Mt. Takao day trips for autumn

Get out of the city and into the mountains this season

Mt. Takao day trips for autumn

Fifty minutes from Tokyo’s bustling centre lies Mt. Takao, a popular ‘spiritual power spot’ set in a lush natural environment. Mt. Takao has always held an air of mystery— Japanese folklore holds that it’s inhabited by Tengu (a mountain spirit). It’s also a little known fact that the mountain is actually the location of a Buddhist seminary for mountain ascetics, founded by Gyoki, a Buddhist monk from the Nara period. The quiet afforded by the surrounding forest as well as the introspective atmosphere not only attract those looking to purify their souls, but also Tokyoites and tourists alike who want to get away from the city.

Part of Mt. Takao has been designated as the Meiji Memorial Forest Takao National Park, making the forestland well protected and preserving a precious natural environment equal to any World Heritage site. The forest is home to a diverse range of trees, plants, birds and insects, making it hard to believe that you’re still in Tokyo.

Mt. Takao supports six main hiking trails, and the courses take about 90 minutes to reach the summit. Each walk offers a different experience— while one trail might take you across a suspension bridge, another might show you a waterfall. It’s even possible to choose a course depending on your own level of fitness. No matter which hiking trail you follow, what you will definitely be able to enjoy are the autumn leaves, which are soon approaching the season’s peak of colour. The best time to see the autumn leaves for 2009 will be sometime around November 20, and with Mt. Takao’s dense cover of trees, the colours are ready to set the valley ablaze.

Mt. Takao is hosting a roster of weekend events for the autumn. A selection of activities such as yoga, hiking and bird watching are on the schedule, making this natural sanctuary just minutes away from the city worth checking out.

