If you’re looking for a day trip from Tokyo with a difference then you’ve come to the right place. Mount Takao is easy to get to from Tokyo. It’s a glorious place to visit and it’s the perfect place to come to escape from the city for at least a few hours. And while Mount Takao is known as the most climbed mountain in the world, we certainly were able to escape the crowds and enjoy some quiet hiking and trails to ourselves. A trip to Mount Takao from Tokyo is a great way to get a fix of nature while returning to your hotel at night (no more packing and unpacking) and this trip is easy to take and can be as energetic as you want it to be. Here’s our guide to taking a Mount Takao day trip from Tokyo.
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This highly rated day trip from Tokyo to Mount Takao includes a return train ticket, a round trip on Takaosan Cable Car and Lift ticket PLUS Takao Mountain Monkey Garden and Wildflower Garden Admission ticket
Mount Takao aka Takaosan stands at just 599 meters (1965 feet) above sea level and is located to the west of Tokyo in the Tama region. You can easily get to Mount Takao from Shinjuku station and it’s a great day out from the city. From the moment we got on the train, it was obvious that everyone had the same idea as us. Virtually everyone was wearing hiking gear, boots, and layers, there were also lots of hiking poles in evidence too. (But don’t worry, depending on the trails you pick and the time of year you visit you won’t need much of that). We also saw people walking who were wearing flip-flops and in shorts and T-shirts.
Where is Mount Takao
Mount Takao is the closest outdoor natural area of Tokyo and as such is a popular place to visit at weekends and holidays. Takaosan is within the Meiji no Mori Takao Quasi-National Park and receives more than 2.5 million visitors a year. It is a popular place for hiking, and there are 8 hiking trails here, from the gently sloping and wide concrete path that is trail one, to the potentially muddy and slippery trails that include suspension bridges and steps.
Why Go to Mount Takao
The main reason to go to Mount Takao is for the hiking, it makes for a great Tokyo Day Trip with a difference. With the 8 trails of varying lengths that you can combine or mix and match it’s a great way to see something of the outdoor world very close to Tokyo. However, there’s also a chair lift and a funicular railway here, so you hardly need to walk at all if you don’t want to. There are observation decks here, and the views are stunning, they’d be even more so on a really clear day.
Mount Takao is considered a sacred mountain by the Japanese and it’s been a place of worship for more than 1000 years. The Yakouin temple, near the trail, is a popular stop for those who wish to pray to the Shinto-Buddhism gods. There’s also a popular monkey park (the monkeys are on the other side of a glass wall) with paid admission and your ticket there comes with admission to the wildflower garden as well.
If you’re looking for more reasons to come to Takao, then there’s also a museum at the base of the mountain Takao599, which is free to enter and which details the ecology of the mountain. And for fans of Japanese onsen baths, there’s the Keio Takaosan Onsen Gokurakuyu, which has a variety of gender-segregated hot spring baths.
Mount Takao is popular during Japan’s Cherry Blossom season and also during the fall foliage time.
How to Get to Mount Takao from Tokyo
Mount Takao is only about 50 minutes to an hour by train from Shinjuku station. You can take the JR Chuo Line to Takao Station (it’s all covered on your JR Pass). If you don’t have a JR Pass, then the central Tokyo station to Takao will cost 580 Yen. From Takao station, you can transfer to the Keio Line for a 3-4 minute ride (this bit is not covered on the JR Pass) and tickets from Takao to Takaosanguchi station cost 130 Yen.
You can also take the Keio line from Tokyo Station to Takaosanguchi for 390 yen.
You can buy a super day trip deal to Mount Takao, that includes
- 1-day Keio Line and Inokashira Line ticket
- 1 Round-trip Takaosan Cable Car and Lift ticket
- 1 Takao Mountain Monkey Garden and Wildflower Garden Admission ticket
- 1 Keio Takaosan Hot Spring Face Towel if you pay an additional fee to do a hot spring
- 5% Discount Coupon at Keio Department Store Shinjuku
This is a great option for visiting Takao if you don’t have a JR Pass and will help you see all there to see at Takaosan and save a little money too!
