Mount Takao: A Gem to Discover Near Tokyo

Japan is an island nation composed of 6,852 islands. The four largest islands, making up about 97% of the country, are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Japan also has over 200 volcanoes and breathtaking mountainous terrains. One of the most popular mountains in Japan is Mount Fuji, a staggering 12,389 feet high: the tallest mountain in Japan. Located on Honshu Island, it can be seen all the way from Tokyo on a clear day. Mount Fuji is famous for its near-perfect cone shape, surrounding national parks and lakes. It is one of the “Three Holy Mountains” (三霊山 Sanreizan), along with Mount Haku and Mount Tate.  It is truly a beautiful site to behold.

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Mt. Takao. | YU-JEN SHIH

However, Mount Fuji isn’t the only mountain attracting visitors in Japan. Mount Takao is another mountain located in the city of Hachiōji in the western part of the Tokyo metropolis that attracts throngs of people. It is protected within the Meiji no Mori Takao Quasi-National Park. Mount Takao has received three stars (highest ranking) as a “Must Go” mountain from the Michelin Green Guide to tourist spots. It’s no wonder that about 2.6 million people make the climb to Mount Takao annually.

tama_forest_science_gardenMount Takao stands at 599 meters (1,965 ft) tall and is conveniently located only about an hour from downtown Tokyo. Visitors can choose from eight hiking trails to the summit. The Tama Forest Science Garden, at the base of the mountain, is an experimental forest and an arboretum.

Tama Forest Science Garden. | Arashiyama

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Mount Takao can be climbed from the base or by a cable railway or ropeway ride halfway up the mountain. The mountain supports about 1,200 species of plants and numerous varieties of native insects and animals such as wild boars and monkeys.  So many things to discover so close to the bustling city of Tokyo!

Aerial tramway at Mt. Takao. | Dick Thomas Johnson