There’s nothing better than getting out into nature, and walking through valleys and up mountains is the perfect way to forget about the stresses of big city life and relax. To help you do just that, here’s our compilation of top Tokyo hiking trails, ranging from easy to expert.
Mount Koubou: Easy Tokyo Hiking
For those just looking to dip a toe into the Tokyo hiking scene, Mt. Koubou is an excellent starting point. Set in the foothills south of Mt. Oyama, this easy 2.5-hour hike is especially popular during cherry blossom season, when lanterns illuminate the flowers in the early evening.
Nearest station: Odakyu Hadano. From the station, turn right and walk along the road for about 20 minutes. The trail commences on your right just a little way up from the 7-Eleven.
For a gentle ramble, head to Kinchakuda and Hiwada—the trail takes around 2-3 hours, and feels like more of a country walk than a hike. There’s a little bit of a real hike at the end, so you can feel like you’ve earned the view, and there’s even an organic cafe and ponies to make it worthwhile. Yes, we said ponies.
Along the route are waterwheels and, depending on the season, cherry blossoms and wild flowers too. Climbing Mt. Hiwada (the end part) may seem daunting to non-hiker cheapos, but it is actually more of a hill, at only 305m high. From the top, you can enjoy views of Fuji-san and Tokyo before heading back down to the main road and either catching the train or walking back the way you came. See our dedicated post on Hiking Kinchakuda for more details.
Nearest station: Hanno. Cheapo tip: Take the Seibu-Ikebukuro Line from Ikebukuro—it costs 470 yen.
Mount Tsukuba: Easy
The double-peaked Mt. Tsukuba is one of the most popular climbs near Tokyo, with an easy route and spectacular views of the Kanto plain. It is one of the top 100 famous mountains in Japan, with a somewhat one-sided rivalry against Mt. Fuji.
You’ll find a match-making shrine perched along the route, reflecting the forever-linked twin peaks of Tsukuba. Although the mountain is only 887m high, it can still offer some fun challenges—especially on the way down, as it gets pretty steep. Many people hike up and then use the ropeway to return, saving their legs and enjoying the view. There are different routes to choose from, and you can enjoy an abandoned theme-park on the way up, as well as a hot spring. Read our article on hiking Mt. Tsukuba for more information.
Nearest station: Tsukuba. Buses from the station will take you to two different points on the mountain, and leave hourly.
Mount Takao: Easy
Another popular spot for Tokyoites desperate to escape the city, Mt. Takao has everything you need for a good Japanese hike: a variety of different trails, an unusual shrine, views of Mt. Fuji, monkeys, and a cable-car option too (oh, and packs of the extraordinarily fit elderly).
For the simplest hike, Trail Option 1—the Omotesando Trail—is the best, as it is widely used and takes just 90 minutes or so from the base. The Kasumidai Loop Trail is also easy, and takes you through the forests. You can try the Biwa Waterfall Trail too, which is about 90 minutes long and follows the stream, with chances to see monks undergoing ascetic training at the waterfalls.
Close to the summit (along Trail 1) you’ll find Yakuoin Shrine, famed for its enshrined mountain gods and crow-beaked tengu. Other attractions to look out for on Mt. Takao include the local monkey-park, wild flower garden and Keio Takaosan Onsen Gokurakuyu (with separate baths). Beyond the summit is a network of trails leading to other peaks in the surrounding national park. See Ridgeline Images for more details on hiking Mt. Takao.
Nearest station: Keio Takasanguchi. From there, you can hike up the mountain (about 2 hours), or walk to Kiyotaki Station, where you can take a combination of cable cars and colorful open ropeway lifts (ski-lift style) for 470 yen one way, depositing you halfway up the mountain.
People don’t often hike Nokogiriyama, as there is a ropeway and plenty of walking to do at the top, but if you want to boost your step count for the day, there are two trails to the top which are steep but manageable. The routes (see below) both take about 50 minutes, and merge at the top near a quarry site. There’s little to separate the two besides a few different sightseeing spots.
The Sharikimichi route and the Kanto Fureai No Michi route begin at the same place, one with daunting stairs and one without, so that might make your decision for you. Hiking is not the main attraction of the mountain but is a beautiful option, with the aforementioned quarry site and abandoned wooden transport structures to see. Be aware that some points on the trail are not clearly marked, so keep an eye on signs highlighted in provided maps. Once you reach the top of the mountain, you basically continue trekking from the giant Buddha to hundreds of smaller Buddhas and the Temple to the Kannon—so there’s no rest for the wicked! Read more about hiking Nokogiriyama.
Nearest station: Hamakanaya. The ropeway and hiking trails are a short walk from the station if you are arriving from Tokyo. From the Yokohama area, travel to Keikyu-Kurihama station, then get a bus to the ferry port and a ferry to the mountain base.
Mount Mitake: Enthusiast
A real nature-lover’s delight, Mt. Mitake is filled with all the flora and fauna you could ask for, and is the gate to the Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park. There is a cablecar, but if you decide to hike, it’s about a 60-minute walk from the valley to Mitake Shrine, and then you can walk for another hour or so to reach the beautiful “Rock Garden”—a forest valley with a stream, moss-carpeted rocks and waterfalls.
