Best day and weekend hikes in and around Tokyo

Looking to escape the concrete jungle and into a lush green one? Go trekking through these mountain trails. By Nick Narigon

By Time Out Tokyo Editors |
Okutama Valley
© 3x/PixtaOkutama Valley
Mt Kitadake
Photo: Nicholas Courtney/Dreamstime
Mt Oku-Shirane
Photo: Hiro1775/Dreamstime

When you've spent some time in Tokyo, it’s easy to forget that 70 percent of Japan is made of mountains. So if you're a nature lover, there are lots of hilly treks and jungle trails to explore, aside from everyone's bucket list, Mt Fuji.

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 to conquer, we've given each mountain trail a star rating out of five for difficulty level, plus information on how to get to the starting point. Tip: the prime season for hiking is autumn, when the temperatures are cooler, air is dryer, and the foliage is a work of art and the views are pristine. (Psst... Read about this year's autumn leaves forecast here.)

RECOMMENDED: More day trips from Tokyo

Easy day hikes

Photo by Nick Narigon

Mt Jinba (855m)

Mt Takao (599m) has multiple courses suitable for all ages and fitness levels. But you knew that already – Takao is the most heavily trafficked mountain in the world, with attracts about 2.6 million visitors annually. For a different route, head down the road to Mt Jinba, famed for the somewhat phallic white statue (it’s meant to be a horse) at the 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 Otake | Time Out Tokyo
Photo by Nick Narigon

Mt Otake (1,266.5m)

The Musashi-Mitake Shrine at the summit of Mt Mitake (929m) has been a centre of worship for over 2,000 years. It is also the starting point for the hike to Mt Otake (sometimes spelt 'Odake'), the highest mountain in Tokyo prefecture. From the shrine, it’s a two- to three-hour semi-strenuous trek through the natural rock landscape, a stretch of moss-covered rocks, and past Ayahiro Falls. The summit isn’t astounding, but does offer the obligatory view of 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.

Okutama Valley | Time Out Tokyo
© 3x/Pixta

Mt Kawanori (1,363m)

Overlooking the picturesque river valley of Okutama, Mt Kawanori’s main attraction is the scenic Hyakuhiro Falls. In summer this hike is somewhat pedestrian, but autumn and winter provide 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 will take 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 Tsukuba | Time Out Tokyo
Photo by Nick Narigon

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.

Mt Mitsutoge | Time Out Tokyo
Photo by Nick Narigon

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 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

Lake Chuzenji and Mt Nikko-Shirane in autumn
Photo: Hiro1775/Dreamstime

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 peek 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 Nikko Kanaya Hotel. 1300 Kamihatsuishi-machi, Nikko, Tochigi. 0288 54 0001.

Mt Aka-Dake | Time Out Tokyo
Photo by Shinji/Pixta

Mt Aka-Dake (2,899m)

The highest peak in the South Alps’ Yatsugatake (‘Eight Peaks’) region. Starting from Minotoguchi, it takes about three hours to reach Akadake Kosen Lodge. The next day is a two-and-a-half-hour stretch to the summit, which offers views of Mt Fuji and the Southern, Central and Northern Alps. Experienced hikers can complete this trip in winter with an ice axe and crampons.
Difficulty level ★★★
How to get there From Shinjuku Station, take the Chuo line’s Azusa limited express train to Chino Station, then take a local bus to the last stop at Minotoguchi. More info
Where to stay Akadake Kosen Lodge. For reservations, call 090 4824 9986 or fill out the online form (Japanese only).

Tanzawa Mountain Range | Time Out Tokyo
Photo by Nick Narigon

Tanzawa Mountain Range (1,673m)

This rugged web of trails in Kanagawa prefecture rises above the tree line, providing a panoramic view of 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), 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 | Time Out Tokyo
Photo by Bjorn Houtman

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 are in alpine country, and are open to wildlife encounters 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 Nov 15.
Where to stay Nishi-Itoya Mountain Lodge in Kamikochi

Photo: Nicholas Courtney/Dreamstime

Mt Kita-Dake (3,193m)

Japan’s second highest mountain, Kita-Dake is part of the Southern Alps mountain range and is comparable to climbing 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 seven kilometer hike ends five to six hours later at the Katanokoya lodge where there’s also a campground. On day two it is 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. To stay overnight before or after your hike, check out Kofu Fujiya Hotel.

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Photo: Blanscape/Dreamstime

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