Only an hour away from downtown Tokyo, Mount Takao is one of the most popular choices for day-trippers and hikers alike. Also known as ‘Takaosan’, the mountain is designated as protected within the Meiji no Mori Takao Quasi-National Park. The lush foliage around the mountain and the national park make it a local favorite for the annual koyo or autumn leaves viewing.
The 599-meter tall mountain has eight numbered hiking trails leading up to the summit. The full hike takes around 90 minutes but can be cut short by taking the ropeway or funicular ride halfway up the mountain. Stop along trial no.1 to visit Yakuoin Temple, a temple part of the Shingon Buddhist sect.
Along the same trail is the Takaosan Natural Zoo & Botanical Garden. The zoo is home to 60 Japanese Macaque monkeys that live in their natural habitat. The botanical garden also showcases more than 300 species of native plants that were once found on Mt. Takao.
At the base of Mt. Takao is the Takao 599 Museum and Takaosan Onsen. The free-to-enter museum offers insights into the history of the sacred mountain and its inhabitants: native animals as well as the unique flora and fauna. Takaosan Onsen is a natural hot spring located right next to the train station. After a long day’s hike, the onsen is a haven for weary travelers.
Mt. Takao also has a wealth of local food options in the area — such as Tororo Soba: soba noodles topped with grated yam. Traditional Buddhist cuisine is also available at Yakuoin upon special reservation.
Founded in 744, Yakuoin Temple is a Buddhist temple devoted to tengu. Tengu are bird-like mythical creatures said to be messengers of the gods, living on sacred mountains to protect it from evil. Two tengu statues stand guard at Yakuoin Temple, one with a long pointed nose and one with a crow’s beak. Visitors interested in shugendo or Buddhist practices are welcome to participate in asceticism, as well as try shojin ryori (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine) with advance reservation.
As per its name, the Natural Zoo hosts 60 monkeys in their natural mountain habitat. The playful Japanese Macaques perform tricks at shows throughout various times of the day. The botanical garden is also home to a massive collection of more than 300 different species of native plants. Both facilities are included within the same entrance ticket.
Located at the base of the mountain, visitors can learn more about Mt. Takao at the Takao 599 museum. The free-to-enter museum aims to educate visitors on Mt. Takao’s unique ecology and inhabitants. Contrary to its traditional surroundings, the interior of the Takao 599 Museum is chic and modern.Discover more
Next to the train station is Takaosan Onsen, a natural hot spring facility. With cypress baths, a sauna, outdoor rock baths and more - Takaosan Onsen is the perfect place to rest after a long day’s hike. Other than baths, the facility also offers massage services and has an in-house restaurant serving up local fare.Discover more