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...
or by chair lift.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
even have souvenirs with his angry red face on them....
....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. This tree is called the Tengu Cedar Tree.
don't mistake it for the Octopus tree, this one is closer to the Monkey Park.
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.
Beer Mount - July 1 - Aug 30
In the Summer you can take a break at the Beer Garden in the Observation Tower.
a good view and all you can eat and drink for ¥3,300 (men) ¥3,000 (women)
Momiji Matsuri - Nov 1 - Nov 30th.
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.
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:
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
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
Price: 660 Yen
Time: 60 minutes
san guchi station 高尾山口駅
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