout the area.
Access: 1hr from Tokyo to Takao Station by JR Chuo Line, and 5mins from Takao to Takao-san-guchi Station by Keio Line; Or, 45mins on the Keio Line limited express from Shinjuku Station to Takao-san-guchi Station.