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Takao-san Monkey Park

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Mount Takao Monkey Park 高尾山 サル園 (Takao-san Saru-en) Takao-san means Mt. Takao but the word for Mountain 山 (yama) had been added as "san" 山 in the suffix (Takao-san).   In fact, it's the exact same pronounciation if you knew a guy with Takao as his last name "Mr. Takao" (Takao-San).   In Japan all living things are believed to have a spirit and they definitely believe something as big and powerful as a mountain has its own spirit, so I like to think of it as a small personification that they choose to refer to mountains in this way.  :-)  Takao-san has a pretty good reputation for providing a quiet, relaxing, nature-filled afternoon for Tokyo-ites fed up with their urban jungle.  Mount Takao has even won 3 stars in Michelin's famed sightseeing guide.  It has a temple, nature walks, waterfalls, its own legendary goblin (tengu) shaped tree, a legendary tree with Octopus (looking) roots,  and a Monkey park.
 
the first choice you have to make is how to get up the mountain.  There are three choices...
 
...by foot....
Takao-san Path

 by cable car ....

Takao-san Cable Car

 

or by chair lift.
Takaosan chair lift

 The cable car and chair lift take you roughly half way up the mountain where you can visit the Monkey Park

 

Check out the short YouTube video below for an idea of what the Monkey Park is like.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPDqTZh-kkM

 

Entrance to the Monkey Park (400 for entry)

Takao-san Saru-en

Just outside the park this little guy welcome's you.

Takao-san Monkey Statue

... and then "meet" some of the 40 Japanese Macaque's that live here.

 

Takao-san Saru-en

 

 

 


 

 even some little babies.

Takao-san Saru-en


 Then a trainer will come out and give a demonstration of the monkey's unique assets.

Takao-san Saru-en
 They can walk on ropes...

Takaosan Saruen

 and hang upside down by their toes...

Takaosan Saruen

 ...and then they get to relax again. :-)

Takaosan Saruen
 


 After watching the monkeys play, you can stop by the souvenir shop and pick one up.
Takaosan Souvenirs


To see short videos of the monkeys and for more information please click the link below:

 

http://www.takaotozan.co.jp/takaotozan_eng1/monkey/index.htm

 

You can choose to go back down the hill, but if you hike a little ways up the mountain you'll find some pretty cool stuff.   

 

To get a better feel of the vibe, check out our 2010 trip to Takao-san in the video below:

 

YAKUOIN TEMPLE - A bit further up the trail is Yakuoin Shinto-Buddhist Temple, built in 744 AD.  In European history the Roman Empire would have just fallen, it would be 50 years before the start of the "Viking Age" and 60 years before Charlemaigne is crowned western Emperor, so he wasn't even born yet.  The crusades wouldn't  happen for another 300 years.  It would be 500 years before Marco Polo would find a route to China.  What we're saying is...this temple is old!  It might be worth it to check it out. 

 

Yakouin Temple

There are a couple of unique features to this ancient temple, one is that there is a men's path to the temple and a women's path.  The men's path is a staircase of 108 steps with each step representing a worldly desire (of which there are 108 apparently).  Take the staircase up and leave those worldly desires behind before you enter the temple.  The women's path is not as arduous, following the belief that women (who when pregnant could miscarry) shouldn't have to walk a difficult road but also that women are pure at heart anyway and don't have those worldly desires to leave behind.  Obviously today, either path is accessible to anyone so dare to be a gender bender or walk in the steps of your predecessors' ancient shoes, the choice is yours.

 

 

Yakuoin Stairs

 

 

The second unique feature of this temple is that it has a smaller house around back that is surrounded by 88 Buddha statues representing 88 temples on Shikoku island.   If you stop, pray and place a coin on each buddha then you've successfully completed the Shikoku pilgrimage that normally would take 6 weeks (and a heck of alot of planning) to complete.  Hey sometimes you just need that fast route to inner peace.

 

Yakuoin Buddhas


 

 At the temple, you'll see representations of the Tengu (guardian spirits) of this particular mountain (and temple).  The most famous Tengu that guards Takao-san is a sort of a goblin with a long phallic nose.  You'll see many statues and masks bearing his ugly mug.

Takaosan Tengu

 They even have souvenirs with his angry red face on them....

Takaosan Souvenirs

....and on your way from the Monkey Park to the temple, they even have proof that he's here in the form of a tree.   Do you see his long nose on the right? and there's his eye too!   This tree is called the Tengu Cedar Tree.

Takaosan Tengu Tree
 

 ...But don't mistake it for the Octopus tree, this one is closer to the Monkey Park.

Octopus Tree

 

 

 This tree has its own legend, hundreds of years ago a woodsman who had worked a long day came upon this monstrous tree that was in his way.   After trying to work around it he decided the only way to continue his work was to cut off its roots, but it was late so he made plans to return the next day and finish the job.  When he arrived the next morning he found the tree had twisted its roots around like an octopus' legs making it impossible to cut down.  So the Octopus tree stands in the same spot to this day.

 

Summer
Beer Mount - July 1 - Aug 30
Takao Summer
 

 In the Summer you can take a break at the Beer Garden in the Observation Tower.

Beer Mount

 You get a good view and all you can eat and drink for 3,300 (men) 3,000 (women)

 
Autumn
Momiji Matsuri - Nov 1 - Nov 30th.

Momiji Matsuri

 

In the Fall you can visit during the Momiji (red maple tree) Matsuri (festival) and visit the festival foodstalls for treats like dango and tako-yaki.

Takaosan Dango


 Roasted dango (mochi balls) is a confection a bit like roasted marshmallows, but not quite as sweet.

For more information please click the link the official Takao-san site below:

http://www.takaotozan.co.jp/takaotozan_eng1/index2.htm

 

Getting There - Takao-san

 

From Shinjuku 新宿

Take the Keio 京王 line to Kitano 北野, from there transfer to the Keio-Takao 京王高尾 line and get off at Takao-san-guchi 高尾山口 station.

Price: 370 Yen

Time: 60 minutes

 

From Nakano 中野

Take the JR Chuo 中央 Rapid / Special Rapid or Commuter Rapid line to Takao 高尾, from there transfer to the Keio-Takao 京王高尾 line and get off at Takao-san-guchi 高尾山口 station.

Price: 660 Yen

Time: 60 minutes

 

Takao-san guchi Station

 

Takao san guchi station 高尾山口駅

 

From Takao-san-guchi 高尾山口 station follow the signs to Takao-san (Mr. Takao) and choose between a half hour walk up Trail 1 or a 5 minute ride up by Chair Lift or Cable Car either is 470 one-way or 900 round trip.

 

For more amusements, please click the link below:

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そうだ 東京行こう!