With its perfect location, cheap transport links and wealth of things to see and do; Mount Takao is a Tokyo day-tripper’s dream come true.
- The Mount Takao Fire-Walking Festival is held annually on the second Sunday of March. The action starts from 1 p.m.!
Japanese culture holds the seasons in high regard and Mount Takao is one of the go-to places to observe this change in action.
From mid-April, the trees are bursting with the vibrant pinks of Japan’s famous sakura blossoms. In contrast, from mid-November the popular hiking route is awash with reds and oranges to welcome in the autumn.
If you can’t see the appeal of all that, then head to the Beer Mount, a beer-garden at the summit providing refreshing food and drink during the summer months.
A cable-car and chair lift run from halfway up the mountain, dropping you off near the observation station at the top. Even so, it’s highly recommended to take the popular hiking trail number one and enjoy the 90 minute hike to the top.
This route is paved and passes all the major sites as it winds its way up to the top of the 599 meter summit. One of these sites is a monkey park. For 430 yen, you can see Japanese macaques perform shows at various times throughout the day and view a beautiful wildflower garden with over 500 different types of plants.
If you’re put off by the heavy traffic on the main trails during Takao’s busiest times, why not try one of the network of trails that connect to the nearby Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park? These offer the serious hiker a chance to interact more with their natural surroundings and escape from the crowds.
The bottom of Takao holds as much appeal as the top. Just outside of Takaosanguchi station you can have an hilarious time at the Takao Trick Art Museum, learn more about the mountain in it’s own dedicated museum, Takao 599 and relax at the Keio Takaosan Onsen Gokurakuyu.
On New Year’s Eve thousands of people flock to Yakuoin, a gorgeous temple that has been the center of worship on the mountain for over a thousand years. After you’ve paid your respects to the tengu (mountain gods), watch the first sunrise of the New Year over the capital. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the elusive Mount Fuji.
Beyond majestic monkeys, killer views of Mount Fuji, and tricky art, Mount Takao is also home to a fire walking festival! Every second Sunday of March barefoot monks walk across a row of hot coals in the name of self-purification and promoting world peace. If you find yourself needing to be cleansed, and you’re brave enough, you can have a go at it yourself near Yakuoin Temple. Let us know whether you walk away with enlightenment or just scorched feet.