Mt. Takao Day Hike

Takao-san, a 599-meter mountain located west of Tokyo, is just an hour away by train. It offers nature hikes with six trails. Its chief attraction is the temple Yaku-o-in, best known for the Hiwatari Matsuri (fire-crossing ceremony), which takes place on the 2nd Sunday in March.

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One early autumn day, I, together with two co-teachers, just hopped on a train from Yoga Station (the closest station to our place) to Takaosanguchi Station. It took an hour and a half and two transfers to get there.

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Right in front of the station is a large map showing the six numbered trails leading to the summit. There is a cable car and a chair lift if you want to get up the mountain quickly and spend more time taking pictures and admiring the surroundings. I saved time and energy by riding the chair lift halfway up.

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The Japanese have regarded Mount Takao as a sacred mountain since the Edo period. An impressive Buddhist temple, Yakuo-in, was established there in 744 by the priest Gyoki. This lies in Trail 1, about a 20-minute walk from Takaosan Station, and is paved all the way from the trail head to the temple.

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It’s not a problem if you didn’t bring any snacks or drinks because there are vending machines along the way. It’s only in Japan where these machines sprout literally anywhere and everywhere.

Lunch meant going to Momijiya for tempura soba. This restaurant specializes in grated yam (tororo) soba and was established in the Meiji era, in 1894 (Meiji 27). A menu in English is provided if you need one, and a bowl of soba will cost between ¥900 and ¥1,200.

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If I didn’t have to meet someone back in Tokyo, I would have ended the day of sightseeing by rejuvenating at the Keio Takaosan Onsen Gokurakuyu. But I can’t complain because my first hike made me go home with a spring in my step, thankful that I was able to relax in peace and tranquility.

How to Get There

From Shinjuku Station, the Keio Line to Takaosanguchi Station takes only 52 minutes and cocts ¥390. We came from Yoga Station, so we took the Den-entoshi Line to Mizonokuchi (7 min), transferred to Nambu Line towards Bubaigawara Station (26 min), then finally to the Keio Line towards Takaosanguchi Station (28 min).

There is a discount ticket, which combines a round-trip ticket from any station on the Keio Line or Inokashira Line to Takaosanguchi Station with a round-trip or one-way ticket for either the Mt. Takao cable car or chair lift.

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