Mt. Takao was introduced in the Michelin Green Guides for Travel and Tourism as a place that is relatively close to the center of Tokyo where you can discover the ‘real Japan’, and it is quite a popular destination among foreigners, especially for those who live in Japan long term. It takes less than an hour by train to Takaosanguchi Station from Shinjuku and the mountain’s level of ease is low. It is a hike that everyone with a moderate level of fitness can do. For those who want to take it easy, there is also a cable car you can take you mid-way to the top. For more adventurous hikers there are several less-traveled trails that are moderately difficult and will give you a much more quiet experience to the top or back to the station.
There are six well-maintained hiking courses starting from the foot of Mt. Takao-san and leading up to the 600-meter-high mountaintop, each with a different theme, allowing visitors to learn about Takao’s surrounding nature. You can enjoy viewing over 500 different kinds of plants along these paths. Two other attractions are the Mt. Takao Monkey Park & Wildflower Garden and the onsen hot spring near the station.
Mt. Takao, called Takao San by the locals is located west of Tokyo and at the eastern edge of the Kanto Mountains. It is a sacred mountain that represents the Tama area. The area is designated as the Meiji-no-Mori Takao Quasi-National Park. Emperor Shomu ordered the Yakuo-in Temple to be built halfway up this mountain in 744, and ever since people have come to Mt. Takao to pray at this temple. At the mountain is a statue of a ‘tengu,’ a long-nosed mythical figure. This statue is now a symbol of Mt. Takao-san.