If you’re in the mega-city of Tokyo for a week and need to get away from the concrete and crowds for a moment, there’s no better place to go than on a nature-filled hike up picturesque Takaosan 高尾山 (“Mount Takao”). Only 50 minutes by train from Shinjuku, it makes for a convenient and memorable day trip for anyone with a penchant for the outdoors. In fact, plenty of Tokyoites make the journey to Takaosan because of its accessibility (yes, believe it or not, the mountain is still actually considered part of metropolitan Tokyo), and because it’s just really, really pretty up there.
So, what exactly are the highlights of Takaosan? Well, apart from the stunning scenery (made especially glorious in autumn), there are plenty of hiking trails to choose from, as well as a super snazzy cable car tram thingy (the steepest one in all of Japan, no less – slanting up to 31 degrees up the hillside) that brings you halfway to the top, to make your journey to the summit that much easier. Also, as a sort of bonus, you can see the glorious Mount Fuji from the top on a clear day (it has to be a very clear day because it’s still pretty far off). That said, James and I did actually manage to catch a glimpse of the hulking natural landmark in the distance, with the setting sun going down behind it. Pretty amazing.
Oh, and if you’re ever up on Takaosan, make sure you try some of the famous cheese tarts, sold at the Tenguya Shop. They’re not overly sweet – in fact, they’ve got a hint of savouriness that washes down well with a cup of hot coffee or tea. Seriously, don’t leave the mountain without some! We bought a box of 6 and brought it back to the apartment to have for breakfast the next morning. SO WORTH THE CALORIES.