From there, it’s another hour or so to the summit of Mt. Otake, with various hiking trails to other viewpoints and mountains. There is a Visitor Centre between then ropeway and the shrine, with maps for the different trails, but note that it is closed on Mondays. Ready to go? First read more details on hiking Mt. Mitake.
Nearest station: JR Mitake. From there, you can take a bus to Takimoto cablecar station (10 minutes, 270 yen), then the cablecar (6 minutes, 570 yen one way) about halfway up the mountain.
Mount Mitsumine: Enthusiast
The Saitama side of the Chichibu-Tama-Kai Park is home to Mount Mitsumine and Lake Chichibu, which means superb hiking and beautiful lake views! The course includes breathtaking vistas from suspension bridges, a 2000-year-old shrine, and plenty of mountain huts for hikers and campers.
The full trail takes about 5 hours with time for gazing at views. There aren’t many places to eat—so you should stock up and bring your own lunch. This Mt. Mitsumine guide has a list of all the sites and routes. For more details, see our post on this awesome Tokyo hike.
Nearest station: Mitsumine-Guchi. Take a bus from there to the Owa stop. On your return, you can take the bus from the lake all the way to the station.
Mount Oyama: Enthusiast
One of Tokyo’s top 50 scenic sites, Mt. Oyama gets better the higher you climb. There are a variety of different routes, so you can choose your difficulty level (including the option to just ride the cablecar and enjoy the views).
Assuming you do actually want to trek though, and are looking for a Tokyo hiking challenge, you can choose either the Yabitsu-Toge Pass or the Otoko-zaka Trail for some serious leg-burn. Mt. Oyama has an awesome shrine and temple to see, and is also famous for tofu—so you’ll see some tofu restaurants on the initial ascent to the ropeway (which is where the trails begin).
The onna-zaka (women’s trail) is shorter than the otoko-zaka (men’s trail), so if you feel like proving a point, this is an added bonus. However, the women’s trail does pass by “seven wonders”, so there’s a bonus for us weak and frail sorts. Once you reach the Oyama Afuri Shrine, you can follow signs for the Shimosha Trail to the main shrine and summit (although it is closed from Feb-April). Here are more details on the Mt. Oyama hike.
Nearest station: Isehara. From the station, you can catch a bus to the start of the trails. There is an information centre with maps at the station too.
Mount Kawanori: Enthusiast
A step up in the hiking stakes introduces Mt. Kawanori, which can be climbed year-round—but be prepared for snow in the winter.
The hike has some risky bits, so you need to watch your footwork. The first rest station can be reached after about 35 minutes. After a rather precarious path which rises above the river, you arrive at the towering Hyakuhiro Waterfall. From here on, it’s an unyielding 100-minute climb to the summit, which makes an excellent spot to roll out the picnic mat and bask in the natural surroundings. On this ascent there are some ropes added for support, and a fork in the road allows you to choose a tougher trail (straight ahead) or a better-maintained trail (to your left) on your way to the summit. Find out more about hiking Mt. Kawanori.
Nearest station: JR Okutama. From there, it’s a 15-minute bus ride to the Kawanori-bashi bus stop, where the trail starts.
Three-Mountain Hike: Expert
If one mountain isn’t enough for you, then why not climb three in a day? The three-peak hike is actually not as crazy as it sounds, and the views are definitely worth it. Combining Mounts Nokogiri, Otake and Mitake, the hike has a steep start, but once you reach the ridge, it is pretty easy.
There is some clambering, and you do need to be in pretty good shape to make it, plus in the winter there is likely to be snow. If climbing during these times, it’s advisable to bring crampons—and setting off early is a must, since it will get dark around 5pm. There are some shrines along the route, as well as cedar forests, and incredible views of Mt. Fuji (if you’re lucky) from Mt. Otake. If you fancy it, you can hike an extra 2 hours to Tsuru-tsuru onsen to soak your legs, or continue to Mitake and catch the ropeway down instead. See more about this three-day feat of Tokyo hiking here.
Nearest station: JR Okutama. Leave the station and turn left, then cross the bridge over the Tama River and enter the forest path on the right-hand side of the road. Follow the signs for Mount Nokogiri (鋸山) and Mount Otake (大岳山). Make a note of the kanji, as the signs often lack English.
Mount Kentoku: Expert
If you’re up for a challenge, then look no further than Mt. Kentoku in Yamanashi Prefecture. The hike first passes by the Kougen Hut, which is set on a delightful plateau with plenty of Sika deer milling about to keep you company.
You can manage this hike in a day or spend the night at the Kougen Hut plateau, which has a campsite as well as sleeping spaces indoors—it is not a hostel though; the hut is unsupervised. From there, getting to the summit of Mt. Kentoku takes a little over 90 minutes, and for those game enough, just below the peak there is a sheer rock precipice which can be tackled via a long chain. You can either hike a steeper route down the other side of the mountain, or return the same way. For more details on this awesome hike, see this post.
Nearest station: JR Enzan. If you’re planning to complete this hike as a day trip, make sure you’re on an early train, as Enzan Station is 2.5 hours by local train from Shinjuku. From the station, you have a choice of either jumping on a Nishizawa Gorge-bound bus, or forking out for a 20-minute taxi ride.
Special thanks to David at Ridgeline Images for helping us with some of the hiking spots and images in this post. For all your Tokyo hiking needs, check them out here.