The fall leaves have been so beautiful lately. I was in such a daze trying to get over jet lag and find an apartment that I didn't even notice them last year, but this year I'm loving them. Some places even have an illumination weekend to display the leaves at night like they do for cherry blossoms. I'd been interested in hiking Mt. Takao for a while, but was waiting to go during leaf season. Finally, Raku and I went last week.
It takes about an hour on the train to get there from Tokyo, but it doesn't really feel that long. We caught a really nice view of Mt. Fuji on the way out - the best I've ever had, though we weren't able to see it from the top of Takao. At the mountain there are a number of different trails you can take as well as a cable car and a chair lift that go halfway up. When we arrived there was a forty minute wait for the cable car, but almost no line at all for the chair lift! Of the three trails that go the whole way we decided to take the Inariyama Trail on the way up, which runs along a ridge and is supposed to have the best views in fall. In spring and summer the Biwa Waterfall Trail is recommended for flowers. On the way down we took the Omotesando Trail, which is the main path and paved all the way. The official website was really helpful in figuring out the best course for us to take.
The way up was so peaceful and beautiful! I had been worried that even though we were going on a week day a Friday at the peak of leaf season might be too crowded. When I saw the line for the cable cars I got really worried, but this trail was great. We were never out of sight of others, and we did pass a number of people, but it was never annoying. The trail was steeper than I expected, particularly the first kilometer had a LOT of stairs, but it wasn't too strenuous. It was really great to be so far away from the city. I was reminded a lot of the forest at home, and honestly from the trail we could have been in the woods anywhere in the world.
On the way down we took the mail trail partly out of curiosity and partly because we thought it would be easier on our knees. It's paved the entire way, and this is the trail that the cable cars and chair lifts meet up with. Because so many people were going back to those the first thirty minutes felt like we were walking down a busy street in Tokyo! Luckily there was a man with a dog in his backpack that kept us entertained. Once the crowds thinned out it was better, but there are a number of snack stalls, temples, and bathrooms along the way, so there's no getting lost in the nature, you always know you're in Japan. The temples are really beautiful though and I'd recommend checking them out. Even though the path was paved it had some really steep parts as well, and by the end the arches of our feet were aching from the descent.
The summit was probably the least exciting part of the whole trip, which is a little sad. It was just incredibly crowded and dusty. The views were nice, but not fantastically better than the Inariyama Trail. We ate our picnic lunch and took a few pictures but hurried back to the trail pretty quickly.