When you arrive at Takaosanguchi Station, you’ll want to turn right out of the station and start walking. Within a few minutes, you’ll find the station for the chair lift and the funicular. These two methods of transport will get you to mid-mountain. Single adult tickets cost 490 Yen (a return costs 950 Yen). Alternatively, follow the signs and start walking. If you’re short of time the chair lift is a pleasant way to go up the mountain and it goes more frequently than the funicular railway, both cost the same.
When to go to Mount Takao
Mount Takao (and the trains to and from it) can get busy at weekends and holidays. It is particularly busy during fall foliage time and also during cherry blossom season. However, we did visit on a Saturday and while we left Tokyo before 7:30 am we had a seat on the train all the way there and back (although there were a lot of people standing) and once we got off the main trail we had a lot of the trails to ourselves.
Cherry Blossom Season at Mount Takao
If you’re heading to Takao for Cherry blossom then the best area to go to is Itchodaira. It will take you 30 minutes to hike from the summit of Mount Takao to get to this area which is known as Mount Takao Thousand Cherry Trees. The trees here tend to reach full bloom a little later than the main blossom season in the city.
What to do at Mount Takao
Hiking is the main activity at Mount Takao, but don’t be put off if you’re not a hardened hiker. The hiking here can be easy, think of it as a walk in the park. With a chair lift or funicular lift thrown in for good measure. Aside from hiking consider exploring the nature at Mount Takao, visiting temples, taking a look at the Takao599 museum, or perhaps relaxing in a Japanese onsen bath.
There’s a huge map as you’ve exited the train station and arrived at the base of operations, so you can quickly figure out what to see and where.
Ride the Funicular or Chair Lift at Mount Takao
The easiest way to get to mid-mountain at Takao is to take either the chair lift or the funicular railway. You might see it mentioned that it’s a cable car or a ski lift. It’s actually a funicular railway, but it’s known as the Takao Tozan Cable. There’s no skiing here at Takao, but they do look similar to what you’d see at a ski resort.
Buy tickets for the lifts at the base of the lifts, from the machines, with cash. Tickets cost 490 yen one way or 950 Yen for a return trip. If you opt for the chair lift rather than the funicular then you’ll have to climb a few more steps before you get onto your lift.
The funicular opens at 08:00 and run until 17:15 in December, January, and February with later closing hours as the year goes on. The last ride is at 18:00 in April, May, July, and August. The chair lift is open from 09:00 until 16:30 and closes half an hour earlier from December to April.
Take the Hiking Trails at Mount Takao
There are 8 mapped hiking trails at Mount Takao. You can start your hike from the bottom, right outside the Takaosanguchi train station, or you can take the chair lift or funicular railway to mid-mountain and hike from there.
The most popular trail is trail number 1, which leads out directly from the base area and winds its way up (gently) to the summit of Mount Takao. It’s a wide and concreted trail and it’s the busiest one you’ll find. It will take around 90 minutes. Hiking trial number one is NOT the easiest trail at Takao, as it does go up. There are two circular, almost flat, trails higher up the mountain that are easier. Here’s a little detail about the trails.
