1. Hyakuhiro Falls
    Photo: Attic/Pixta
  2. Lake Chuzenji and Mt Nikko-Shirane in autumn
    Photo: Hiro1775/Dreamstime
  3. Kita-Dake
    Photo: Nicholas Courtney/Dreamstime

Best day and weekend hikes in and around Tokyo

Swap the concrete jungle for a lush green one and go trekking through these mountain trails. By Nick Narigon

Written by
Time Out Tokyo Editors

When you've spent your time in Tokyo, it’s easy to forget that 70 percent of Japan is made of mountains. If you're a nature lover, there are lots of hilly treks and jungle trails to explore.

Here are some of the most beautiful trails in and around Tokyo, a number of which you can even do as a day trip. To help you decide which ones to conquer, we've given each mountain trail a star rating out of five for difficulty, plus information on how to get to the starting point.

The prime season for hiking is autumn, when the temperatures are cooler, the air is dryer, the foliage is a work of art and the views are pristine. However, springtime and early summer is lovely, too: the weather is comfortable for outdoor activities and you'll get to admire seasonal blooms as well.

RECOMMENDED: More day trips from Tokyo

Easy day hikes

Mt Jinba (855m)

The nearby Mt Takao (599m) is one of the most heavily trafficked mountains in the world, attracting about 2.6 million visitors annually. So, for a less crowded route, head down the road to Mt Jinba, famed for the slightly phallic white statue (it’s meant to be a horse) at its summit. The 18.5km (total) route ends at Takao and the flat traverse along the ridge can be completed in about six hours.
Difficulty level ★★
How to get there From Shinjuku Station, take the Keio or Chuo line to Takao Station, then hop on the bus towards Jinba Kogenshita and get off at the last stop.

Mt Tsukuba (877m)

At the centre of Ibaraki Prefecture, Mt Tsukuba (877m) is often seen as a place of great spiritual energy, especially around the 800-year-old Japanese cedar tree (Shihosugi) and various rock formations. Along the trail, one pile of boulders depicts two ships passing in the sea, while another portrays a frog with an open mouth. Follow one of two three-hour round-trip courses: the winding 2.8km Shirakumobashi course or the steep 2.5km Miyukigahara course.
Difficulty level ★★
How to get there From Asakusa Station, take the Tsukuba Express to Tsukuba Station, then take the Tsukuba shuttle bus to Tsukubasan Jinja Iriguchi.

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  • Ome

From Mitake Station, it's about 35 minutes on foot to the hiking trail leading up to Mt Mitake. During your 90-minute long trek to the summit, graced by the ancient Musashi Mitake Shrine, you'll pass through the tiny Mitakesan village. Here you can shop for souvenirs or stop by old minshuku (Japanese-style inns) that have been serving both pilgrims and tourists for decades. One of the oldest minshuku is the combined guest- and teahouse Higashibaba, which serves traditional Japanese sweets or light meals.

There's another 90-minute hiking trail that starts and ends at the shrine and loops around the mountain, taking you through dense forest. On your way, you’ll pass the Nagaodaira Observatory as well as the Ayahiro Falls and a rock garden with impressive moss-covered stone formations.
Difficulty level ★
How to get there From Shinjuku Station, take the Chuo line to Ome Station, then take the Ome line to Mitake Station.

Mt Otake (1,266.5m)

The Musashi Mitake Shrine at the summit of Mt Mitake is also the starting point for the hike to Mt Otake (sometimes spelt 'Odake'). It's an extended version of the hike around Mt Mitake and takes two to three hours to complete. The semi-strenuous trek takes you through the natural rock landscape and past Ayahiro Falls. The summit also offers the obligatory view of Mt Fuji.
Difficulty level ★★
How to get there From Shinjuku Station, take the Chuo line to Ome Station, then take the Ome line to Mitake Station.


Mt Kawanori (1,363m)

Overlooking the scenic river valley of Okutama (pictured), Mt Kawanori’s main attraction is the beautiful Hyakuhiro Falls. In summer, this hike isn't so remarkable, but autumn and winter bring serenity and gorgeous views of the snow and ice. It takes three-and-a-half hours to reach the summit, with some challenging climbs and descents. The return trip takes another three hours to reach Hatonosu Station, for a total hike of 14km and roughly seven hours. 
Difficulty level ★★★ 
How to get there From Shinjuku Station, take the Chuo line’s express train to Okutama Station, then take a local bus from stand No 1 to Kawanoribashi.

