It's a known fact that Tokyo is a bustling hub of modern technology and AI advancements. Be it the city's transportation networks or healthcare system, all areas impacting people's life are fraught with state-of-the-art facilities, making life that much easier.
But sometimes, this insanely advanced city life can get a bit suffocating for many, evoking an intense longing for surreal and serene natural landscapes. This desire to be around Mother Nature drives people away from the cosmopolitan city towards the neighboring mountainous sites for hiking near Tokyo to catch a quick but immensely effective break from the city’s demanding life.
Fortunately for the Tokyoites, the Japanese capital is enveloped in some of the most magnificent sceneries in the world, offering solace to all those looking for respite from the high-paced life. While there are numerous perks of hiking and exploring the natural terrains around Tokyo, the biggest plus is the short duration needed to make a trip into the wilderness. People can journey into the rugged mountains around Japan’s capital without being away from the modernworld for long.
Since most hiking destinations near Tokyo lie at a short distance, hikers don’t need long stretches of time to trek up into the nearby hills; they can safely make a round trip in just a few hours. This means they can breathe the fresh air amid the most mesmerizing natural features. All anyone needs is 24 hours to recuperate, surrounded by enthralling Japanese landscapes outside Tokyo.
If you are also looking for a quick trip into the wilderness, hiking near Tokyo is what you need to do. And to help you pick out the best-hiking destinations close to the capital city of Japan, here is a detailed guide on the top hiking trails near Tokyo.
Putting the most obvious choice out of the way first; Mount Fuji! The most famous mountain in the Land of the Rising Sun, Mount Fuji, is an incredible hiking spot. Being a live-volcano and the tallest mountain in Japan, it offers an unforgettable climbing experience for enthusiastic trekkers.
Mount Fuji has some of the most magnificent sights to offer people climbing their way up to the summit. Set against the breathtaking blue sky, there lies a rugged terrain of dark, black rock around the lower stations, surrounded by mysterious greenery of twisted and semi-uprooted trees. The higher you go, the redder the rocks become. There are wisps of cloud rolling over the ground like sea foam, curling around the mountain huts, making a visual right out of a fairytale. If you want to lose yourself in the surreal atmosphere on Mount Fuji, you need to strap on your hiking boots and hike your way up to the peak.
The popular Japanese peak has ten stations, offering out-of-breath hikers a place to catch a break climbing up Mount Fuji. But not many climbers dare to cover all ten stations on foot; in most cases, people begin their trekking journey from the fifth stop that lies midway to the summit.
Like most famous hiking destinations in Japan, Mount Fuji has an official climbing season that starts from early-July to mid-September as it presents the most suitable circumstances to make a trekking trip for beginners and experts alike. If you want to take the most commonly chosen course of action for mounting Mount Fuji, i.e., visit the place during the official season, keep in mind that you will find large crowds all through your journey. One way to dodge the people swarming the location is doing the hike during the week instead of the weekend.
Despite being a more favored choice, hiking up Mount Fuji on the weekend is not the best option as it is usually busy.
Getting to Mount Fuji is perhaps the most convenient as there are multiple transportation options to make the commute. You can either take a train, ride a bus, or book a private tour to get to the Mount Fuji area.
Many trains and buses run from Tokyo to the popular tourist destination, but the two most commonly taken are theFuji Excursion Limited Express train and Keio Express bus from Shinjuku Station. Since Shinjuku Station is situated in Tokyo's central ward, you can easily get there by taking a cab from anywhere in the city.
One piece of advice: whether you take a train or ride a bus, drop off at the Subashiri 5th station in the Fuji area to begin your hiking journey.
Standing in the Kanto region of Ibaraki Prefecture, Mount Tsukuba is a stunning mountain with two peaks, offering multiple courses to hikers who wish to conquer the rocky trails up to the summit. The locals often regard the 877m high mountain as the western counterpart of the famous Mount Fuji. As the Japanese saying goes, ‘Fuji in the East and Tsukuba in the West.’
Comprising of two peaks, Nantaisan and Nyotaisan, Mount Tsukuba is an incredible hiking destination that offers stunning views all the way across the elevation. And the sceneries that unfold in front of one's eyes as they climb up the massif keep changing with every passing season. In the summer, lush grasslands await the excited trekkers, while in the chilly season, snow caps the peaks, creating a dreamy visual that's utterly rewarding for those making their way up to the summit. The spring and fall seasons bring their own sceneries that are equally enthralling as the other two seasons. In autumn, colorful leaves litter the green blanket on either side of the trekking courses, whereas in spring, cherry blossoms bloom in full force, forming a scene straight out of a Disney movie.
There is another immensely appealing aspect of trekking up Mount Tsukuba; the ever-changing color at the top. Although known as the Purple Mountain because of the indigo shade that colors the summit at sunset, the 877m high hilly elevation exhibits a bunch of striking colors throughout the day.
During the early hours of the morning, you will find the peak colored in indigo hues, while in the evening, you will witness a dark purple pigment staining the top. And in the afternoon, Mount Tsukuba is cloaked in a gorgeous green tint.
Simply put, discovering Mount Tsukuba is certainly a delightful experience worth living through at least once in a lifetime.
