Have you heard of 599 meters’ high Mt. Takao which has been a destination of many tourists and hikers? 2007 was a remarkable year for the mountain as it was registered with Michelin with 3 stars activity spot. You will be amazed by the number of annual visitors of 2 million – it is officially the world’s top visited mountain. One of the reasons for the honored 3 stars is the convenience, with just an hour train ride directly from Shinjuku, the very heart of Tokyo.
Routes for everyone
Hiking might sound bit challenging for some. But don’t worry, Mt. Takao has 7 different routes for you to choose from depending on your level and your expectation. Although 599 meters wouldn’t be considered as a super high mountain, it is still a mountain.
For those who haven’t been able to gym for a long time, try the course 1 which is made for the beginners. Course 2 & 5 go round the mountain making you discover different faces of the mountain, and normally takes longer to get to the top. Course 3 & 4 diverts from the course 2, where the course 4 has the famous suspension bridge on the way. Course 6 and Course Mt. Inari go completely different ways than the rest, and with the former, you will see a beautiful waterfall while you get to climb two mountains without even noticing if you choose the latter. Don’t even feel like you can do any of them? Relax. There is a gondola to ride if that pleases you!
It’s not all about hiking
If you go straight to the top, it would take around 90 minutes to finish on average. But there are many stops you should take a break at Mt. Takao to recharge your body and soul.
#1. Hello monkeys
If you would like to see monkeys, the 40-years-old monkey park will welcome you with over 60 monkeys. You will get to see cute baby monkeys if you are lucky too. Surrounding environment is a forest that has four different faces according to the season. Autumn can show you the breath-taking view of colored leaves, and many photographers come here to get their best shots of the monkeys with red and yellow sceneries. Nature is abundant too, where over 1,000 different kinds of plants spread across the mountain’s soil and 65 new species recognized only specific to Mt. Takao.
#2. Octopus in the mountain!?
Hiking through the course 1, you will first see the so called “Octopus Cedar Tree”. Its root curved itself when the tree was about to be hewed down and got into today’s shape that looks like a giant octopus. Next to the Octopus Cedar, there is a statue of an octopus (this time it is meant to be an octopus). For some reason, this statue is very popular and you will see people are even queuing to touch the octopus. Playing with words in Japanese, the expression of “Hipparidako” means something is in high demand whilst the literarily depicts the legs of an octopus being pulled. This statue is named just like that expression “Hipparidako”, and hence people come to stroke the surface praying for their success in business.
#3. Spiritual and purification experience
If you are after for more spiritual experience, try Mt. Takao Yakuo-in whose history goes back to as old as 744. It has been worshiped for the prosperity of the power as well as the training destination for the dedicated ascetic monks. You will feel its overwhelming atmosphere of presence as it stands, and it’s definitely a must-visit place if you go to Mt. Takao.
#4. Good food and drinks too?
Photo Credit:Hajime NAKANO
For sure. The most famous local dish in Takao is Japanese soba. There are many Japanese soba places here and there as soon as you get off the Takao Station. Each restaurant has own flavors which they are proud of, and the toppings also vary so that you can choose your favorite taste.
Photo Credit:Yusuke Kawasaki
Limited to the summer period (June – October), there is also a beer garden open for everybody. So called “Mt. Takao Beer Mount” has 50 years of history. You can see Tokyo Skytree and as far as Yokohama city from the beer garden while enjoying 2 hour unlimited drinking package. Who would say no to this!
Feel the Mt. Fuji through Mt. Takao
Photo Credit:Dick Thomas Johnson
There is an interesting story about these two mountains that not so many people know. They are physically far apart and each of them are obviously independent, but it is said that the two mountains are connected through the “Dragon Chain (龍脈)”, supposedly where ‘Chi ’ (life energy in an Eastern spiritual term) flows. At the time of the construction of the Edo Castle, feng shui was used to locate the best spot for it to stand. And the Castle was erected where the power of water from Mt. Takao (Tokyo Bay area) and the power of fire from Mt. Fuji were flowing into. For this reason, Mt. Takao is believed to be connected with Mt. Fuji, and climbing one spiritually denotes climbing the other. This is just one of many other stories to make this mountain special. Now, experience it by yourself for this amazing Mother Nature creation.
[map lat=”35.625121″ lng=”139.243657″][/map]
Address: Takaomachi, Hachioji City, Tokyo
Access: Walking distance from Keio Line Takaosanguchi Station
Website: Mt. Takao (Japanese)