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Mt. Takao Day Hike

Though Tokyo is known as a concrete jungle, Mt. Takao (or Takao-san as it is known to the Japanese) is all-natural. It takes only an hour to reach the mountain via a direct route from Shinjuku Station, making it the perfect destination for a satisfying hike that will still have you home in time for dinner. So, what are you waiting for? Fill up your water bottle, lace up your shoes, and find out why 2.6 million people scale this sacred mountain each year.

Index

  • Follow the Stream

  • Biwa Waterfall

  • Feel the Burn

  • The Sweet Taste of Victory

  • Suspension Bridge Trail

  • Otsukaresama!

  • Follow the Stream

    Follow the Stream

    Follow the Stream

    Avoid the paved path and go au natural on the Biwa Waterfall Trail (Trail 6), located past the cable car station towards a cluster of shops and low apartment buildings. This trail is known for its proximity to both the trees and the water, running along a stream—and, at one point, joining it via a course of stepping stones. It’s a more challenging route than most, but has the added benefit of being cooled by its closeness to rushing water and overhead tree coverage that shields it from direct sunlight.

  • Biwa Waterfall

    Biwa Waterfall

    Biwa Waterfall

    The trail’s namesake is known as a site of ascetic training that involves sitting under the cascading waters—even in winter!—while reciting sacred texts. Interestingly, this experience is available to the uninitiated on the first Saturday, the 18th, and the 28th of each month, though times and dates may vary. Even if you don’t get wet, it’s well worth a visit. Biwa Waterfall is located only a short walk from another important site: Iwayadaishi Cave, said to be the site of the miraculous healing of a sick mother and her child by renowned monk Kobo Daishi in the 8th century.

  • Feel the Burn

    Feel the Burn

    Feel the Burn

    If hiking doesn’t give you the workout you’re looking for, the Biwa Waterfall Trail makes for a great outdoor run. The cool air from the stream helps keep you from overheating (though you should avoid running on especially hot days). If you usually jog in more urban environments, watch out for wayward tree roots which have snaked their way across the path and could catch your feet. There’s plenty to see along the way, and the twists and turns of this route make it way more interesting than your usual city circuit.

  • The Sweet Taste of Victory

    The Sweet Taste of Victory

    The Sweet Taste of Victory

    Whether you’ve walked or run, reaching the top of Mt. Takao is a commendable accomplishment that deserves a reward. Treat yourself to honeyberry ice cream or a cold drink from a vending machine. If you’re truly famished, Mt. Takao Beer Mount offers an all-you-can-eat-and-drink buffet for just under 4000 yen. Just remember you’re at the top of a mountain—if you get too sauced, you can’t call a taxi to get back. Don’t be one of the unfortunate folk who trek to the summit, only to need an ambulance to take them home (we wish we were only kidding).

  • Suspension Bridge Trail

    Suspension Bridge Trail

    Suspension Bridge Trail

    Once you’ve reached the top, explore a new side of Takao with the Suspension Bridge Trail (Trail 4). This forest trail comes with a soundtrack rich in birdsong and—as its name suggests—a very popular suspension bridge. The Miyamabashi Bridge is wide enough to accommodate two or three people shoulder-to-shoulder, and its sturdy construction means you can enjoy beautiful views without worrying about any Indiana Jones-style disasters.

  • Otsukaresama!

    Otsukaresama!

    Otsukaresama!

    Depending on how much you plan to stop along the way, budget about 3.5 to 4 hours for a relaxed hike—though there’s more than enough to do and see to stretch your outdoor adventure into a full day of exploration. Arriving back at the station after your hike, make sure to wish your companions a warm “otsukaresama,” the Japanese way of recognizing one another’s hard work, though its rough translation may be more accurate: “Geez, you look tired.”

    Takaosan
    Address
    Tokyo Hachioujishi Takaomachi
    Phone
    Takaosan Via mount
    Address
    Tokyo Hachioujishi Takaomachi 2205
    Phone
    0426659943
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