Mitake san (Mount Mitake) is an easy day trip from Tokyo. Located at 929 meters above sea level, it offers pretty hikes that easy to access. It’s a great way to relax after a few days in the capital (at least my version of relaxing!. It is a popular place with Tokyo residents and has the advantage of being less crowded than its neighbour, Takao san. The place is magical, especially in spring and autumn. It’s easy to forget that we are near Tokyo. I highly recommend a day trip to escape from Tokyo: hiking mount Mitake is easy and you will feel re-energised.
In order not to waste any time, I chose to take the bus as well as the cable car rather than walking. In fact, in November, the sun goes down at 4.30pm and I wanted to make the most of the day light. Some hikers stay for the night but it’s totally possible to go hiking to Mount Mitake from Tokyo. See the practical information at the end of this article for the climb without the cable car.
Once at the top of the cable car, take the path to the left which leads to a red torii-gate: a sign that you are entering a sacred place.
After about 10 minutes walk, the trail leads to a small shopping street. Great to stop if you need any supplies for the hike. It is also a small village with some traditional Buddhist guest houses. The entrance to the Musashi Mitake temple is a little further. A pretty temple which, according to legend, dates from over 2,000 years.
The path starts near the temple, next to the stairs. It then leads to a plateau and an observatory which offers beautiful views of the neighbouring mountains.
The hike starts after the observatory. The loop I recommend will take you to 2 waterfalls and the rock garden. The waterfalls aren’t amazing but the landscape that will lead you there is. That’s the real beauty, the journey, not the destination! From the observatory, follow the sign for rock garden going down on the left and easy to miss if you’re following people. Most hikers continue straight, so there will be fewer people on this trail. The trail will lead to the first waterfall: Nanayo.
The trail continues on the right. There are ladders to leads to a plateau. At the top, it’s possible to climb the rock on the left (with a rope) and it leads to a shrine. The path continues to the left of the sign and descends to meet with the river. The rock garden is a little further. Close to it, there are a few tables where you can eat your packed lunch.
The path leads to Ayahiro waterfall, that is higher than Nanayo waterfall.
The path leads to another Torii-gate and also a really big cedar called: Tengu cedar: a 350 years old, 60-meter-tall tree. A tengu is a creature found in Japanese folklore. It is usually depicted with both human and animal characteristics: a red face with a very long nose. I’m sure you’ve seen some during your trip!
From here, the path meets the one from the beginning. To go back to the station on foot through the cedar forest, take the paved trail on the right after the village (see map below).
Back to the station
As I was going back to the cable car, I realised I had lost my ticket. Because the queue was quite long, I decided to walk back. It was a really nice walk, through the forest. The walk is under the shade of giant cedars is pleasant, especially when it’s hot (it was still 24 degrees in mid November!). It takes about 30 minutes to reach the bus stop. It is possible to walk back to JR Mitake station but since my knee started to weaken after the descent, I chose to take the bus. They are fairly regular, although the line can be long in the early evening.
The hike presents no difficulty. However, the ground is slippery near the Nanayo waterfall (a hiker fell while trying to cross the small stream) and some passages are made on ladders. Autumn is my favorite season and I was fortunate to have great weather. Since Mount Mitake is a rather popular excursion, I expected to meet many more people there, especially in autumn when temperatures are cooler. Many visit Mount Takao, also an easy excursion from Tokyo: but hiking Mount Mitake is less crowded and therefore, more enjoyable.
Without going in flip-flops, trainers are fine. You will of course see people equipped like they’re climbing the mount Fuji! Some areas are equipped with ladders to facilitate the ascent. But nothing very steep.
It takes around 1.5 hours to reach Mitake from Tokyo Shinjuku station. From Tokyo Shinjuku, take the train to Ome. Some are direct but most of the time you will need to change at Tachikawa station. Then take the Ome Line to Mitake. See below a list of the lines you will need to take to access mount Mitake from Tokyo Shinjuku:
- Chuo Line Shinjuku – Tachikawa (25min)
- Chuo Line Tachikawa – Ome (30min)
- Ome Line Ome – Mitake (18min)
Arriving at Mitake station, take the bus to the Mitaketozan cable car (10 minutes) or 40 minutes on foot (quite steep!). I recommend taking the bus to arrive earlier and take advantage of the light, especially in autumn when the sun goes down at 4.30pm! Then take the Mitaketozan cable car for approximately 5 minutes.
For another idea of a day trip from Tokyo, see the article on Boso no Mura, an open-air museum with a reconstruction of a village from the Edo period