Mount Takao
Hachioji: Park/garden
Mount Takao: Hachioji
Hachioji / Park/garden
Cable car, chair lift: Y900 roundtrip
Monkey park and wild plant garden: Y400
Average visit time: 3-4 hours

Located less than an hour from Shinjuku station, Mount Takao is a popular hiking destination, drawing some 2.5 million visitors every year. There are several different trails to choose from, and the climb from base to summit, standing 599 meters above sea level, takes around 90-100 minutes. Along the way are beech and cedar groves, wild flowers and some resident animals - tanuki, flying squirrels, mink, weasels, wild boars and monkeys as well as numerous birds and insects.

Almost at the top of the mountain is the picturesque Yakuoin Temple, which was originally built in 744. The temple hosts various festivals and other events through the year, and nearby are a few places to grab a quick snack as well as scenic viewing spots, so this is a good place to take a break on the way to the summit. There are also casual restaurants at the summit, shops selling takeaway food for picnics and a small visitor center.

Cable cars and chair lifts travel halfway up the mountain from the base, cutting climbing time to around 45 minutes, but note that these can get crowded on weekends during peak seasons, with long waits. Round-trip fare is Y900, and service generally stops around sunset.

Close to the upper cable-car and chair-life stations is the Monkey Park and Wild Plant Garden (042-661-2381), which is open from 10am-4pm and charges an admission fee of Y400. The Monkey Park is home to a community of around fifty monkeys, some of which perform rope-climbing tricks for the benefit of visitors. The Wild Plant Garden shows off some 300 different plant species, including dozens of flowering plants.

Also near the cable-car station is the 600-seat Beer Mount beer garden, which operates from early July through early October. The restaurant is open from 3-9pm on weekdays and 1-9pm weekends, and offers a two-hour buffet with open bar for Y3300 (men) or Y3000 (women).

Three trails start at the base and climb to the summit, and another four trails start in the middle of the mountain. Trail #1 (Omotesando Trail) is the most popular, and is paved most of the way, passing the cable-car and chair-lift stations and Yakuoin Temple on the way to the top. There are three rest stops and eight toilets along the route.

The more rugged Trail #6 (Biwa Waterfall Trail) travels from base to summit along a mountain stream, and requires a little more care, as there are many narrow sections and drop-offs without guardrails. This trail is used only for climbing, not for descent. The Inariyama Trail (Panoramic Ridge Trail), an alternate route to the top, offers nice views but can be slippery. A large, detailed map of the various trails can be found just opposite Takaosanguchi train station at the base of the mountain.

Mount Takao is especially popular starting in mid-November, when autumn colors are at their peak, and during cherry-blossom season in mid-April.

Bonus album on Facebook.

Hachioji, Takomachi 2176.
Takaosanguchi station (Keio line)
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