When you think of Tokyo, hiking probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, in the Hachioji area, less than an hour by train from Shinjuku, is Takao Station. It’s a gateway to a hiking adventure and a place where you can easily get away from the bustle of the city and enjoy nature.
Autumn is a great time to visit this area, where mountains such as Takao, Kagenobu, and Shiroiyama bloom with red and orange leaves for walkers to admire. In November, I travelled with a group of hikers to initially climb Takao before taking a detour and hiking up the gorgeous mountain Kagenobu and then Shiroiyama.
Hiking the mountain is fairly easily; it involves a walk in a forest and some steep roads up the man-made path. In autumn, you can find acorns and in certain places, lovely red leaves. Visiting Mt. Takao and the surrounding hills is a good way to practice if you’re interested in climbing Mt. Fuji. It can be hiked any season, it isn’t as challenging as Fuji, and it’s a lot closer to Tokyo.
The road starts off like a normal road for vehicles before you find the forest path.
The hike up Kagenobu takes around two hours, less if you walk fast. The elderly people I went with were surprisingly fit, and we made good time. Upon reaching the top, I was really surprised to see that there was a picnic area and even shops selling snacks and udon noodles!
We could even see Mt. Fuji from the top. It was a lovely clear day, and the majestic and much-loved mountain smiled at us from the horizon.
What You’ll Need
No matter what season you go, the top of the mountains are always going to be colder than the bottom, so make sure you take a light jacket or sweater with you. Wear appropriate footwear such as trainers or hiking boots if you have them, and clothes that are easy to move in. Shorts, leggings, waterproof jackets, and loose sweaters are good.
It’s a good idea to take snacks with you. Fruit such as grapes or oranges are a nice idea, or you can take mixed fruit and nuts. If you’re going as a group, you could also take a picnic where you can mix and share. Also be sure to take a camera so that you can snap some nice photos!
How to Get There
It’s highly recommended you go as early in the morning as possible. It would be too bad to have to rush to get back to the bottom before sundown. We arrived at Takao Station at 8:00am, ate lunch at the top, and took the long way down, meaning we got back to Takao Station at around 4:00pm.
From Takao Station, get the number 7 bus to Odarumi, which takes you to the beginning of the hike. It takes around twenty minutes to get there. With getting from your home station to Takao Station, then taking the bus, and then finding the path, a lot of time is spent before you even begin walking, so be sure to arrive with plenty of time.
Mt. Takao has a ropeway to take you back down to the bottom of the mountain, but keep in mind that it gets extremely crowded at peak hiking seasons, especially in autumn. We ended up walking down Shiroiyama instead of taking the ropeway because we found out there was a one-hour wait!
Even in busy Tokyo, you can take a breather from the hustle and bustle of the city to enjoy a day of nature and exercise. Each season offers a different experience, so if you’re in Tokyo and hoping to enjoy hiking that is less of a challenge than Mt. Fuji, check out Takao and the surrounding mountains for a tiring but fun day out.