Mount Takao Trail 1 (Omotesando Trail)
- Most popular trail aka the busiest trail on Mount Takao
- Sightseeing spots along the way including the Yakuo-in Temple
- Trail length – 3.8 kilometers (2.36 miles)
- Difficulty: Easy to Medium
Mount Takao Trail 2 (Kasumidai Loop)
- The easiest trail at Mount Takao
- Join just after the upper station of the chairlift and funicular
- Trail length – 0.9 kilometers (0.5 miles)
- Difficulty: Easy
Mount Takao Trail 3 (Katsura Woods)
- Nature-focused trail with streams, forest, and views
- Join at the summit loop or halfway up Trail 1
- Trail length: 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles)
- Difficulty: Medium
Mount Takao Trail 4 (Miyamabashi Suspension Bridge Trail)
- The route through the forest crosses the Miyamabashi Suspension Bridge
- Join halfway up Trail 1 after the chair lift/funicular or from the summit loop
- Trail length: 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles)
- Difficulty: Easy to Medium (there are of steps though)
Mount Takao Trail 5 (Summit Loop Trail)
- Easy route, almost flat, around the summit of Mount Takao
- Join at the summit
- Trail length: 0.9 kilometers (0.9 miles)
- Difficulty – Easy
Mount Takao Trail 6 (Biwa Waterfall Trail)
- The most difficult trail at Mount Takao
- Goes from the base to the summit of Mount Takao
- Slippery, steps and rough underfoot
- Trail Length: 3.3 kilometers (2.05 miles)
- Difficulty: Challenging – both up and down (down is slippery and often muddy)
Mount Takao Trail 7 (Inariyama Trail)
- Challenging “all-season” trail
- Goes from the base to the summit of Mount Takao
- Steep and can be slippery
- Trail Length: 3.2 kilometers (1.98 miles)
- Difficulty: Challenging – both up and down (down is slippery and often muddy)
Mount Takao Trail 8 (Takao Jimba Trail)
- This tough trail leads from the summit of Mount Takao to Jimba Kogenshita
- Trail length: 15.3 kilometers (9.3 miles) ONE WAY
- Difficulty: Difficult.
If you want even more hiking trails, then Mount Takao is the gateway to a huge number of trails that head into the Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park.
Check out the views from the Mount Takao Observation Decks
The first observation deck that you’ll come to at Mount Takao is at the top of the chair lift station, from here you’ll get views back over Tokyo.
When you get to the summit you may be able to get a view of Mount Fuji. It’s more likely on winter days than in the summer and you will need a clear, clear day. There’s an infographic to show you which direction you should be looking in.
Visit the Yakuo-in Temple at Mount Takao
The Shinto Buddhist temple of Yakuo-in was built in 744 and people have been worshipping the long-nosed goblin mountain gods since. These statues of Tengu are the protectors and messengers of Mount Takao and you’ll find statues of them all around the mountain.
Visit the Monkey Park at Mount Takao
Now this monkey park isn’t anything like visiting the snow monkeys of Nagano in their natural (ish) habitat. Here at Takao, there are more than 40 Japanese macaques, that you can feed, and who live in a glass-enclosed habitat here on the mountain. Entrance to the Takao monkey park will cost 420 yen, but you’ll also get access to the wildflower garden for this ticket.
- Takao Monkey Park Opening Hours: 09:30 to 16:30 (hours may differ in the winter)
- Takao Monkey Park Cost: 430 Yen
If you plan to visit the Mount Takao Monkey Park, then you can save by buying a combined ticket that includes the Keio line, the cable car/funicular, the chair lift, and access to the monkey park. Buy it here and save!
Visit the Takao599 Museum
You don’t even need to go up the mountain to learn about it. The Takao599 Museum – named after the elevation of the mountain is free to enter and provides a whole bunch of ecological information about Mount Takao and the Meiji no Mori Takao Quasi-National Park. It’s a four-minute walk from the exit of Takaosanguchi Train station. One of the features of the museum is its Nature Wall, where taxidermied, stuffed animals are displayed as though they were in the forest through the seasons.
- Takao599 Museum Opening Hours: 0800 to 17:00 (from April to November)
- Takao599 Museum Cost: Free
Explore the natural world at Mount Takao
There are more than 100 species of birds here at Takaosan and 1500 plants as well as thousands of insects. Learn about them at the Takao599 museum and then go looking for them!
Eat lunch at Mount Takao
Each area of the country has Japanese food that it’s famous for and Takao is no exception. Tororo Soba Noodles are the food of choice here and these fresh handmade noodles come with freshly grated yam (aka tororo). There are several places to eat – either snacks or bigger meals at Takao – down at the base, or the summit.
If you’re planning on taking a picnic, or snacks to hike Mount Takao, then you should be aware, like most of Japan’s outdoor places there are no trash cans. Pack it in and pack it out!
