Most people don't know that Japan is a great place for hiking. There are mountainous areas outside of the big cities just begging for people to hike them in the fall season. On Mount Takao, I not only got to climb a spectacular mountain, but saw a beautiful piece of nature that anyone who loves hiking would embrace proudly. This was the best time to climb the mountain, because the foliage was coming out. Mount Takao had given me a hiking trail worth the train ride from Shinjuku to gaze at the fall-colored leaves that has just begun in Japan.
My climb on Mount Takao began at the station Takaosanguchi on the Keio Line. I knew this part of Japan was going to be a different experience compared to the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. The station sign was not plain white like the others, but decorated in wood and it gave me a strong sense of outdoor, country life. The town itself seemed to be an ideal tourist spot with an art museum and onsens nearby. It was easy to find something entertaining. Going up to the trail, there were stalls selling Japanese snacks like dango and sushi wrapped in a leaf.
I saw the cable car taking people up the hiking trail entrance but, since I had enough time, I walked there instead. It was nicely paved with stones, making it easy on my feet. The foliage was blooming all over me and I could see all kinds of nature surrounding me like a small dot on a green canvas.
Takao-san’s trails were filled with wonderful natural sights and I heard there would be waterfalls so I raced to see which ones were flowing this time of year. I went to Biwa Falls because the guides told me that was the best. Finally, when I got to the falls, there were shrines surrounding it as well as the folded paper on ropes called Oshide. This waterfall was definitely a religious spot. After that, on the way to the top, the trail was a bunch of stepping-stones and had a small stream flowing down on it. It was impossible to keep my feet dry.
Next on the tour was the climax of the hike, the Takao-san summit where everyone was getting their picture taken next to the pole indicating they made it to the top 599.15 meters and it only took about 2 hours. I could decide which 6 different trails to walk back to the station. I chose number 6 so I could cross the suspension bridge.
The bridge was long and narrow. I could see children dangerously running across it and jumping making it wobble. It was a sign that people felt safe and relaxed on this mountain. Even those who do not hike often, Takao has something for everyone. There was a small, flowing creek below it and a vast view of nature surrounding it. I had to take some photos of it to make sure people knew I had been there.
There were lots of attractions to see and do on the way back down. These included a monkey park, shops selling local foods, and a round statue shaped like an octopus. They really tried to make plenty of great places to stop for people who walk this trail.
The observation deck was the last part of the top of Takao. Once on the deck, it felt more like an American carnival than the top of a mountain in Japan. There were lots of plastic tables and chairs and people eating large hot dogs. At the very top was the best view of Tokyo. There was a panoramic view of the whole city from Ikebukuro to Minato. I could see all of Tokyo’s splendor and beauty stretched out as far as the eyes could see. The view was really prodigious with luscious forest on the left and the huge metropolis on the right. It was worth the whole trip.
he best part about Mount Takao was how simple it was. Unlike mountains like Fuji, Takao was for people of all ages and anyone can climb it. It was a rather short hike—only 3 hours—so it was a great way to spend your free time getting in shape or stretching your legs. The trails were quite smooth and it seemed no matter what part of the mountain you were on, there was always something to do. Mount Takao was bright and fun.