Hiking in Tokyo: Sakura viewing (花見) at Mount Takao (高尾山) - Vikingess Voyages

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hiking in Tokyo: Sakura viewing (花見) at Mount Takao (高尾山)

Passing by cherry blossoms on the way up to a shrine in Takaosan
Photo: Anette

For people who want to get out of Tokyo to experience both Japanese nature and culture at once, there is one exceptional place where you can find what you are looking for: The sacred Mount Takao (Takaosan in Japanese). 

Hiking in Tokyo: Sakura viewing (花見) at Mount Takao (高尾山)

Outside Takaosanguchi Station (高尾山口)

It only takes about an hour to get to the start of the mountain trail from Shinjuku station, and it is fairly simple to get to the top. In fact, the hardest thing is probably not the hike itself but rather to find the right place to go in order to catch the train from inside the labyrinthian Shinjuku station, a place that could easily be characterized as every tourist's worst nightmare. You'll probably be fine once you get on the right train though. You just have to make sure to change trains at Takao Station, because the place you'd want to get off at is the Takaosanguchi Station. 
For those who aren't interested in hiking to the top of Takaosan it is also possible to ride a chairlift instead. But this is not really a hard hike, as the mountain is only 599 m high. 
Sakura trees and view from Mt Takao
This time we visited Takaosan mainly to enjoy the sight of the sakura, Japanese cherry blossoms. The sakura-season has more or less come to an end in Tokyo, but because of the colder temperature in the mountain, we could still experience the sakura in Takaosan along with other pretty flowers as well.
You can buy dango sweets at Mt Takao
Takaosan is a popular place also among Japanese visitors all year around, as it is considered a sacred mountain. Many people come to visit the shrines, and there are small shops along the path up to the summit where visitors can buy various types of food. 
Typical traditional Japanese buildings at Takaosan
In Takaosan you can also find a temple dating back to 744 called the Yakuo-in Yuki-ji. This temple offers various events throughout the year, and you can also try vegetarian food cooked in a style called shojin-ryori if you call them and reserve in advance. I've added their link at the bottom of this post for those interested.
A statue outside Yakuo-in Yuki-ji
People praying at the shrine
Japan takes pride in its four seasons, and there are different things to see depending on the time of the year you visit. Here are some photos I took at Takaosan of the pretty sakura flowers:
People doing hanami on Takaosan
A variety of flowers in bloom
Once you get back down to the station area you can enjoy some of the local restaurant and the atmosphere of traditional Japanese architecture. In the picture below you can see a man making soba.
A restaurant where you can see how your soba is made

Have you been to Takaosan? Or are you planning on a visit? Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think about the place! 


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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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