Among the numerous tourist spots in Tokyo, one spot with firmly-rooted popularity is Mt. Takao. It is located about 1 hour away from Shinjuku and allows visitors to enjoy casual mountain climbing while savoring the mountain’s abundant nature. As of October 2015 the nearest train station Takaosanguchi Station has been renewed and a new onsen facility has been opened, making Mt. Takao an even more enjoyable spot to visit.
Although you can enjoy Mt. Takao at any time of year, this time we’d like to introduce “Diamond Fuji”, a natural phenomenon only visible in late December. The time for Diamond Fuji changes depending on the year, so you should check the Mt. Takao official website before visiting. (In 2015 it occurred from 12/19~12/24 at around 16:30.)
Climbing up the mountain
Mt. Takao has 8 different climbing courses that range from beginner to advanced, but rest assured that even if you can’t climb the mountain at all, they offer cable cars up the mountainside. For our trip, we took trail No. 1 in order to reach the mountaintop. Trail No. 1 has a paved road so it is easy to climb even for absolute mountain-climbing beginners. In late December there are just a scant few autumn leaves still clinging to the trees.
About 1 hour up the mountain road there is a Buddhist temple called Yakuo-in. When you visit the shrine, you will be greeted by a statue of a tengu, which is a long-nosed Japanese mythological creature said to live on Mt. Takao.
Arriving at the mountaintop
After about 2 hours of climbing we reached the mountaintop. From the top you can see all of Tokyo. The weather is especially clear during winter so you might even be able to see the Tokyo Sky Tree 60km in the distance.
And of course you will see Mt. Fuji, towering magnificently in the distance and capped with a light coat of snow. Just the sight of Mt. Fuji made the entire trip worthwhile. At the mountaintop, even though there were 2 hours until sunset there were plenty of sightseers setting up their camera tripods and breathing frosty white air.
We spent 2 hours waiting and warming our bodies with a hot meal of wild vegetable soba noodles, a Mt. Takao specialty dish. Finally at 16:00 the sun had fallen considerably in the sky and was touching Mt. Fuji.
For about 30 minutes the sun slowly began to touch Mt. Fuji. (of course, the sun isn’t actually touching Mt. Fuji.)
And then finally at 16:33, “Diamond Fuji” appeared, much to the delight of the sightseers who cried out in unison!
At 16:35 the sun slowly disappeared into the caldera of Mt. Fuji and the short-but-sweet heavenly show came to a close. We gave some applause for the natural show we had seen, and quickly headed back to the cable car boarding area. During the Diamond Fuji time period the operating hours for cable cars are extended to 18:00. You can also descend the mountain without using a cable car but it quickly becomes very dark after sunset so you must bring a flashlight with you.
The charming winter season of Mt. Takao
Mt. Takao is a place where you can enjoy the seasons of Japan while mountain climbing and catch a rare glimpse of Japan’s symbol Mt. Fuji glimmering like a diamond. There are other places where you can see “Diamond Fuji” however there are few places in the Tokyo metropolitan area where you can see such a beautiful view. If you’re visiting Tokyo in mid/late-December, why not come to see the “Jewel of Japan” that you can’t see at any other time?
For information on how to get to Mt. Takao please check the related pages at the bottom of the page.