Are you tired of the busy city life in Tokyo? Do you want to stretch your legs or enjoy a deep breath of fresh air? You might be feeling that it’s a big deal to go hiking in the mountains from a big city such as Tokyo, but there are quite a few destinations close by that you can visit, without having to spend the night.
Here’s an introduction to the mountains that can be easily accessed by bus or train from Tokyo. All of them are friendly mountains for beginners too! Enjoy the greenery and wash away your stresses from the excessively crowded city of Tokyo!
1. Mt. Takao (高尾山) in Tokyo
Mt. Takao is probably the easiest option if you want to go mountain hiking in Tokyo. Many elementary schools send their students there for day trips, which reflects that it’s a very easy hike, even for children! The easiest course only takes about two hours to get to the top. If you are still worried it might be too tough, you can ride a cable car to the middle of the mountain. At the base of the mountain is a popular tourist area with various shops where you can enjoy a variety of food and even a soak in the hot springs! Mt. Takao is only an hour and a half away from central Tokyo.
2. Mt. Mitake (御岳山) in Tokyo
Many people visit this refreshing place to be re-energized as they face the daily stresses of life. Mt. Mitake is a famous “power spot” - a place where you can heal yourself and recharge your energy from nature. Mt. Mitake is also famous for the beautiful colors of its tree leaves during the fall. You can ride a cable car from the nearest station to the start of the hiking trail while enjoying beautiful views of the city. The hike to the summit where the Musashi Mitake Shrine is located takes around 1 - 1.5 hours. There is also a shrine that celebrates dogs on the way to the top, so you might see people hiking with their dogs!
3. Mt. Odake (大岳山) in Tokyo
If you make it to the top of Mt. Mitake, we recommend that you challenge yourself to trek up this mountain. Mt. Odake is known as one of the top 200 mountains in Japan. There are various courses to the top that you can choose from, depending on your experience and fitness levels. On sunny days, you can see Mt. Fuji and other beautiful mountains from the top of Mt. Odake. When you walk back down to the bottom, opt for the route that takes you through the rock garden, passing a waterfall and interesting rocks along the way. It’s about two hours from the center of Tokyo to Mt. Odake’s nearest station.
4. Owakudani (大涌谷) in Kanagawa
Owakudani is a volcanic valley that was created over 3,000 years ago. You won’t experience the changing four seasons here, but you will come face-to-face with the power of nature as volcanic white smoke plumes from the valley. You can’t actually “hike” the mountain but you can definitely enjoy its natural setting by riding the ropeway that leads to the valley. This is the perfect place to visit if you want to be on top of a mountain but don’t want to climb up on foot. From central Tokyo to the nearest ropeway station is about two hours, followed by a 25-minute ropeway ride to the top of the valley.
5. Mt. Oyama (大山) in Kanagawa
Kanagawa prefecture’s Mt. Oyama has long been revered as a holy mountain. It rises to 1,252 meters in height but is known as an easy mountain to hike. Simply take a bus from the nearest station, Isehara, to the cable bus stop from where you can journey to the hiking trailhead. On the way to the top, there is a spot called “Fujimi-dai," which offers the best views of Mt. Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan. It’s even better than the view of Mt. Fuji from the top of Mt. Oyama, so don’t forget to check it out when you pass this point! From Tokyo to Isehara station is 1.5 hours and the hike to the top takes about two hours.
6. Mt. Kobo (弘法山) in Kanagawa
Mt. Kobo is located in Kanagawa prefecture and rises to just 230 meters in height, which is not very high in terms of mountains. It’s famed for its beautiful sakura blossoms in spring, but you can still enjoy nature during summer and fall. There are also three other mountains nearby, so you can enjoy multiple mountain hikes! The area is known as Mt. Kobo Park and its hiking courses are neatly organized so that children can enjoy hiking too. At the base of the mountains is the Tsurumaki Onsen (a hot spring) where you can wash away the sweat and tiredness from your hike. The journey from central Tokyo to Mt. Kobo Park takes around 1.5 hours and the hike about two hours.
7. Mt. Ono (大野山) in Kanagawa
Mt. Ono is the best mountain for enjoying views of Mt. Fuji and has been selected as one of the top 100 Mt. Fuji viewing spots in the Kanto region. As you climb up, the sky appears to open up before you - there is nothing between you and the sky at the top! At the top of this mountain used to be a ranch and you can still see its wide and beautiful grassy field. As the grassy field is flat, you might feel like you’re just relaxing in the park, accompanied by an extraordinary view and fresh mountain air. When you come down to the bottom of the mountain, you can stop by the Japanese public bath Sakura-Yu to rejuvenate your body! Mt. Ono is around 1.5 hours away from central Tokyo and it takes about the same time to climb up to the top.
8. Mt. Nokigiri (鋸山) in Chiba
Situated on the Boso Peninsula is Mt. Nokigiri whose summit offers wonderful ocean views. The surrounding area is touristy, with many souvenir shops and hot springs. If you want to enjoy a sightseeing atmosphere while hiking, then this is the perfect place to go! They also have a ropeway where you can enjoy great views, which is open from 9am to 5pm. If you’re feeling energetic, however, of course you can hike up independently. Don’t forget to stop by the most famous viewing spot at Kangetsu-dai, a Nihon-ji temple where you can greet the Buddha and enjoy the “view of hell”!
9. Mt. Hiwada (日和田山) in Saitama
Mt. Hiwada is a 305-meter-high mountain that is known as the symbol of Hidaka City in Saitama prefecture. There is the option to choose a harder course, Otoko zaka, or an easier course, Onna zaka when hiking up this mountain. You will pass through two torii (traditional Japanese shrine gates) and an actual shrine on the way to the top. It takes one hour to get to the nearest train station, Koma Station(高麗駅), followed by a 20-minute walk to get to the trailheads. From the starting point to the top will take about one hour.
10. Mt.Daibosatsu (大菩薩嶺) in Yamanashi
Mt.Daibosatsu is a 2,057-meter-high mountain that’s located in Yamanashi! It’s pretty high and you might think that you can’t challenge this mountain but in fact, the hiking’s not too hard! The mountain road is nicely organized and it’s popular among beginner hikers. It takes around 2.5 hours to hike to the top of the mountain from where you can enjoy a beautiful view of Mt. Fuji on sunny days. It takes two hours from Tokyo to the nearest train station but from there, you will need to take a taxi or local bus for 40 minutes to arrive at the mountain’s trailheads.
11. Mt. Akagi (赤城山) in Gunma
Mt. Akagi is one of the numerous mountains you can visit in the Gunma area and has many famous spots with great views. The top of the mountain is called Mt. Kurobi-san(黒檜山) and rises to 1,828 meters in height. You can choose the difficulty of the hiking course depending on your experience level and even if you select the easiest course, you can still fully enjoy the natural setting. The beginner’s course will take one to three hours and the middle course takes three to four hours. From Tokyo, you can take a bullet train and then a local train to Maebashi, which will take around 1.5 hours. Then take a one-hour bus ride to the mountain area.
12. Mt. Tsukuba (筑波山) in Ibaraki
Mt. Tsukuba is the second most famous mountain in Japan after Mt. Fuji! It has an amazingly beautiful view, yet it is not that difficult to climb. It’s 877 meters in height and is very popular due to its relatively easy climb. It takes around one to two hours to get to the top and there is an extremely easy course for families. There are two different peaks at the top of the mountain known as Mt. Nantai-san and Mt. Nyotai-san. You can easily climb both on the same day or ride the ropeway or cable car that also accesses them. From Tokyo, it takes around one hour on the Tsukuba Express to reach the trailheads.