Sacred mountain that represents the Tama area is packed full of things to do - a museum, zoo and botanical garden and hiking and more.
Mt. Takao-san, located west of Tokyo and at the eastern edge of the Kanto Mountains, is a sacred mountain that represents the Tama area. The area is designated as Meiji-no-mori Takao Quasi-National Park. Emperor Shomu ordered Yakuo-in Temple to be built halfway up this mountain in 744, and people have worshiped at the temple for more than 1,200 years. It was introduced in the Michelin Green Guides for Travel and Tourism as a place that is relatively close to the center of Tokyo where you can meet the "real Japan," and it is quite popular among foreign tourists.
At the mountain is a statue of a 'tengu,' a long-nosed mythical figure. Tengu is believed to be a deified image of a man who mastered the rigorous ascetic disciplinary customs associated with an ancient Japanese practice of mountain worship to acquire magical and spiritual powers. This statue is now a symbol of Mt. Takao-san. Between April and October, you may at times see ascetic devotees participating in a religious practice that includes standing beneath the cascading waters of the Biwa-daki or Hebi-daki Falls.
There are six well-maintained hiking courses starting from the foot of Mt. Takao-san and leading up to the 600-meter-high mountaintop, each with a different theme, allowing visitors to learn about the nature of Takao. You can enjoy viewing over 500 different kinds of plants along these paths. You can also ride halfway up the mountain by cable car or lift, so that the remaining climb to the top is not so difficult. Near the cable car terminal is the Takao-san Natural Zoo and Botanical Garden, where you will be greeted by monkeys that range freely throughout the area.
[Rail] 2h from Narita Airport to Takao Station by JR Narita Express Line.
[Air] 1h from Itami or 1h 10 min from Kansai International Airport to Haneda Airport.
[Rail] 2h 30 min from Shin-Osaka to Tokyo Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line (Nozomi). 1h from Tokyo to Takao Station by JR Chuo Line, and 5 min from Takao to Takao-san-guchi Station by Keio Line.