Mt. Takao

Spending day after day exploring Tokyo among its countless buildings, roads, and nearly 14 million people can be new and exciting, but also spur cravings for some greenery and mainasu ion (negative ions).

While a leisurely hike, Mt. Takao should be visited in appropriate clothing and footwear. Just one misstep while wearing sandals or high heels can ruin a wonderful trip, so please wear sneakers or hiking boots. Also, ensure you prepare accordingly for the weather on the day of your visit.

Located in the southwest of part of Hachioji and right at the border between warm and cool climates, Mt. Takao is flush with over 1,500 plants, 30 kinds of animals, and some 150 bird species. Its paved trails and a mild 599-meter peak above sea level make for a gentle climb and it’s also only a roughly one-hour trip to get from central Tokyo to Takaosanguchi Station at the foot of the mountain. So with its exceptionally rich natural environment, proximity to Tokyo, and easy for all to enjoy, Mt. Takao is a great destination for a day trip.

As such, it’s absolutely packed with visitors on weekends so a weekday is the best way to avoid crowds. You can plan to get there quickly on an express train and get started up the mountain or take it slow and enjoy the change in scenery from urban grey to countryside green on a local service train.

There are several ways up—both surfaced and natural—but by far the most common choice is to cover half the journey up by cable car or chair lift.

A Big “First Step”

The cable cars depart every 15 minutes and make their way up and down in about 6 minutes, traversing Japan’s steepest railway incline at 31.18°.

This doesn’t sound like a lot until felt firsthand and standing up in the train as it moves through the steepest section conveys just how steep it actually is!

The chair lift is a more leisurely way up or down. While it takes about twice as long as the cable car, you can fully take in the sights and sounds of the natural surroundings at a slower pace.

The Way Up on Foot

Once you get off and begin making your way toward the summit on Trail 1, you’ll come across a fork in the road with paths known as otoko-zaka and onna-zaka.

This is common in temple construction and both join up together again, but offer different ways to proceed, with the former presenting 108 steps (one to remove each of Buddhism’s earthly desires...through your sweat!) while the latter is a smooth upward incline.

You’ll also come across several “distraction attractions” to your journey up that range from the monkey park (70 snow monkeys strong) to stalls selling tengu-yaki, bean-filled waffle treats shaped like the tengu spirits the mountain has long been associated with.

Yamabiko Chaya Eatery

If you’ve gotten to the top and the sky is clear, you’ll be treated to a magnificent view of Mt. Fuji in the distance. After feasting your eyes on it, it’s only proper hiking etiquette to #treatyoself to a reward. In business at the summit for over 70 years, Yamabiko Chaya is known for its soba buckwheat noodles (hot or cold) topped with mountain veggies and grated yam, but taking in the view of the lush mountain forest outside from the counters and tables as you chow down makes stopping by worth it. They also have matcha-flavored shaved ice available in the summertime that’s sure to hit the spot.

Beer Mount Restaurant

If you didn’t get your fill of food at the top, then this is the place to do it! The Beer Mount is an all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink buffet-style restaurant where you can load up on Japanese and international cuisine with chilled beers for two hours (if you can fit in that much) while gazing out on the Kanto plain.

The view becomes extra special on a clear night with the glittering lights of Greater Tokyo providing the backdrop. It’s close to the cable car and chair lifts, so coming just for the view and noms is doable as well.

Open yearly from mid-June to mid-October.

TENGU Guided Tours in English

Enjoying the nature surrounding you up and down the mountain is part of what makes a visit to Takao attractive, but if you might go right past something rare simply because you didn’t know where to look or what to listen for.

The Takao-san English Volunteer Guide Club (TENGU) runs free guided tours of Mt. Takao in English every third Sunday of the month. Each of the 30 volunteer guides knows their stuff—some double as volunteer guides for Japanese visitors—and can introduce the mountain’s charms and history to you.

After meeting up, your guide(s) will take you on a day tour of the mountain, so be sure to bring your own lunch, snacks, and drinks, and dress appropriately for a day outside.

Getting a deeper understanding of Mt. Takao will undoubtedly make it a more memorable visit!

Regular tours are held on every 3rd Sunday of the month (unless noted) and require reservations via the website (in English). Private tour reservations also offered.


The museum is located just off the pathway leading to the cable car station, so stop by to pick up trail guides, learn the rules to follow while climbing, and get an up-close look at just some of the many species of plants and animals inhabiting Mt. Takao. It’s a popular facility (over 300,000 people of all ages and nationalities visit yearly) and will undoubtedly make your visit more rewarding.

Built in 2015 and featuring high roofs, big windows, and a modern look, the museum and its outside terrace provide a comfortable space to relax (or have a picnic after coming down the mountain). It also has a reading area, small café, and a well-stocked souvenir shop, but mainly serves as a place to learn about Mt. Takao’s ecosystem.

The Japanese giant flying squirrel (the museum’s mascot), for example, is nocturnal so you might see a nest hole in a tree during the daytime if you’re lucky, but you can see (and touch during special events) it* and see all kinds of insects and plants up close in the display cases. Don’t miss the hourly animated projection mapping show using the animals on the Nature Wall.

*All taxidermized animals at the TAKAO 599 MUSEUM are made from animals found dead of natural causes around Mt. Takao.

The museum also holds several events throughout the year like group yoga sessions on the terrace or the 599 Festival to coincide with Mountain Day on August 11.