On a beautiful autumn day, we visited Mount Takao along with several thousand other people – boy, was it ever crowded! From Shinjuku station in Tokyo, we took the Keio Line to Takaosanguchi station, about a 50 minute train ride (using the semi-express train).
At a height of almost 600m, Mount Takao offers several hiking trails, views of Mount Fuji and Tokyo, a monkey park and an ancient buddhist temple. At this time of the year, fall colors can be seen – there were lots of Japanese maple trees.
Although we had to wait about an hour to get in, we had a nice lunch at a restaurant near the bottom of the mountain that served handmade soba.
The Kiyotaki Station cable car, which takes you halfway up the mountain, has a gradient as steep as 31 degrees 18 minutes making this the steepest funicular railway in Japan. There was a long lineup for the cable car, with the wait of about 1 to 1.5 hours, fortunately at that time, there was a nearby Taiko drum performance that kept us entertained.
The cable car ends at the Takaosan station where there were lots of food stalls, shops and an observatory. As a bonus, there was also a stall selling sake (served in these wooden square cups) – sweet.
An old legend says that a woodsman planned to cut the roots of Tako-Sugi, called the octopus root cedar, but that night, the tree saved itself by twisting its roots around like octopus legs.
On the way to the Yaku-ou-in Temple, you pass through the Joshin Gate. The monkey park was also nearby, but we didn’t go in, although I heard that they were looking for me 🙂
The ancient Yaku-ou-in Temple is said to have been founded about 1,260 years ago and has a solemn atmosphere and beautiful Japanese maple within the temple compound. There is a legend that Tengu the long-nosed goblin lives on Mount Takao.
From the shrine, another 15-20 minute walk takes you to the summit and we were greeted by … more crowds. Anyway, at the summit, Mount Fuji can be seen at sunset.
On the way down the mountain, again there was 1.5 hour wait for the cable car so we decided to walk down instead (since downhill should be easier than uphill, no?). What an adventure as it was completely dark at this time (though we couldn’t figure out why some people were on their way up) – using our cell phone as a flashlight and walking many other crazy people, we safely made it.