Mt Mitsutoge (1,785m)

The well marked trail from Mitsutoge Station to Mt Mitsutoge offers a bit of variety, comfortably combining steep climbs, switchbacks and bridges. Near the top, you’ll pass the 88 Buddhas (there are only 81 remaining) dressed in red, and the popular rock-climbing wall. There are splendid views of Mt Fuji along the entire 15km, six-hour trip, and the descent is a rolling path overlooking Lake Kawaguchi.
Difficulty level ★★ ½
How to get there From Shinjuku Station, take the Chuo line to Otsuki Station, then hop on the Fujikyuko line to Mitsutoge Station.

Two-day hikes

Mt Kita-Dake (3,193m)

Japan’s second highest mountain, Mt Kita-Dake is part of the Southern Alps mountain range and is comparable to climbing Mt Fuji. From the parking lot at Hirogawara, go across the pedestrian bridge. After 20 minutes, you’ll reach a fork – take the trail to the right, which gets steep quickly. The 7km hike ends five to six hours later at the Katanokoya lodge, where there’s also a campground. On day two, it's a 45-minute hike to the summit for sunrise. Ambitious hikers can keep on going to Mt Aino-dake (3,189m), Japan’s fourth highest mountain.
Difficulty level ★★★★★
How to get there From Shinjuku Station, take the Chuo line’s limited express Azusa train to Kofu Station, then take a two-hour bus ride to Hirogawara. More info
Where to stay Katanokoya on Mt Kita-Dake (the mountain hut is temporarily closed until July 22). To stay overnight before or after your hike, check out Kofu Fujiya Hotel.

Mt Oku-Shirane (2,578m)

Also known as Nikko-Shirane, this is the highest peak in Nikko National Park. A 15km loop winds its way up the mountain range, allowing you to reach not only Mt Oku-Shirane, but also Mt Mae-Shirane (2,373m) and Mt Goshiki (2,379m). The trip can easily be turned into an overnight adventure, with several other nearby mountains to explore. 
Difficulty level ★★★
How to get there From Asakusa Station, take the Tobu-Nikko line to Tobu Nikko Station, then take the bus to the last stop at Yumoto Onsen. 
Where to stay The Nikko Kanaya Hotel, open since 1873, is just three minutes' walk from Nikko Station.


Tanzawa Mountain Range (1,673m)

This rugged web of trails in Kanagawa prefecture rises above the tree line, providing a panoramic view of Mt Fuji’s foothills. For a two-day trip, start from Okura and hike 8.9km to the top of Mt Tonodake (1,491m). After an overnight stay, day two features 20km of knee-knocking descents and steep uphill climbs over Mt Tanzawa (1,567m), Mt Hirugatake (the highest point in the Tanzawa mountain range at 1,673m), and Mt Hinokiboramaru (1,601m).
Difficulty level ★★★★
How to get there From Shinjuku Station, take the Odakyu Odawara express to Shibusawa Station, then take the bus to Okura. Return from Nishi-Tanzawa Shizen Kyoshitsu bus stop.
Where to stay There are several mountain huts that offer futon beds and light meals. We recommend Sonbutsu Sanso on Mt Tonodake. For reservations, call 070 2796 5270.

Mt Yake-Dake (2,455m)

This is the North Alps’ most active volcano. From Kamikochi, the three- to four-hour hike starts off moderate until you climb two ladders bolted to the cliff face. From there, you're in alpine country, and are open to encounters with wildlife, including bears. Near the peak, it’s a steep scramble through volcanic rocks, but the summit is one of the best lunch spots in Japan, complete with 300m-wide crater and geothermal vents.
Difficulty level ★★★★
How to get there From Shinjuku Station, take the Chuo line’s limited express Azusa train to Matsumoto Station, then take a taxi to Kamikochi. Note that Kamikochi is closed off during winter – from around November 15.
Where to stay Nishi-Itoya Mountain Lodge in Kamikochi (the mountain hut is temporarily closed until July 14)

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