Last week I told you that on my last trip to Japan I focused on Tokyo and its surroundings. When it is not the first trip, you have more time to know places that are not so touristy or that at least you do not choose in your first foray into the country.
Thus, one cool and sunny February morning, we decided to march to the Mount takao to get out of the concrete jungle and see the Tokyo megalopolis from afar. Here I leave you all the iPractical information to visit Mount Takao and my experience.
It is located about an hour from the center of Tokyo and it is not such a high mountain measures about 599 meters. But the distance and that height allow some great views and discover how mountainous Japan is in all its geography.
The mountain it is a very popular hiking destination and there are many routes, about eight, that can be followed and are signposted. Unfortunately, almost all the signs are still in Japanese only, but it is enough to locate a little to not get lost. The mount is part of the Meiji no Mori Takao Quasi National Park and in Japanese folklore he is associated with a kami called tengu. A tengu He is a legendary creature, something human, something bird, being something demonic that ultimately became a protector, a spirit of the mountains and forests.
How to get to Mount Takao
From Shinjuku Train Station, in the heart of Tokyo, take the train and in just 50 minutes you arrive. The train belongs to the Keio line and there are semi limited direct trains. The price is 390 yen, about four US dollars and there is service every 20 minutes. They drop you off at Takaosanguchi station.
Also, if you have the Japan Rail Pass and you want to take advantage of it, you can use it: you take in Shinjuku the JR Chuo Line to Takao station and there you connect with Keio. It is a single station and only costs 130 yen. You save the 390 because you use the national Japanese trains. The docking station is built at a height so while you wait for the Keio service you can start taking in the scenery.
After a journey of just three minutes, you arrive at Takaosanguchi station, which belongs to a very picturesque mountain village. You are a few meters from the cableway station, the fastest way to climb but not the only one because of course you can climb walking. I went in February and it was cold so the cableway was the best.
You can pay the round trip, 930 yen, or pay one way for 480 yen and if you want to walk down you do it and if you don't go upstairs you buy the ticket to get off again. The trip is short but there is a super steep part where you are almost vertical. Fantastic! As February is still winter and this year was quite a cold month the snow had been preserved in the mountains so it was a lovely sight.
This cableway operates from 8 am to 5:45 pm although on holidays and vacations its hours of operation are extended. It does not close any day. If it had been spring or summer, maybe I would have leaned towards the chairlift, other lift availableBut in the cold wind I would have frozen. The chairlift has the same price as the cable car but operates between 9 am and 4:30 pm and until 4 pm between December and April.
The truth is that if you go in spring, with the cherry blossoms, or in autumn with its brilliant colors, the chairlift must be great.
Once you get off the cableway you can choose to eat something and then start off. In the vicinity of the station there are some cafes and shops that sell gastronomic souvenirs. There are also the popular vending machines for drinks and many benches to rest. You will see that different routes open and already from that point you have some exceptional panoramic points to take the first photographs.
If you have time there, you can start the tour by visiting the Monkey Park which opens in the morning and does not close any day of the year. Admission is 420 yen. Japan and monkeys are close friends and this is a good place to see them in action. There is an area closed with glass where about 40 monkeys live that do shows several times a day and also a beautiful garden of wild flowers, more than 500 species. I continued my route because it was early and I wanted to take advantage of the sun since Tokyo was always cloudy in the afternoons.
You will see many Japanese, mostly elderly, and I was pleasantly surprised, who are dressed as hikers and they go back and forth up the mountain as if they are 30 years younger. Trail 1 begins at the base of the mountain but the climb is tough, even with its paved sections, so almost all of them start at the top. There are trails that are not paved and not all of them pass through the station the cableway and the chairlift.
Other trails were closed this time because there was snow and they were slippery. The truth is at any time of the year it is a fantastic place, with a lot of wildlife because there are more than 1200 species of plants and animals and insects, between squirrels and monkeys. In spring it is a place full of cherry blossoms, something worth seeing (if you go then I recommend you continue half an hour after the top to the area known as Itchodaira). Here are variety of cherry trees.
And finally if you are not going to move much of Tokyo and want to experience an onsen, a traditional Japanese bath, here you can. There is the Keio Takaosan Onsen Gokurakuyu with its separate bathrooms for men and women. This time I could not enjoy an onsen because I did not want to separate from my husband but if you go with friends it is highly recommended.
Mount Takao is a great destination for an excursion from Tokyo. If you went before 2015 I advise you to come back because the station was completely renovated and it is a warm wooden beauty. On weekends there are many more people, but if you go from Monday to Friday you can enjoy almost alone.