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Mt. Takao, or 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 Takao-san.
There are six well-maintained hiking courses starting from the foot of 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. Takao-san is especially busy during the second half of November, when the mountain's scattered autumn colors cause it to become one of Tokyo's most popular koyo (autumn foliage) spots. Mt. Takao is also a popular hanami (cherry blossom viewing) spot a couple weeks after the cherry blossoms in Tokyo bloom. It is highly advised to visit the Itchodaira area, commonly known as the Takaosan Senbonzakura area (Mt. Takao Thousand Sakura Trees), where there are several types of cherry trees to enjoy. Mountain climbers looking to trek up Mt. Takao should do so during their free day in Tokyo during one of our Cherry Blossom Japan tours in March and April!
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