Relax in the Keio Takaosan Onsen Gokurakuyu
There’s a gender-segregated onsen here at the base of Takao. The hot springs here are natural and flow from Mount Takao to these Japanese onsens which have both indoor and outdoor spas. You can take massages here, eat (they’re famous for the soba noodles) and also just plain relax. If you’re planning on coming here, or perhaps relaxing after hiking the mountain, then the one-day pass includes a Keio Takaosan Hot Spring Face Towel (you will have to pay to enter though)
- Opening Times of the Keio Takaosan Onsen Gokurakuyu: 08:00 until 22:45 every day
- Prices of Keio Takaosan Onsen Gokurakuyu: 1000 Yen to enter, 1200 Yen on weekends and peak times.
Map of Things to do at Mount Takao
You can see the full map for things to do at Mount Takao here.
FAQS about visiting Mount Takao
Here are both the questions that we had before visiting Mount Takao and the questions we get asked about how to visit Mount Takao.
Are there toilets on Mount Takao?
Yes. There are toilets at Takaosanguchi station. You’ll also find toilets at the summit of Mount Takao and the observation deck at mid-mountain.
Can you buy food and drink at Mount Takao?
Yes. There’s a 7-11 at Takaosanguchi station, there are also lots of restaurants at the base of the mountain as well as vending machines at the chair lift station, and at the summit, there are also vending machines and snacks bars too.
How long does it take to hike Mount Takao?
You can hike to the top of Mount Takao in about 1 hour and 30 minutes. The trails are well-made and clear. Trail 1 is the easiest trail to get to the summit of Takao. (it’s all concreted). Alternatively, if you have less time, you can take the chair lift or cable car to mid-mountain and then walk from there.
What should you wear to Mount Takao?
Take layers. And check the weather. Depending on how many trails you plan to hike you’ll likely get warm heading up and colder coming down. Many of the trails are in the shade of trees, so don’t expect full sunshine even on a warm day. If you forget something then the 7-11 at the Takaosanguchi station sells all manner of hiking gear, from waterproofs to hats and sunglasses.
Do I need hiking poles to hike Mount Takao?
This depends on which trails you plan to hike, coming back down some of the longer trails can be quite slippery if it’s been wet or if there has been a lot of traffic. I took my poles with me and used them on the way back down. Looking for hiking poles? Here’s my guide to the best budget hiking poles for 2023.
Should I wear hiking boots to hike Mount Takao?
If you just plan to use Trail 1 and perhaps the summit circular trail then you won’t need hiking boots, I wore my usual Merrells, but we did see ordinary sneakers and people wearing full ankle-protecting boots. My guide to the best budget hiking boots for men is here.
Is it easy to hike Mount Takao?
It depends on your fitness. This isn’t a difficult hike at all. And you can walk as much or as little as you like. It’s similar to the Magome to Tsumago trail that we did (but with more people). There are more hills involved here than hiking in Kamikochi National Park.
How much is the entrance to Mount Takao?
It’s free to access Mount Takao. You will need to pay to use the chair lift or the Takaosan cable car.
How do I get to Mount Takao from Tokyo?
You can take the JR Chuo line to Takao station if you have a JR Pass (get one here). It’s about 50 minutes from Shinjuku station. You’ll need to transfer to the Keio line there (this is NOT covered by the JR Pass and will cost 130 Yen for the 4-minute ride to Takaosanguchi station). Alternatively, you can take the Keio line from Tokyo. This one-day pass is a great deal and includes access to the chair lift, cable car, monkey park, and a discount voucher too.
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Final Words on a Mount Takao Day Trip from Tokyo
This is a fabulous day trip from Tokyo to explore the natural world right on your doorstep. It’s easy to get there and it’s a popular mountain to hike – it’s known as the most climbed mountain in the world, but you should be able to escape the crowds. The landscape here is lovely and you wouldn’t imagine that you’re so close to Tokyo! And if you come on a clear day you might just be able to get a great view of Fuji too!
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