And the best part about scaling the lofty hill is the six different hiking trails mount Tsukuba offers to travelers. This means whether you are a beginner or a seasoned hiker, you can have an unforgettable experience trekking up Mount Tsukuba.
Getting to Mount Tsukuba is relatively easy, especially if you are coming from Tokyo. Head to Akihabara Station in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward and board the Express Line to Tsukuba station. Fifty minutes later, you’ll be in the town of Tsukuba. Once there, take a Kanto Tetsudo bus from the station. The following 40-minute-long ride will bring you to Tsukuba Jinja Iriguchi- the famous shrine in the locality that also happens to be the starting point of one of the many trails up the mountain.
Last (but definitely not the least) on our list of hiking destinations near Tokyo is Mount Takao.
A wildly famous hill for hiking, Mount Takao lies at a 50-min car/bus ride from the capital city. It has an endless stream of offerings for visitors looking for a quick yet effective respite from everyday life. From infinitely stretched mesmerizing views and a time-honored sacred house to magnificent visuals of Mount Fuji and captivating waterfalls, Mount Takao has all a person needs to revitalize their body and mind. That said, the locality receives heavy human foot-traffic, so only make the otherwise rewarding trip if you don’t mind a little company of strangers.
Mount Takao is lined with a horde of hiking courses, providing every visitor an opportunity to work their climbing skills. Simply put, beginners, intermediary and expert hikers all have one or another trekking route suited for their level. Moreover, if you wish to bring along the elderly, you can take a cable car to explore the enthralling natural wonders that lie all across and around Mount Takao.
Before we get to all the places worth visiting on Mount Takao, let’s get one thing straight; whether you stop at a particular tourist spot or choose to whiz your way to the top, you will see extraordinary natural scenes all along. As noted above, Mount Takao is blessed with the most splendid landscapes all over the place. That said, the tourist attractions are certainly worthy of an in-depth perusal.
Home to the mountain god Tengus, the Yakuoin Temple rests near the top of Mount Takao. It is a colorful, sacred house with a cheery atmosphere, thanks to the ever-happening rituals taking place inside. Zealous chants envelop the building as various religious traditions are practiced at the Yakuoin temple, such as the Goma Fire Ritual. Besides witnessing the monks' spiritual practices, visitors also get to experience bits of the ascetic lifestyle believers adopt in this Takao temple, which includes having a vegetarian meal known as shojin-ryori.
There is also a captivating waterfall close to the Yakuoin Temple that is supposedly reserved from the purification rituals of monks undergoing training. If you are fortunate enough, you might get a chance to soak in the flowing water of the falls. If not, then you can just witness the rigorous training ritual monks’ practice at the stream.
Another tourist-attracting stop is the Takao Monkey Park that is home to more than 40 Japanese Macaques. The super energetic monkeys at the park put up riveting performances, showcasing their impressive skills such as rope walking, unicycling, jiu-jitsu walking, leaping, etc. But of course, all said demonstrations are carried out under a trainer's supervision, so you don't have to worry about being in proximity of excited monkeys all alone!
Lying within the premises is a Wild Plant Garden that houses more than 500 plant species, each with its own unique appearance and story. If you find flora fascinating, you will be delighted with the numerous shrubs and trees present at the Wild Garden Park on Mount Takao.
The 599 Takao Museum is aremarkable complex that holds the most magnificent archives of the ecosystem on Mount Takao. If you want to learn about life on the mountain, a visit to this attraction is in order for you.
Lastly, once you get to the top, you can enjoy the most unparalleled views of Japan's tallest mountain. Mount Takao offers magnificent scenes of Fuji’s sky-high summit standing erect against deep blue skies, creating a spectacular vision for the eyes to relish.
If you want to witness the pictured scenery firsthand in its most natural and unadulterated state, a trip to Mount Takao has to be on your bucket list. Why? Because the top of Mount Takao gives visitors an uninterrupted, awe-inspiring view of Mount Fuji. Make sure you check in with the locals and plan you visit accordingly with the weather forecast – you wouldn’t want to climb all the way up there to be greeted by a cloudy, obscured Fuji, now, would you? Believe it or not, the splendid sight of the tallest Japanese mountain is one of the crucial reasons why many nature enthusiasts take on the thrilling trails on Mount Takao.
View of Mount Fuji from Mount Takao
A bonus feature worth exploring near Mount Takao’s base is the relaxing Keio Takaosan Onsen. The hot springs at the foot of the 599m high elevation are ideal for tackling fatigue and recharging yourself after mounting the hill.
Being a busy tourist destination, Mount Takao is well-connected with Tokyo. You can take the JR Chuo Line to Takao Station from Shinjuku station in Central Tokyo. After arriving at Takao station, get on the Keio line to get to Takaosanguchi Station. Walk five minutes on foot from Takaosanguchi following the signposts, and you can begin your hike up Mount Takao!
While there are many other hiking sights near Tokyo, the three mentioned in our guide are undoubtedly the most widely known and frequented. Live through the quintessential Japanese hiking experience by starting your trekking tours at any of the three mountains near Tokyo!