Spring Hiking at South Takao

Happy Earth Day! On Sunday, the hiking/charity group I’ve joined for the past five years, went on a 15km hike along the South Takao Ridge. It’s been a while since I did a solid hike, and what better time to get back into it than a day dedicated to spreading awareness of the need to protect and preserve the world we live in.

South TakaoFallen petals from a late-blooming sakura tree

Located near the south-western border of Tokyo, Mt. Takao is an extremely popular place to visit since it’s a relatively easy hike and can be reached from Tokyo city in less than an hour. In fact you basically step out of the train station and onto the mountain! As you can imagine, it gets very crowded. But if you diverge from the main entrance, there are some really great trails that will take you away from the ‘circus’ and into the wild.

From Takaosanguchi Station, it’s a 4km walk to the start of the South Takao Ridge trail. On the way, you pass through Ukai Toriyama, an insanely exquisite restaurant complex that specializes in traditional grilled cooking. It feels like a little village, or perhaps the set of a movie, but the whole place—private dining rooms, kitchens, ponds, gardens—is all part of the same restaurant. I would love to dine here one day. Surrounding the restaurant is a special type of Japanese maple that changes to red twice a year. It’s bizarre to see autumn colours in spring!

Ukai ToriyamaUkai ToriyamaUkai Toriyama
The entrance to the trail is marked by a very simple handwritten sign. When doing these local trails, I’ve come to realize it’s important to know how to read/recognize Japanese characters (kanji). At every intersection in the path there are proper wooden signs, though they’re not always written in English. It also pays to have a good hiking map for three reasons – One: even if you can’t read the kanji, you can match up the words on the sign with the words on the paper. Two: they show the estimated walking time between different junctions. Three: it’s hard to get phone reception in the mountains, so you can’t always rely on Google Maps!
South TakaoSouth TakaoSouth TakaoSouth TakaoSouth Takao
One of the things I love about hiking in spring is seeing forests lush green and full of colourful flowers. Along the hike, we saw beautiful ferns, wisteria, various wildflowers, and red and pink mountain azaleas. There were lots of bugs and butterflies flying around, and we heard many birds calling out. All the sounds and sights of the forest!

While it feels like you’re on an adventure when the foliage is dense and the track narrow, it’s also great when the trail suddenly opens up to beautiful views over the land below. It’s like a reward for the hours of climbing and is definitely a great boost to keep going – something hikers like me need! We were blessed with good weather so could see the Tanzawa mountain ranges in the distance – another great place for hiking.

South TakaoFrom the top of Mt. Nakazawa – standing in Tokyo, looking out to KanagawaSouth TakaoSouth TakaoSouth TakaoShrine at top of Mt. KusatoSouth TakaoSouth TakaoLake Shiroyama (Honzawa Dam)South TakaoSouth TakaoSouth Takao

South Takao Ridge is an intermediate-level trail, but it could be considered hard if you’re not a regular hiker. Because you’re going along the ridge over various peaks, there are a lot of ups and downs. It can get a little tiring so you need good shoes, plenty of water and a lot of willpower!

No matter if it’s an easy or tough hike, I always feel good after a day spent in the outdoors. The fresh air, the sunshine, the feeling of accomplishment, living in the moment and really embracing the world around us… there’s a lot to gain and be thankful for!

South Takao

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32 thoughts on “Spring Hiking at South Takao

  1. I’ve never seen the Japanese approach to gardening applied on such a grand scale! What gorgeous scenery … thank you for letting us tag along.

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  2. 森の天井から春の日差しがさす中で、道端に咲く可憐な花を眺めたり、思いがけない蝶や昆虫に出会ったり、そして姿が見えない鳥の声に耳を傾けながら楽しんだハイキングは、とても素晴らしい経験でしたね。私にはそんなに長距離のハイキングは無理かもしれませんが、高尾山口のすき家造り・うかい鳥山料亭で、会席料理を賞味してみたいです。ハイキングが大好きな英恵さんも一緒に料亭でくつろぎませんか。

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    1. 6〜7時間のハイキングで疲れましたが、綺麗な所で他のメンバーとよく喋っていて、楽しい一日でした。
      今度そのレストランに行きませんか。私もとても興味あります!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What an amazing walk – it looks such a beautiful place! What a wonderful spot to be able to hike in and yet so conveniently close to Tokyo. Your photos are stunning! Am happy to have discovered your blog via Restless Jo and her Monday Walks and am now following along. Thanks also for visiting and following my blog, much appreciated best wishes Rosemary (Le Chic En Rose).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Rosemary. That whole mountain range is full of great trails and I love going there when I need a break from the city rush! Glad to have connected with you, too :)

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    1. Hi Melanie :) Thank you! It would be a fantastic hike during a visit to Tokyo. The main Mt Takao trails are also very popular (though much easier).

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