Mt. Takao, located in Hachioji City in the Tokyo area, came to share the same distinction as Mt. Fuji in 2007 when the famous tourist attraction received three stars in the Michelin Green Guide, the highest ranking any destination can get. In recent years, it became a popular hiking spot for people who come for day trips. During November, when the leaves have turned colors, a whole bunch of people come for the Mt. Takao Fall Colors Festival. I would like to show you some recommended courses to take that don"t involve riding cable cars, but do involve giving your body some much-needed exercise.
I recommend Trail One! Feel the invigorating mountain breeze as you start to hike!
Located less than an hour away from Shinjuku Station by train, Mt. Takao is easy to access from the city center and is a popular spot to take a carefree hike. It attracts 2,500,000 visitors a year, and it has an elevation of 599 meters! The best time of year to see its fall colors is from the middle until the end of November, and many visitors come to view the autumn leaves during this period.
When you arrive at Keio Line’s Takaosanguchi Station, head for the Mt. Takao cable car station first, Kiyotaki Station, where the start of the mountain trail is located! At the cable car loading area, you will encounter the beautiful contrast of the reds and yellows coming from the Japanese and Acer maple located there.
There are seven trails to take at Mt. Takao, Trails One through Six and the Inariyama Trail. For those who want to see the fall colors, I recommend the ever popular and easy to hike Trail One, which is also called the Omotesando (the avenue leading to the famous Meiji Shrine) by its fans. There are steep slopes in the middle of the trail, but you can reach the cable car terminus in about 40 minutes.
Let’s take a break and see the spectacular view from Konpira-dai!
In the middle of Trail One, there is a side road that cuts through Konpira-dai and continues to Kasumi-dai, so when you climb that steep slope, I implore you to make a stop at Konpira-dai. It has a viewing platform where you can enjoy a spectacular view of the city of Hachioji through the autumn leaves, and if you’re lucky you might even get to see Sky Tree?! Since it will be crowded with people taking a break from their hikes, it might take some time to find a place to sit down, but the spectacular view from the platform will erase that fatigue in no time. This photo is the view from Konpira-dai during the height of Mt. Takao’s fall colors. When the weather is good, the glittering golden ginkgo leaves and the crimson maple leaves make for a truly beautiful sight.
let’s have lunch at Juichichome Teahouse’s terrace and feel the mountain breeze!
Now that we"ve come close to the cable car terminus station, we can see the viewing platform where you can look down at Musashino. In that area there are a few restaurants, so let’s go grab some lunch! Here we have a place that smells like roasted dango (sweet dumplings), Juichichome Teahouse. How about we eat here? You may recognize this restaurant as the setting for the 2003 drama “Hakoiri Musume (Innocence in Bloom)”! This teahouse has terrace seats, and from there you can see a view so spectacular that you can even view the city center depending on the weather. When it comes to Mt. Takao, It’s famous for its tororo soba (grated yam buckwheat noodles). It also has oyaki (broiled dumpling) and dango, so let’s relax our tired bodies, fill our bellies, and then head for the summit!
Let’s go through Yakuoin, Mt. Takao’s mystical spot, and head for the top!
Now that we’ve eaten our fill, let’s head out towards the summit. As we walk the path toward Yakuoin, we choose either the steeper slope or the gentler slope. When you finish climbing either slope, You’ll get to see the dazzling leaves near Shitennomon. Once you pass through the gate you will be greeted by the tengu statue (a super natural mountain spirit with red skin and a long nose). Yakuoin is actually the head temple of the Shingon-Chisan sect of Buddhism, one of the three main Buddhist sects in the Kanto region, which is known for their belief in tengus. It is a mystical spot where they say even the spiritual counselor Hiroyuki Ehara went to train under a waterfall! Get a full spiritual charge as you admire the beautiful autumn leaves!
A relatively unknown secret hideaway?! To the fall colors platform!
After leaving Yakuoin, we now head to the summit. There will be a plaza at the summit where there are restaurants and a visitor center, among other things. When the leaves change colors, it will be so crowded with people that you will be unable to find a place to sit. The sight of Mt. Fuji from the viewing platform is so breathtaking that it has been named one of the 100 best spots to see Mt. Fuji in the Kanto region. There is also a surprisingly little-known spot to see the fall colors, Koyodai. If you pass by the front of the visitor center and head down to the west side, you will find a teahouse that serves amazake (a sweet fermented rice drink) and nameko mushroom soup. As its name suggests (“Fall Leaves Platform”), you can see the bright red leaves from there. It is not as crowded as the summit area, which makes it into something of a secret hideaway. You should go and check it out.
Mt. Takao has received its much-deserved attention in recent years as a spot to see the fall colors, which has lead to it being very crowded during the autumn leaves viewing season. I’ve been coming here during this season for a few years, since 2008, and I have witnessed the visitors increase in the passing years, and sometimes I see crowds that force the hikes to go at a snail’s pace. That is how much attention it has received as a spot to view the fall leaves! When you go back down, you can choose from several paths that aren’t so crowded, or you can get a boarding ticket beforehand and go down on a lift or a cable car.
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