Mount Takao: 6 Peak Highlights of an Ancient Mountain

mount-takao

Mount Takao, otherwise known as Takaosan, offers a convenient and calm retreat from the hustle of the capital that is only one hour away from central Tokyo. Full of history and tradition, Mount Takao has been a center of religious devotion for centuries—and the climate, perfect all year-round but ideal for summer, offers a cool escape from the heat and humidity. Whether you need to refresh yourself during vacation or just need a break from the exhausting frenzy that is Tokyo, there is something on Mount Takao for you. Keep reading to learn about the wonders that await you on this ancient mountain and discover why it is one of the best day trips from Tokyo.

Mount Takao is one of the Best Day Trips from Tokyo

The Summit

mount takao summit
Photo by Aapo Haapanen on Flickr

At the top of the mountain, you can take in the vista at Mount Takao Visitors Center, which is a large area with tables and seats where you can relax and take pictures. On clear days you can see Mount Fuji to the west but even if Fuji is not visible, the view surrounding Takao is worthwhile in itself. It is the best place to view Tokyo at a distance because you get to experience the real vastness of the largest city in the world.

Yakuo-in Temple

yaku-in-temple
Photo by cotaro70s on Flickr

Mount Takao is a sacred mountain and people have come to this temple to worship for more than 1,200 years. Here you will see the symbol of the mountain “tengu,” a long-nosed, demon-like character, which is associated with the ancient Japanese practice of mountain worship in exchange for special powers. You can also make a reservation beforehand to experience meditation under a waterfall, which is available 5 days a month. It is only about 20 minutes walking from the Takaosan cable car station.

Hours & cost: Always open, admission free.

Beer Mount

beer mount
Photo by Ayuru Sorawo on Flickr

From the months of June to October you can enjoy a laid-back dining atmosphere in the mountains complete with breathtaking views of the landscape below. Watch twinkling lights fill the sky in the evening, or try to catch a glimpse of the elusive Mount Fuji during the day.

Hours on weekdays: from 3 pm to 9 pm, except during O-bon from August 11th to 16th, when it opens at 1 pm.
Hours on weekends
: 2:30 pm to 9 pm (June 15th to July 10th). 1 pm to 9 pm (July 16th to October 15th)
Cost: around 3,500 yen for adults, with lower costs for students and infants

Keio Takaosan Onsen Gokurakuyu

Nothing can ever compare to the calm feeling that comes with soaking in hot water after a long day of hiking. But don’t think you need the excuse of hiking to enjoy the baths – they are worthy of a visit whatever you’ve done that day.

Hours: 8 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Cost: 1,000 yen, 1,200 yen on holidays.

Monkey Park

There are many unique animal cafes in Tokyo that offer a range from the exotic iguana to the miniature hedgehog, but so far there are no places where you can get close to monkeys. Here, you can see large groups of monkeys swinging from trees and actually tackling each other! The park is less than 5 minutes from the cable car exit at the top.

Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. (December to February), 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (March to April), 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (May to November).
Cost: 420 yen.

Trick Art Museum

trick-art-museum
Photo by Dom Pates on Flickr

This unique museum is a fun addition to your day and offers you a change of pace—that pace being slow and leisurely. Take your time browsing through and capturing lots of pictures of things that are deceiving to the eye, like upside down rooms and 3-D illusions.

Hours: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. (April to November), 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. (December to March).
Cost: 1,300 yen.

 

Getting to Mount Takao and Surrounding

Going to Mount Takao

Using the trains, getting to Mount Takao takes approximately 60 minutes from the central area of Tokyo and is 400 yen one way. The first trains run around 5 a.m., and the last train from Takaosan Station leaves close to midnight, giving you plenty of time for a day trip. Your train options are:

  1. The Keio Takao line, a convenient 45-minute trip from Shinjuku station. The Takaosan Waribiki Joshaken is a discount ticket with the return, lift and cable car tickets all included. It costs 1,480 from the Shinjuku station and which you can also buy on stations on the Keio line.
  2. Anywhere on the JR Chuo line, which goes straight to Takao station without need to transfer. This is a convenient option for those holding a JR pass.

To the top of Mount Takao

chair-lift
Photo by toooooool on Flickr

Once you arrive at Takao, the easiest ways to get to the top are:

  1. Hiking: All hiking courses, six in total, start at the foot of Mount Takao; it generally takes around 2 hours to reach the top. Many people choose to take a chair life or cable car halfway and walk the rest to make it less of a trek.
  2. Cable car: This takes a quick 6 minutes from the base to the summit. Coming from Takao station, simply turn right and follow signs. Hours: 8 a.m. – around 6 p.m. Cost: 480 yen one way, 930 yen return ticket.
  3. Chair lift: Takes 12 minutes. Because it puts you in touch with the natural surroundings, the chair lift is honestly a bit more exciting than the cable car. The chair lift is next to the cable car entrance, up 2 sets of stairs. Hours: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Cost: Same as the cable car listed above.

     

Stay Connected Even at the Top of Mount Takao

The variety of great things to do, low price, and suitability for families and smaller groups makes Mount Takao one of the best Tokyo daytrips around. And while you may think that being on top of a mountain means little or no internet access, don’t worry—getting the services you need is actually easy. In fact, by renting SIM Card or Pocket WiFi with Sakura Mobile, you don’t have to be inconvenienced at all because Docomo Network offers the widest coverage in Japan. So don’t think twice! Stay connected using Sakura Mobile and enjoy everything this sacred mountain has to offer.

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