fbpx Yama no Hi: Hiking The Mountains of Tokyo

Yama no Hi (山の日), or Mountain Day, is a Japanese national holiday that occurs on August 11th. Mountain Day was added to the calendar in 2016 as a way to give a break to many of Japan’s overworked citizens. It was purposefully established during the hiking season for Mt Fuji, which is typically July through August.

Although a large portion of the population doesn’t necessarily use the day to go hiking, it’s still a good excuse to explore the natural beauty of Japan. An astounding 73% of Japan’s terrain is mountainous, and you can access a handful of these popular attractions fairly easily from Tokyo.

In Japan, mountains are given the suffix -san. So Mt. Fuji is referred to as Fuji-san.

Mt. Fuji

Height: 3,776 meters (~12,390 feet)

Fuji-san gets an honorable mention as it is the most well-known and tallest mountain in Japan. It is a bit far from Tokyo, so it’s not the easiest mountain to get to on this list if you live in Japan’s capital city.

A hike up Fuji-san requires a lot of planning and is a potential overnight trip (be sure to bring some winter clothes, even in the height of summer!). There are multiple stations and huts along the trail to stay the night or take a short rest and get some food into your system. On a clear day, Mt. Fuji can be seen from observation decks around Tokyo and in many surrounding areas of the country.

Mt. Takao

Height: 599 meters (~1965 feet)

Takao-san is the closest mountain to Tokyo with a mere 50-minute train ride from Shinjuku Station. Considered a sacred mountain since the Edo Period (1603 – 1868), Mt. Takao is known as a site of worship.

At the base, you can find an onsen, or hot spring, and a nature museum with free admission. A cable car and chairlift can take you to the summit, but there are also hiking trails from the base. On the summit, there are more hiking trails, as well as a monkey park, the Yakuoin temple, and multiple restaurants. Due to its proximity to Tokyo, Mt Takao is also a popular site in the fall for koyo, or autumn leaves, and in the spring during hanami, cherry blossom season.

Mt. Mitake

Height: 929 meters (~3,048 feet)

Mitake-san is roughly two hours from Shinjuku Station. Atop the mountain is the Musashi Mitake shrine, which has been around since the 10th century. A cable car runs from Mitake Station at the base to the summit. From there, it’s about a 20 – 30 minute walk to the shrine.

There are extensive hiking trails that lead to the Rock Garden, a beauteous clashing of nature on the backside of Mt. Mitake, as well as trails to waterfalls and other mountains in the area. These include Mt. Otake, Mt. Nabewari, and Mt. Okunoin. You can even bring your pets on the cable cars, but there are strict guidelines regarding pet etiquette, so read up before bringing your furball with you.

View this post on Instagram

#mitakesanhiking #mtmitake

A post shared by KeisukeWatabe (@kei_sure) on

Mt. Mito

Height: 1,531 meters (~5,023 feet)

Mito-san is one of three peaks surrounding Okutama Lake. It lies about two and a half hours from Shinjuku Station. Kid-friendly and suitable for beginners, Mt. Mito is resplendent with waterfalls and buna, Japanese beech trees. However, unlike the other mountains, there is no cable car to the summit.

Other than nature, the only attraction is a souvenir shop at the base, which is the only place to buy food before ascending. You can also rent hiking boots at the souvenir shop before setting out. Before the Edo Period, it was forbidden to the enter the mountain, and much of its flora and fauna remain untouched. It is recommended to have a picnic on the summit and enjoy an unhindered view of Mt Fuji.

View this post on Instagram

2017/6/3 奥多摩 小河内神社〜三頭山〜数馬仲の平 梅雨入り前の晴れた土曜日だけあって、鴨沢西行きのバスに1回で乗り切れなかった人たちで奥多摩駅前は大混雑😱 臨時便にようやく乗り込んで小河内神社で降り、予定より30分遅れで登山口に到着。浮き橋の写真を撮ろうと一眼レフを構えた時、SDカードを入れ忘れたことに気づき大きく凹む😱😱 . . なんとか気を取り直しiPhoneで撮影して、ようやく出発💨 なので、この山行の写真はこれだけ😆 ヌカザス尾根は中々の急登でした。 #奥多摩 #小河内神社 #奥多摩湖 #三頭山 #ヌカザス尾根 #浮橋 . . When I looked through the view finder, I realized that I had forgotten to insert a SD card into my DSLR camera. Then the camera became just a heavy useless black box during this hike. I had to pull myself together and then headed to Mt. Mitou. #okutama #mtmitou #mitousan

A post shared by murav10 (@murav10) on

Mt. Tsukuba

Height: 377 meters (~1,237 feet)

Tsukuba-san, a double-peaked mountain that offers a panoramic view of the Kanto plain, is the bitter rival to Mt. Fuji. Although less popular, Mt. Tsukuba is considered more lush, serene, and easier to climb. There are multiple trails to the top of the mountain, including a rope trail. And, there is also a cable car that runs to the summit.

At the top, a natural rock formation that resembles a frog with an open mouth can be seen. According to superstition, tossing a stone into the mouth will grant you some luck. Also, for all you geology buffs, unlike most of Japan’s other mountains, which were created from volcanic material, Mt. Tsukuba is made of granite and gabbro. Nerd out, rock lovers.

Mt. Mitsutoge

Height: 1,764 meters (~5,787 feet)

Mitsutoge-san lies about two hours from Shinjuku Station. It doesn’t have a cable car to the summit, but it’s not difficult to hike from the base to the top. There are a few eateries along the way and huts at the top to stay the night, if you are so inclined.

At the top, a 360-degree view of Mt. Fuji and the Southern Alps greets you, although large antennas have obscured a portion of the view. You will know you are close to the top when you spot a group of 88 small Buddha statues wearing red capes. They also mark a popular rock climbing spot.

Regardless of whether you make it to a hiking trail on Yama no Hi, these mountains are enjoyable during any time of year. However, avoid Mt. Fuji outside of the recommended hiking season; it’s quite dangerous otherwise. But if you’re looking for a hiking trip, consider one of these locations next time you’re planning your day.


Please keep the comments BJ Friendly. We delete comments that don't contribute to the discussion.