A holy mountain with temple stays near Tokyo.
Mount Mitake is located within the expansive Chichibu Tama Kai National Park, about two hours from central Tokyo. Although overshadowed by the more commonly visited Mount Takao, Mount Mitake offers overnight temple stays in addition to hiking.
Hiking on Mount Mitake
Legend says that Mount Mitake has been a pilgrimage site for over two thousand years. Devout Shinto Buddhists hike up the 929-meter tall mountain and stay in shukubo, temples that act as pilgrim guesthouses, at the summit.
These shukubo are still available for overnight stays, so no need to go all the way to Mount Koya in Wakayama! Staying at a shukubo is a classic Japanese experience—expect to sleep on futons on tatami floors, use shared bathing facilities, and have meals made of locally-sourced ingredients.
A popular choice for temple stays on Mount Mitake is Shukubo Komadori-Sanso where travelers can try waterfall meditation. Find a full list of available shukubo on Mitake at the Japan National Tourism Organization’s website.
The trek up Mount Mitake takes about 60 to 90 minutes. You can also take the Mitaketozan Cable Car. Just sit back and enjoy the ride for ¥600 one-way or ¥1,130 round-trip.
The best time to visit is in July when several traditional Shinto performances occur on the weekends, and in the fall when you can see beautiful autumn-colored leaves at the summit.
From Mount Mitake, there are several additional hiking options if you haven’t had enough, including nearby Mount Odake. An hour hike from Mitake’s summit leading through beautiful waterfalls and rock gardens will get you there.
Musashi Mitake Shrine
The summit of Mount Mitake has a small village, perfect for experiencing “old Japan.” You’ll pass by a visitor’s center, gift shops, an observation deck, and local Japanese restaurants. Many traditional homes are open to day-visitors for tea and snacks as well.
The highlight of the summit is Musashi Mitake Shrine which was founded in 1307. The deity enshrined here is a wolf, who legend says protected an Imperial Prince on his way to Tokyo. Because of the canine deity, the shrine is dog-friendly. You can also purchase an omamori (good luck charm) for your dog here! Woof!