Mount Takao or Takao-san is a famous day trip destination from Tokyo. For roughly an hour and 390 yen, you can get away from the busy streets of Tokyo to a peaceful and serene environment in Takaosan.
The nearest station to Mount Takao is Keio Line’s Takaosanguchi station. I totally got lost in Shinjuku station trying to find the Keio Line. I did not know YET that I have to go out of the JR gates to go to the Keio Line. Shinjuku is like a labyrinth of train lines and I bet there are thousand others that got lost there. Oh, well!
I arrived Takaosanguchi station at 9:30 am. I decided to go try the onsen first. The Keio Takaosan Onsen Gokurakuyu is right by the station and entrance fee is at 1000 yen. An onsen is basically a Japanese hot spring. Usually, people would climb the mountain first then relax in the onsen after but as this is my first time to try bathing in an onsen, I wanted to avoid the crowd.
There is a restaurant inside the onsen building so I ordered and ate takoyaki. After that I proceeded to the bath area. There are segregated baths for men and women. Inside the women’s baths, there are about 6 pools with different temperatures and a sauna room. One of the six pools is a special pool which changes ‘theme’ after a certain period. If I am not wrong, it was a green tea water when I was there.
There are rules and etiquette you have to follow when you bathe in an onsen. You have to clean yourself first before you bathe, any piece of clothing is not allowed and tattoos are not allowed as well. After the initial shock of seeing naked women walking and chatting about, it was actually a very relaxing experience.
After the onsen, I am ready to climb Mount Takao.
Of course, I will not climb it entirely. There is a cable car and chair lift that can take me halfway up the mountain so I only need to climb half of it (wink wink!)
Both the cable car and chair lift station takes a few minutes walk from the Takaosanguchi station. There are many interesting shops and restaurants along the way. One-way ride for the cable car or chair lift costs 480 yen for adults while a two way-ride costs 930 yen.
As for me, I purchased a one-day Keio Line Mount Takao Discount Ticket at Shinjuku Station. This costs 1380 yen and covers the round trip fare between Shinjuku and Takaosanguchi station, as well as one-way ride each on the cable car and chair lift.
I decided to take the chair lift going up and take the cable car going down. Although there is no harness or any bar for protection and there is only a net on the forest floor to catch you in case you fall off, the chair lift ride is not scary and in fact, quite enjoyable. The foliage on the way is very lush and I bet this would look great in spring and fall.
On the way to the summit, there is a Monkey Park and Wildflower Garden which you can visit for 400 yen. You can pass here if you follow Trail 1 of the hiking trails.
The Yakuoin Temple, a Buddhist temple established in 744, is also located along Trail 1 of Mount Takao.
Believe me when I say the climb was not easy, especially that parts of the trail are slippery and muddy. It is very admirable that many families are actually climbing and even toddlers are walking on their own!
I finally reached the summit (599.15 meters above sea level!) at about 12 noon and I was welcomed with this:
View from Takao-sanEarlier crowds gather here for picnics and bring their own food but there are actually restaurants in the summit. There are also tourist groups lounging about probably having their lunch as well before they hike back down.
So I hiked back down and took the cable car back to Takaosanguchi Station. By the way, the town at the foot of Mount Takao is called Hachioji and near Takaosanguchi station you can also visit the Trick Art Museum and Takao 599 Museum. I went to the Takao 599 Museum (it’s free!) where they showcase species of flora and fauna that can be found in the area. There is also a café inside the museum.
I headed back to Shinjuku at around two in the afternoon. I recommend going to Takao-san early in the morning as the weather might be more favourable and the crowd more bearable.