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Mount Takao autumn view

Japan Travelogue Series: Discovering Mount Takao

Mount Fuji isn’t the only mountain attracting visitors in Japan. Mount Takao is another mountain conveniently located only about an hour from downtown Tokyo that attracts throngs of people. It is protected within the Meiji no Mori Takao Quasi-National Park. Mount Takao has received three stars (highest ranking) as a “Must Go” mountain from the Michelin Green Guide to tourist spots. It’s no wonder that about 2.6 million people make the climb to Mount Takao annually.

Mount Takao suspension bridge

Mount Takao stands at 599 meters (1,965 ft) tall and is and easy commute to the city of Hachiōji in the western part of the Tokyo metropolis. Visitors can choose from eight hiking trails to the summit. The Tama Forest Science Garden, at the base of the mountain, is an experimental forest and an arboretum.

Mount Takao trail

Finding peace and tranquility

The mountain is closely linked with the Shinto-Buddhist tengu, a legendary creature and minor kami of Japanese folklore. Mount Takao is also known for Shugendō the mountain asceticism focusing on strict discipline. Also known as the “”Way of Shugen”, the religion originated in the Heian era and has evolved during the 7th century from incorporating philosophies, beliefs, ritual and doctrines from local folk-religious practices, Buddhism, and Shinto mountain worship.

The climb to the top

Getting to the top of Mount Takao would usually take about 90 minutes. Visitors can choose to begin climbing from the base or take a funicular, a type of cable railway system which connects points along a railway track laid on a steep slope, or a ropeway ride. These are both operated by the Takaotozan Railway. Getting to the top of the mountain is a great way to take in the beautiful scenery.

Mt. Takao chair lift

Mount Takao has ideal weather allowing diverse vegetation to flourish in the area. The mountain is also teeming with wildlife with more than 1,200 species of plants and a wide variety of indigenous animals and insects such wild boars and monkeys. Mount Takao is also an ideal spot during Hanami with numerous cherry blossoms blooming all around. There’s so much more to discover so close to the bustling city of Tokyo!

Join Michelle as she discovers Mount Takao!

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Read all about Japanese immersion learning and studying abroad. Check out our eZasshi archives for more articles!