Home » A hike up Mount Takao for a beautiful sunset

A hike up Mount Takao for a beautiful sunset

In 2019, my mate Derek told me he would hike up Mount Takao and asked me along.  He wanted to experience some of the “nature” Tokyo offered and see some stars.  It sounded like a good idea because I hadn’t been up the mountain in a few years and had never seen a sunset there.  Even though it wasn’t autumn, the best time for hiking in Japan, I decided to go.  The crazy crowds wouldn’t be missing.  And with the weather forecast being sunny, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.  It was a great day, and the sunset was amazing.

Mount Takado hiking trail number one start
The start of the number one trail.

We got the Keio Line from Shinjuku to Takaosanguchi, the closest station to the mountain.  The train trip took about fifty minutes.  Then after a soba lunch, we headed off to find our trail.  There are ten of them on Mount Takao, and we chose number one.  According to the internet, it was beginner-friendly and had good views.  We found a few parts very steep, though.

Tokyo seen from Mount Takao
You can see Shinjuku on the horizon.

It was a good climb, and we enjoyed it.  Yes, some parts left us a little short of breath, but nothing was taxing.  There were so many jizo statues and small shrines along the way.  We wondered what life might have been like in the old days.  

The climb took less than two hours, even with me taking lots of photos.  We were happy to breathe some fresh air.  And being a weekday, it was nice to be somewhere with few people. Compared to downtown Tokyo street, Mount Takao was mostly empty of people.  Those that we met gave us a friendly: “Konnichiwa.”  Derek got his wish.

people walking on mountain path under gate

It was great to reach the top.  Walking around the temples and shrines was good fun, as we got some nice shots of the buildings and tengu.  There was a lot to explore.  But, there are a lot of stairs depending on which turn you take, which can be hard on the legs. 

Around the temples, there were more people.  They had come by different trails and the cable car.  No one seemed to be heading to the top of Takao. 

Mount Takao Tengu
One of Mount Takao’s famous tengu.

Once we got to the summit, we saw why few were there.  Clouds covered Mount Fuji.  We wouldn’t give up so easily.  We would stay in case things changed.  And it did!

As we stood there, the cloud cover thinned out.  Eventually, Fuji’s summit poked its head out.  Soon enough, half was uncovered, and it was easy to see that strong winds were pushing the clouds around.  And as the sun continued to set, the colors of the scene changed as well.  All the different shades of yellow and orange you could imagine.  It was stunning.

Mount Takao temple

Fuji put on a great display.  Before the sun finally went down, some clouds formed into a dragon-like shape.  They coiled themselves around the peak.  It reminded me of the painting by Hokusai.  For us, it was a great way to enjoy that last bit of sunlight.

And when the light finally faded, what of the stars?  Well, they were pretty underwhelming, to be honest.  A few points of light appeared, but not too many nor too strongly.  Maybe it was due to light pollution?  We couldn’t wait any longer to see.  That train was waiting!

clouds over Mount Fuji

The trip back from the top to the cable car was an experience.  The path was pitch black as there were no lights.  We had one flashlight and one iPhone to show us the way.  It wasn’t the best situation, as the path isn’t all paved, and it can be pretty steep in some areas.  Some areas around the temples were locked, and we had to stumble around them.  Still, we got down in one piece.  On the cable car, some people who enjoyed the mountain’s beer garden joined us.

We had a great time that day.  The hike up was enjoyable, as was the time at the peak (clouds included).  If I had to make any complaints about Takao, it was that some of the trees and bushes were too high.  That interfered with some views.  It would be a good idea if someone trimmed them.   

Mount Takao at sunset
Can you see the dragon over Mount Fuji?

The other thing that would be nice is some illumination along the paths near the peak.  It would make things safer.  Lights would bring more people.  Still, as it is, Mount Takao is a great place to spend some time with friends and enjoy fabulous sunsets.  I recommend it!

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