I’ve been drooling over all the amazing autumn photos of Kyoto on Instagram and Facebook for the last month, so I thought I’d see what the famous Mt Takao had to offer. This is one of the top places to go kouyou-spotting (the changing of autumn leaves) in Tokyo and is also apparently the most-climbed mountain in the world.
The trees where I live and work haven’t shown any signs of changing colour, and the only autumn leaves we’ve seen have been the bright yellow gingko trees in Tachikawa and Aoyama.
Last Sunday we woke up early (just kidding!) and headed to Shinjuku at 1-ish to catch the Keio line straight to Takaosan-guchi station. Some people say travelling across Tokyo is expensive, but the long ride out to Takao-san is only 390 yen from Shinjuku station! After an hour on the train we realised we weren’t even half-way, and decided to hop-off and catch the semi-special express which got us there much faster!
There were thousands of visitors at the base of the mountain, mostly shopping for omiyage and queuing up for the cable car and chair lift. The cable car did seem like a very convenient option but the queue was pretty long, and we really came to do a bit of hiking. We were stopped to do a quick interview with Tokyo Extra which should be online soon!
We chose trail #6 because it looked quite quick. The trail wasn’t long, under an hour, but it was pretty steep, rocky and muddy so I wouldn’t recommend it to kids or old people! It was pretty tough on me because I don’t get much exercise and it was freezing at 3.30 with the sun almost setting. What a beautiful hike though! There were a few little shrines along the way, some beautiful trees and lots of fresh air. Most of the trees were still green but we did catch a few glimpses of bright red.
We reached the mini summit (the actual summit is higher up) where the cable car and chair lift end. This area was teeming with people lining up for hot snacks and taking photos of the few red trees. We found the observatory and ooh’d and aah’d over the epic views of Tokyo – you can even see the tall buildings of the city centre right on the horizon.
We wondered around the observatory area a bit, bought some vending machine hot chocolate and took some more photos. On the way down we followed everyone and found a fully-paved wide path which was so easy to walk down! I’m glad we didn’t take it on the way up though, it was nice to do more of a proper hike.
We reached the base and wandered around some of the stores selling omiyage (souvenirs). I got some delicious momiji (maple leaf) cookies from this beautiful minimal, modern store.
We took the express back to Shinjuku, feeling tired and cold but definitely more refreshed. I’m excited to head back again in winter or spring – I want to get to the real summit to see Mt Fuji!
What: Hiking on Mt Takao
Where: Far West of Tokyo
When: All year round, though winter would be a bit cold! Summer is popular for drinking beer at the observatory, autumn for red-leaf-hunting and spring for the blossoms.
How much: 390 yen on the Keio Line
Recommended for: everyone! You can hike, take the cable car or chair lift, or just wander around the little village at the base of the mountain