Sunday, August 03, 2014

Mount Takao (高尾山)

My last full day in Japan was spent visiting Mount Takao. Takaosan is located a little over an hour outside of Tokyo by train and is a nice day trip for those looking for a hike or a chairlift-assisted trip to a scenic picture taking spot with vending machines.

The soba shop lined street at the base of the mountain offers many places to eat lunch. My friends and I picked one of the many local soba shops. Soba with "tororo" (sticky grated yam) seems to be the speciality of the area based on all the menus I saw.

Takaosan offers some great views of the surrounding area and even Mt. Fuji on a clear day. The hike we took down was a bit strenuous but not overly long. It only took us 1.5 hours to get back down to the base. There are several shrines located on the mountain associated with the kami Tengu.

There is also a monkey habitat theme park where you can pay 500 yen to see sad monkeys in cages. I didn't pay admission because I had already seen a wild Takaosan monkey climbing on the chairlift system. He somehow managed to crawl inside one of the pillars before I could take a picture.


We took the chairlift up the mountain and hiked down. The ride was pretty fun and made me wish that the chairlift option had been open when I visited Whistler in BC. As an aside, I appreciate how touristy chairlifts and cable cars only cost around $5 in Japan compared to something like $30 in the U.S. and Canada.

Here is the view from atop Mount Takao. It was a bit hazy when we went so you couldn't see very far. Word is that on a clear day climbers can even spot Mt. Fuji.

Can you spot all the tiny stone statues hidden in the grass?

ANSWER: 5 (I think...)

Here is the adult tengu guarding the top of the mountain. There was also a "child" tengu who looked more like an eagle. While I have seen many tengu in my day, this is the first one I had seen with such a realistic human body and strange angel wings. He looks all ready for his anime debut!

We took a 1.5 hour nature hike down from the top of the mountain. This photo represents the most treacherous part where we had to balance on rocks so as to not get the bottoms of our shoes wet.

On the way down we stopped to visit the waterfall. Sadly they had already chained the gate to the small viewing area, forcing us to love nature from afar.