Hiking Tokyo’s Mt Takao in Autumn

Autumn in Japan is a magical time. The humidity slowly disappears and the skies are clear; perfect for hiking and sightseeing.

Takao San is a beautiful mountain located in the far west of the Tokyo metropolis. This is one of the top places to go kouyou-spotting (the changing of autumn leaves) in Tokyo and is also apparently the most-climbed mountain in the world! It’s a great day trip as it’s easily reached by train from Shinjuku.

Mt Takao

Once you get to Takao San Guchi station, find the trail map and choose one of the slightly harder trails if you’d like to avoid the crowds.

The mountain is especially popular during Autumn weekends when visitors enjoy the famous red maple trees. Some of the quieter trails are just right for Forest Bathing. While peacefully wandering, you may even stumble upon a small shrine, or some protective jizo statues by the path. Once you get to the top you’ll be treated to a magnificent view of Tokyo; including the Shinjuku skyline!

The base

You can shop for omiyage or queue up for the cable car and chair lift at the base of the mountain, near the station. The cable car is a quick and convenient option to get straight to the views without having to hike, but it can be a long wait.

Mt Takao base
Mt Takao cable car
Waiting for the cable car

The trails

There are plenty of trails to choose from, of varying difficulties and lengths. We chose trail #6 because it looked quite quick. The trail wasn’t long, under an hour, but it was quite steep, rocky and muddy. What a beautiful hike though! There were a few little shrines along the way, some beautiful trees and lots of fresh air. Most of the trees were still green but we did catch a few glimpses of bright red.

Mt Takao trails
Mt Takao trails
Mt Takao shrine
Mt Takao jizo
Jizo statues protecting weary travellers

The summit

The mini summit (the actual summit is higher up) is where the cable car and chair lift end. Here you’ll find hot snacks and drinks, and plenty of photo options. We found the observatory and ooh’d and aah’d over the epic views of Tokyo – you can even see the tall buildings of the city centre right on the horizon.

From the actual summit further up, you can see a glimpse of Mt Fuji on clear days.

Mt Takao summit view
Magical Tokyo views
Mt Takao maple red leaves koyo
Line up and take your shot with the red maple trees
Mt Takao base omiyage
Lanterns line the street at the base of Mt Takao. A fitting ending to a beautiful day

More info

Where: Far West Tokyo
When: All year round, though winter would be a bit cold. Summer is popular for drinking beer at the observatory, autumn for leaf viewing and spring for the blossoms.
How to get there: The Keio Line, 390 yen from Shinjuku station
Recommended for: everyone! You can hike, take the cable car or chair lift, or just wander around the little village at the base of the mountain

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