It’s That Time of Year! Let's Go and See the Michelin 3-Starred Autumn Leaves on Mount Takao!



Let's Go and See the Michelin 3-Starred Autumn Leaves on Mount Takao!


A popular spot boasting the largest number of mountaineers in Japan, Mount Takao can be reached in just one hour from central Tokyo. It's a famous place for autumn leaves, which have been rated three stars by the Michelin Green Guide Japan. We climbed it in late November, the best time to see the fall foliage, and enjoyed the superb views together with the popular local food!

Mount Takao, Reachable from Central Tokyo in Just One Hour

The closest station to Mount Takao is the Takaosanguchi Station on the Keio Line. If you ride the Keio Line from Shinjuku, you can get right by Mount Takao without changing trains.

Mount Takao train staion

You can get a map of the area at the Tourist Information Center by the station

Mount Takao map

There's a big information board in front of the station
Getting to Mount Takao's cable car and lift stations
When you get out of the station, just follow the flow of people. It takes about 5 minutes on foot to arrive at the base of the mountain.

Mount Takao is 599 meters above sea level. Getting to the top of the mountain is quite the journey, but there are a cable car and a lift that can take you halfway up. Of course you can also walk if you are up for the challenge. We decided to go for the lift this time.
Mount Takao cable car and lift stations
The stations for both the cable car and the lift are adjacent to each other. If you are looking for the quickest way up, we recommend the cable car. It takes just 6 minutes from the station to bring you up to an elevation of 472 meters.
Mount Takao cable car
The lift takes 12 minutes, which is a bit longer. However, on a clear day you will get to enjoy the beautiful autumn leaves at a relaxing pace.
Mount Takao lift
We rode the lift up to the upper station. From here it’s a 40 minute walk to the peak. Among several hiking trails, we choose Trail #1 (Omodesando trail) which is good for beginners and has a lot of interesting spots.

If you're walking Trail #1 from the base, we recommend that you stop at the observation deck. Take in the vivid yellows and reds of autumn. The beautiful scenery will be a reward for your fatigue!
Mount Takao road to the observation deck
The road to the observation deck is really pretty

Autumn leaves at Mount Takao
Autumn leaves with a green background!

View from Mount Takao's observation deck
From the observation deck you can see the ginkgo tree avenue in Hachioji

While Trail #1 is paved we still recommend you come dressed in comfortable hiking clothes and sneakers. For those travelers who wish to challenge the other trails be sure to have your climbing boots on.Hiking on Mount Takao

Trail #1 Is Loaded with Places You'll Want to Stop at

Kaiun Hipparidako on Mount Takao
The popular Trail #1 is packed with spots that will make you want to stop and take pictures. As soon as we arrived to the lift's top station and started walking, we encountered a popular lucky spot called "Kaiun Hipparidako". It is a cute octopus statue that will bring you good luck if you rub its head.
Hiking trail #1 on Mount Takao
A little past the octopus statue you'll find a splitting road like this. To the left is a more challenging, steeper trail, while to the right is a more gentle slope. The 108 step staircase of the left trail might appear intimidating, but it's actually a shortcut to Bussharito, an autumn leaves spot. So try your best and take the challenge!
Tengu statues on Mount Takao
Jizo statue on Mount Takao
Bussharito on Mount Takao
Bussharito is said to be where the remains of Buddha are stored. The autumn leaves here are immersed in a mystical aura of mystery.
Yakuo-in temple on Mount Takao

Keep walking for about 20 minutes and you'll arrive at Mount Takao's main tourist spot, Yakuo-in Temple.
Tengu statue on Mount Takao

Mount Takao is home of many legends about Tengu. A Tengu is a legendary creature of Japanese folklore and religion, also considered a god. Passing the main temple gate you'll be greeted by two enormous Tengu statues.

There are many foliage spots around the temple grounds. The contrast between the temple and the leaves make for some very photogenic scenes. 
Yakuo-in temple main gate
Around Yakuo-in's main gate
Stairs to the main hall of Yakuo-in temple
Stairs to the main hall

Izuna Gongendo hall on Mount Takao Izuna Gongen-do hall

Scattered around the temple grounds are a number of what the Japanese call "power spots". These spots are believed to have a concentration of positive energy to help with health of body and mind, and also with luck.

Purifying spinning wheel on Mount Takao

A spinning wheel to purify the mind and all five senses

Helping your prayers come true on Mount Takao

Passing through this hole is said to help your prayers come true
Hiking on Mount Takao

After a visit to Yakuo-in we continued our walk, aiming for the summit. We walked leisurely while admiring the surrounding nature.
Enjoying autumn leaves on Mount Takao

The trees lining the last bit of road to the top are exceptionally beautiful.
View from the top of Mount Takao

We made it to the top!
On a clear day, it's possible to see Mount Fuji. In autumn we can really admire the beautiful snow-coated top of the mountain.
After fully enjoying the view, it's time to descend! If you feel confident, you can try a different trail on the way down. These offer a more natural landscape that will give you the true "mountain climbing" feel. For example, Trail #4 will take you on a suspension bridge and Trail #6 features a waterfall.

Recommended Food to Try on Mount Takao

Other than the natural sceneries, there are also treats special to Mount Takao that we recommend!
First of all we recommend mitsufuku dango which means "three fortunes dumpling". These three rice dumplings on a stick represent fortune, happiness, and wealth. They are roasted on coals and come with a miso or soy sauce based sweet sauce.
Mitsufuku Dango on Mount Takao Mifuku dango 330 yen

Another must-try from Mount Takao is the Tengu-yaki, a fragrant sweet cake with a dough that's crunchy on the outside but stays chewy on the inside. The cake is filled with a moderately sweet black bean paste. The only shop that sells these is by the cable car Takaosan Station, and they tend to sell out by 3pm so be sure to get yours early.
Tengu-yaki on Mount Takao Tengu-yaki 140 yen

The restaurants at the foot and top of the mountain serve a local specialty called tororo soba. It's a bowl of buckwheat noodles topped with grated Japanese yam and a quail egg. The one in the picture is from Momiji-ya Honten, but you can find it in other restaurants too.
Tororo soba on Mount Takao Tororo soba from Momiji-ya Honten 980 yen

Soak Your Hiking Fatigues in a Nearby Hot Spring

Onsen on Mount Takao

If you want to take a rest before getting back on the train, you can go to a hot spring or a foot bath. The foot bath is located inside an Italian restaurant called Fumotoya. You will find it near Takaosanguchi Station. You can use the foot bath even if you don't eat at the restaurant but there is a fee.
Fumotoya's foot bath on Mount Takao

The autumn leaves viewing time for Mount Takao is from mid-November to early December. Take half a day and go enjoy the majestic nature at Mount Takao. 

Autumn leaves on Mount Takao


Mount Takao | 高尾山
Takaomachi, Hachioji-shi, Tokyo
Access: 3 min. walk from Takaosanguchi Station
Website (machine-translated English only):

*The information in this article is based on a coverage made on November 27, 2017.

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