One of the best parts of Japan is seeing all the fall colors. Mount Takao, is only about 30 minutes by train outside of Tokyo, and is a very popular destination for hiking, and fall foliage viewing.
This is the view that greeted us outside the Takao train station:
It lets out at the bottom of the mountain on the outskirts of Hachioji city. After a short walk from the station, we were on the trail up the mountain. We chose the easiest trail, which is about 90 minutes each way, and is paved all the way to the top.
After a few minutes we passed the cable car entrance, which was swamped with people, and had a sign saying that there was a 70 minute wait. The lower part of the mountain in particular was very crowded:
We made it up to the cable car exit after about 40 minutes of hiking, and there were tons of people waiting around again.
We were already pretty high up at this point:
Here’s a view of Hachioji city from the same height.
About halfway up, we found Yakuoin temple, which was erected as tribute to Japanese mountain gods of fortune called “Tengu.” The first part of the temple we encountered was the stupa, which houses various Buddhist relics:
As you can see, it also had some great Fall foliage:
We continued on our way, and reached the temple’s main hall. This is a popular area of the mountain, so it got pretty crowded again.
There were also tons of people burning incense and praying to the Tengu. Here are some statues representing them:
It was also another great area to see the beautiful Fall colors:
Upon reaching the peak, we were treated to another amazing view of the city of Hachioji:
In an unexpected surprise, we also got a decent view of Mt. Fuji. It’s hard to see in the picture, but it’s the slightly lighter peak in the very back center:
At this point, we were pretty hungry, and we had burned through all our snacks, so we decided to get some food. Our first stop was a booth selling hand-made yakidango:
Dango is pounded rice in the shape of a ball and “yaki” means roasted or grilled on an open flame. This particular dango also had a variety of seeds (including black and white sesame) mixed in. After roasting, it is covered with a sweet and salty miso and soy sauce glaze.
We also found a booth that was selling a particular grape soft-serve ice cream, which is flavored with a kind of grape vinegar brewed on the mountain. Both items were really good, and we had a nice break while we snacked.
This is what the dango looks like as it is being prepared:
Since it was getting dark, we decided to finish up, and head back down. But we couldn’t resist stopping for one more dango stick. This one was mixed with ground, black sesame seeds only, and was served with a cup of gingko tea:
Here’s that same view of Hachioji city from before, but at night this time:
All in all, it was an easy trip, and only a mildly strenuous hike (there are more difficult trails if you desire), with some fun sights and great foliage.