Mt. Takao
Location: Takao, Hachioji
Elevation: 599 metres
Transport: Takaosanguchi Station, Keio Line
The Keio Line Mt. Takao Round-trip Discount Ticket
Direct service from Shinjuku to Takaosanguchi station takes 47 minutes on the Keio Line Semi-Special express. The current Keio Mt. Takao advertising campaign, with the slogan ‘Ensoku e ikkou’ (‘Go on an excursion’ in English), aims to evoke the nostalgic air of excitement felt on childhood school trips; take advantage of it and go on a trip of your own. The Mt. Takao Round-trip Discount Ticket can be used for a return trip ticket to Takaosanguchi from any Keio or Keio Inokashira Line station (excluding Takaosanguchi, Tamasakai and Hashimoto), as well as for a return or one-way ticket on either the Mt. Takao cable car or chair lift. The ticket gives adults a 20% discount off the regular price (10% on weekends and national holidays). The services afforded by the ticket are exempted from December 31 to January 3.
Enquiries: Keio Customer Centre
Telephone: (042)357 6161
Open: 9am - 7pm (closed Dec 30 - Jan 3)
Mt.Takao Momiji Festival
This festival highlights the traditional Japanese maple, or momiji. As well as being able to hike through the beautifully coloured autumn trees on Mt. Takao, weekends and national holidays during this festival offer other entertainment. Catch taiko drumming, local performing arts and pop shows outside the Kiyotaki cable car station. Masuzake (sake served in a square wooden cup) and demonstrations of Tokyo kokeshi wooden dolls are also scheduled. Every Saturday, the first 300 visitors can also receive a free eco-friendly, reusable shopping bag sponsored by the local business association.
Date: Until Mon Nov 30
Enquiries: Hachioji Sightseeing Association
Telephone: (042)643 3115
Open: 8:30am - 5:15pm, Sun and national holidays until 3pm
Takao and Jimba Autumn Stamp Rally Hike
This is a hiking course via Mt. Takao and Mt. Jimba, collecting stamps at twelve locations along the way. Five of the twelve stamps have lettering on them which, if rearranged, will reveal a hidden keyword that you can use to enter a raffle. Prizes include tickets to stay at the Keio Plaza Hotel. Stamp sheets can be picked up at all Keio Line and Inokashira Line stations, and kiosks at the Jimba-Kogen-shita bus stop (Yamashitaya) and Shiroyama-shita bus stop (Fujimijaya).
Date: Until Nov 30
Enquiries: Keio Customer Centre
Telephone: (042)357 6161
Open: 9am - 7pm (closed Dec 30 - Jan 3)
Mt. Takao Twilight Hike
Outdoor brand MontBell, retailer of high-performance mountain climbing equipment and other outdoor gear is holding regular events so people can get more from being in the great outdoors. Of particular note is the Mt. Takao Twilight Hike, where hikers can enjoy climbing as the sun sets among the autumn trees and use headlamps to help descend the mountain paths as the night goes on. Azumaya rest stop has a beautiful view, and the hike also offers a rare opportunity to enjoy starwatching in the Tokyo night sky. If you’re lucky you might also see wild animals such as the musasabi flying squirrel. The hike isn’t particularly difficult so beginners are welcome. The hike meets in front of Keio Takaosanguchi station, and participants are required to bring their own stocks and headlamps.
Date: Sat Nov 21, Sat Dec 5
Time: 2:30pm - 7pm.
Admission: 6000 (members 4500)
Enquiries: MontBell Club, Minami-Osawa Store
Telephone: (042)670 5682
Open: Daily 10am- 8pm
Birdwatching at with the Takao Bird Watching Society
This bird watching event is hosted by the Tokyo chapter of the Wild Bird Society of Japan, and highly recommended for those interested in seeing mountain birds. Join fellow bird enthusiasts in experiencing the pleasure of discovering birds hidden amongst the changing autumn leaves. Bird watchers meet up in front of Keio Takaosanguchi station and are asked to bring lunch, drinks, shoes appropriate for light mountain climbing, rainwear, and of course any bird viewing equipment you need.
Date: Sun Nov 22
Time: 8:15am until 12noon
Admission: 200 (including insurance), under 18 free
Applications and enquiries: Wild Bird Society of Japan, Tokyo chapter
Telephone: (03)5273 5141
Open: Mon- Fri 10am - 5pm, closed on holidays
Yoga shakyo and shojin ryori retreat at Takaosan Yakuoin Temple
This authentic yoga retreat is hosted by Studio Yoggy, which has yoga schools throughout central Tokyo. Activities such as yoga, shakyo (the practice of sutra copying) and gomagyo (a Buddhist rite involving lighting a holy fire) will be held at the Takaosan Yakuoin temple. Shojin ryori (Buddhist vegetarian dishes) will be served for lunch. This half day event offers diverse experiences and respite from an often frenetic city. It’s a must for those wanting to rid their bodies of day-to-day fatigue. Participants are asked to bring yoga wear, a yoga mat, warm clothing and a camera. Yoga mats can be rented for an extra 300.
Date: Mon Nov 23, 9:30am - 4pm
Location: Takaosan Yakuoin Temple
Admission: 9000 (includes shojin ryori, a donation, shakyo and gomagyo prayer fees)
Enquiries: Studio Yoggy Ikebukuro
Telephone: (03)5949 3571
Autumn’s Mt. Takao
This Mt. Takao nature walk has been chosen as one of the Japan Walking Association’s 500 best walking routes in Japan. If you complete the walk at this event you can receive a seal in the Association’s official 500 best walking routes ‘passport’ (available for 100). Participants will meet in front of the ticket gates at Keio Takaosanguchi station.
Date: Mon Nov 23, 9:30am - 1:30pm
Admission: Tokyo Walking Association members 100, other Japan Walking Association members 300, non-members 500
Enquiries: NPO Tokyo Walking Association
Telephone: (03)3295 6262
Mt. Takao Nature Observation Hike
This event is held by the Forestry Agency Takao Forestry Centre as a part of its scheme to further the public’s contact with the forests. A guide will lead participants through the beautifully coloured late-autumn leaves at Mt. Takao. To apply, write the name of the event you’d like to participate in and the name, age, address, post code, and phone number of all those who wish to go, as well as the return address, onto a reply-paid postcard. Applications must be submitted by November 17. If the number of people applying exceeds the number of places, hikers will be chosen via a lottery.
Date: Tue Dec 1
Admission: 1700
Applications and Enquiries: Forestry Agency, Kanto Forestry : Management Department, Takao Forestry Centre
Address: 2438-1 Takao, Hachioji, Tokyo, 193-0844
Telephone: (042)663 6689
Open: Mon - Fri 9am - 5pm, closed holidays
By Ai Terada
Translated by Virginia Okno
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.



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