In my recent trip to Tokyo back in December, I only had time for one other exploration (apart from my Kamakura/Enoshima stay).
After a long selection, the choice was between Nikko and Mt Takao. I would have gone to Nikko if it snowed (wishful thinking as it was only early December), but sadly there wasn’t any chance of snow and it was a lot pricier should we have gone to Nikko instead. Visiting Mount Takao turns out to be an awesome option as it was nearer and it only required half a day, which means that I could spend the remaining half of the day exploring the beautiful Christmas illuminations later that evening.
In case I get a little longwinded, here’s a summary of what I did, so you can skip the rest.
Schedule for the Day
[9:45am] Train to Takao Station via Chuo Line from Tokyo Station
[11:02am] Arrive at Takao Station
[11:15am] Lunch at Takao Rengaya (Black Pork Tonkatsu)
[12:17pm] Train from Takao Station to Takaosanguchi Station
[12:22pm] Arrive at Takaosanguchi Station
[12:33pm] Took Chair Lift
[12:49pm] Alight from Chair Lift
Hiked up to the peak via Route 1 (easiest route)
Visit Takao-san Yakuo-in Temple along the way
Descended via Route 4 (Suspension Bridge)
[3:04pm] Took Chair Lift
[3:43pm] Took train from Takaosanguchi
[4:01pm] Took train from Takao Station
[4:58pm] Arrive at Tokyo Station
Amount Spent – 2,800Y
920Y x 2 – 2-way train transport from Tokyo Station to Takao Station
960Y – 1 set of return tickets from Takao Station to Takaosanguchi Station + 1 set of return chairlift/cable car
Purchase the Mount Takao Ticket Set (@ the ticket machine of Takao Station) and enjoy 20% OFF prices.
Instructions on how to buy tickets from machine: https://www.keio.co.jp/english/tickets/pdf/discount_mttakao.pdf
Pricing without set package: 1,190Y = 930Y (2-way Chairlift) + 130Y x 2 (Train)
Mt Takao Guide (PDF): https://www.keio.co.jp/english/sightseeing/pdf/mt_takao_guide_je.pdf
My long-winded experience
We only set off from our comfortable accommodation at 9:20am because it was too comfortable to get out of bed. That’s the irony in choosing a hotel room too comfortable! Initially, the plan was to finish the mountain before lunch but oh wells, it was nice to nua and laze around a little longer.
From Tokyo Station (which was within walking distance of our accom), we took the Chuo Main Line (90 mins) which brought us to Takao Station. By the time we reached Takao Station, I was a little hungry since I only snacked a little for breakfast.
After walking around the station area, we settled for a tonkatsu restaurant Takao Rengaya which had a rating of 4.7 stars on google maps! Despite spending a lot for this trip, greediness took me over and I ended up ordering an expensive cheese tonkatsu (2,280Y)which is damn bloody awesome. Sure, it was pretty expensive but it came with many side dishes, including sashimi slices (top left of the photo below). Turns out that I couldn’t finish everything because the serving was simply too big..
My friend on the other hand, ordered the sliced ginger pork which turns out to be rather delicious too. I guess google ratings can be somewhat trusted after all!
After the meal, we bought the set tickets (20% cheaper if you buy together) from the ticket machine at Takao Station. You will receive 4 tickets – 2 for the train rides and 2 for the chair lift/cable car. Well, the chair lift/cable car ticket is not compulsory by the way. Should your fitness level be good enough and that time permits, you can actually climb up and down Mt Takao. Anyway, I didn’t even consider the hike as my friend who went 2 weeks earlier said that the climb from base to the chair lift station was pretty boring – like there isn’t much scenery (or autumn foliage) and she said that its better to save time and take the chair lift/cable car.
Anyway, upon reaching Takaosanguchi Station, turn right and continue walking for about 10 minutes and you should see the entrance. As this mountain is a very popular hike, I’m sure you can follow the crowd and most people would be heading the same direction anyway.
I read on TripAdvisor that the ski lift was a little unsafe for tall people and I kind of understood why after I was on it. There are certain areas where you had to lift your legs up (or rather I fear that my legs will hit the ‘ground’) as the distance between the moving chair and ‘ground’ was pretty short. Furthermore, the chairlifts do not have any safety bar which means that it is very easy to fly forward. Also, the chairlifts that I usually see for ski resorts are usually not so high. The steepness of the chairlift and duration of time spent on the chairlift (about 15 mins) was very long. It felt like it was never gonna end and we were freezing and holding on to our camera, handphone and GoPro for dear life. I held on to the side metal bar tightly and my hands were shivering when I was trying to take a selfie. The fear was there but then again, I’m pretty timid so it might be no-kick for the average person.
For me, the descent was scarier than the ascend as you kind of imagine yourself ‘rolling down’ if you really do end up falling. Along the way, there’s also photo spot where the staff will take a photo fo you (and then sell to you at the end).
Despite my panicky heart, the view of the surroundings from the chairlift was beautiful.
Really love the contouring mountains view.
Anyway, so if you’re talking photos, it’s better to sit on the left side if you’re ascending up.
Upon reaching the station at the midway mark of Mt Takao, the only way up is via walking. If you’re taking Route 1, the path is paved nicely and you’ll be walking on road-like surface. We even see people walking their dogs. On the way up, you’ll walk past several food stands, a restaurant, a temple. Just follow the signage and continue walking. There’s quite a bit of stairs at the temple area but no worries about it, take your time and you’ll slowly make your way up! It shouldn’t take you more than 30-45 minutes to reach the summit, even with occasional stops for photo taking.
Note: the peak of autumn is usually mid to end november. When I visited in early December, the colours were fading already. In fact, I was pretty lucky to catch the last few days of fall.
When you reach the top, you will see a sign (which i forgotten to take a photo of). It was about 2PM when we reached and the sun was pretty glaring. I reckon that the view will be better earlier in the day when the sun rays are not so harsh.
Also, you can even spot Mt Fuji from the top, if it wasn’t a cloudy and sunny day.
I didn’t have any chance to sight Fuji-san but my friend said it was around that area and I kind of cheated my eyes to believe I saw the silhouette.
Anyway, the tip is you can always scroll through IG location tags to see the latest update here (There’s a lot of snow in Takao-san these days).
On the way down, we took route 4 which brings us to a suspension bridge. For other route options and difficulty level, do refer to this link.
Initially, we were slightly sceptical on this path because it was dirt tracks and I wasn’t confident of whether the path was muddy or not.
You can check out what it looks like in my video (03:15)
Once again, apologies for not taking more photos on my trip. I was focusing more on my IG stories..
The best part about rote 4 is that.. IT IS NOT CROWDED AT ALL! I think we barely saw more than 10 faces as we descended. Most were climbing uphill and the steepness on dirt path is no joke. If you’re an amateur/casual hiker like me, just stick with route 1 on your way up! The path on route 4 is not barricaded and sometimes a little narrow. You need to be careful with each step and not have wobbly knees =/
The end of Route 4 will bring you back to the cable car/ chairlift station.
I took home a fallen souvenir with me that afternoon. Initially, I didn’t want to do it but I thought that it would be nice as a little souvenir. I did not pluck it from the trees but picked it up from the groun. Hopefully, this small leaf wouldn’t disrupt the natural environment.
Love the colours of autumn; I guss my faded timberland bots can blend in well.
If you’re looking for a place away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo City life, do consider visiting Mt Takao for a half-day (max 4-6 hours) visit =)
Don’t forget to watch my other videos for my trip. In recent years, I feel that my videos contain more information than my blog..