Still located within metropolitan Tokyo, the densely wooded Mount Takao (高尾山, Takaosan) is one of the closest natural recreation areas to central Tokyo, offering beautiful scenery, an interesting temple and attractive hiking opportunities. It takes only 50 minutes and 370 yen to reach from Shinjuku.
A network of numbered and well marked hiking trails, ranging from the broad and paved hiking trail number 1 to narrow nature trails, lead up the slopes and through the valleys of Takaosan. The peak is 599 meters over sea level and offers views of Tokyo, Mount Fuji and as far as Yokohama on clear days. There is a cablecar and chair lift leading halfway up the mountain. From there, the ascent to the summit takes about 45 minutes. Hiking the mountain from its base doubles the walking time.
Considered a sacred mountain, Takaosan has been a center of mountain worship for more than 1000 years. The attractive temple Yakuoin stands near the mountain's top. Visitors pray there to Shinto-Buddhist mountain gods (tengu) for good fortune. Statues of the gods, one with a long nose and one with a crow beak, can be found at the temple and all over the mountain.
Due to its proximity to central Tokyo, Takaosan can get very crowded on weekends and during the second half of November, when the mountain becomes one of Tokyo's most popular koyo (autumn foliage) spots. Consequently, if you are looking for a break not only from the concrete but also the crowds of Tokyo, you are well advised to visit Takaosan during the week.
Keio Railways offer the cheapest and fastest connections to Takaosan. Direct semi-limited express trains, which take about 50 minutes and 370 yen, leave the underground Keio Shinjuku station every 20 minutes. Takaosanguchi Station, the train's terminal station, is located at the foot of the mountain.
The JR alternative is by Chuo Line from Shinjuku to Takao Station (540 yen, about 50 minutes), where you transfer to the Keio Line and ride one more station to Takaosanguchi Station (120 yen, 2 minutes).
information source: japan-guide.com