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Saturday, September 2, 2023

TRAVEL: Hiking at Mount Takao

This is one of those rare occasion when I went hiking. Haha, yes- me and hiking. Actually, I was thinking of doing a different Tokyo activity. 

I chose Mount Takao because it is near (roughly an hour's train ride) my daughter's place in Sagamihara. Also, I read that it is an easy mountain to climb especially for non-seasoned hikers / climbers like me. Of course, there's also a difficult trail (several trails, actually) but I chose the road less-travelled, hahaha!

It was still spring season when I went up Mount Takao so the temp was cooler with hints of rain. I went up on a weekend but since it was not peak season yet, there's not much hikers (or so I thought!). I even got lost a bit in the train station because I followed a group who looked like 'hikers' but they exited a different gate and luckily, there's a Station Master there so I was directed to the right exit. But getting 'almost' lost was a fun experience, not to mention that I haven't even reached Takaosanguchi Station!

After that getting lost-a-bit part, I was on the right train and arrived at the foot of Mount Takao. I didn't feel lost this time because most of the train's passengers are going to Mount Takao also. 

Btw, it is also nice to explore Takaosanguchi Station if you have extra time. In my case, I am excited to hike so I just followed the 'hikers' - both locals and foreign, some with big backpacks and walking sticks. I also saw a Shinto-priest on the train and saw him walk towards one of Mount Takao's hiking trail. There's about 7-8 trails going up if you really want to hike, including a trail that will pass a waterfalls, and a monkey-zoo. 

As I've said earlier, I chose the road less-travelled going up Mount Takao. I rode the chair lift! However, going to the chair lift area entail a bit of a climb also (steep stairs which can be slippery if its raining, so don't say I didn't warn you). Best to ride the cable car going up since the 'station' does not require any uphill climb. Also, if you're scared of heights, don't ride the chair lift (see photo below). 

There's a viewdeck and picnic area upon alighting the chairlift at the top station. Going up is about 12-15 mins. I took a short rest here, while admiring the lush green forest and mountains. And in case you get hungry, there's vending machines for drinks and stalls that sells food just near the viewdeck. I've passed by hikers (both young and old, some in groups) heading down already!

After about 15 or so minutes uphill walk, I reached Yakuoin Temple. This is a Buddhist temple established in 744. The temple itself is not that big but the temple ground is, and there are several shrines around it. A lot of hikers stop by the temple to pray. 

This is one of the Tengu that guards the temple. 

After a short temple stop, it's back to hiking again. I do have to mention that it was rainy for the past couple of days prior to my hike so it was indeed a blessing that it didn't rain the day I went. It was cloudy, but that's it. I did bring a long umbrella which also served as my walking stick.

Eventually, after several stops that include taking pics of the gargantuan Cedar Tree a.k.a. Octopus Tree of Mount Takao, I reached the top. Proud to have reached Mount Takao's summit which is 599 meters high. Yey! 

On a clear day, Mt. Fuji is visible from Takao-san viewdeck. Aside from the viewdeck, there's also a mini museum, and shops and vending machines at the top. Lots of hikers there when I arrived, coming from different trails. And the best part? There's WiFi! 

You can even see Tokyo from the viewdeck. 

I stayed for an hour at the top, ate my sandwich and bought some chips and postcards. I also asked a fellow hiker to take my picture at the summit marker. Going down took more than hour also, this time I followed some hikers on a different route so I got to see a different view. But the walk was quite long so upon reaching the chairlift and cable car area, I rode the chairlift again. 

PS. Yakuoin Temple has both Torii and Sanmon gate

To sum it up, I love my Mount Takao hiking experience and would love to experience hiking in spring (sakura) or fall season. Also, it is best to allot a whole day hike so that you can also explore the small community around Takaosanguchi Station- restaurants, shops, museum, cafes. 

Sharing here some helpful tips should you wish to visit Mount Takao-san. 

Tokyo Station --> Hachioji Station --> Takaosanguchi Station  approx ¥1071
Shinjuku Station --> Takaosanguchi Station  approx ¥798
Shibuya Station --> Meidaimei Station --> Kitano Station --> Takaosanguchi ¥965 

*** you can compare other train routes to get cheaper tickets

Comfortable clothes + extra shirt and towel
Comfortable shoes

What to bring: 
Food (optional)
Umbrella or cap / hat
Sunscreen (optional)

PS. All photos of Mount Takao-san were taken using HONOR X9A 5G. I love the zoom feature in natural light, very clear! Great battery life also since I was in Mount Takao practically the whole day. Stay tuned for my other adventures with HONOR X9A 5G

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