The best day hikes from Tokyo

Adam Rifi
7 min readMay 20, 2022

Discover hidden nature near Japan’s capital

My love for hiking started in Japan during the pandemic year. With many other forms of entertainment closed, I was looking for a way to spend time while being able to maintain social distancing; hiking. Thankfully, hiking is already a very popular pastime in Japan and therefore, there are many hiking trails around to explore. Here are some of my favorites which can be done as a day trip from Tokyo:

1. Jogasaki Coastline

This was actually my first hike in Japan (besides Mt. Fuji) and it is still one of my favorites. Located in Shizuoka prefecture, this hike takes you along the Jurassic coastline of the Izu Peninsula, providing stunning ocean views, cliffs, and great nature. It is also very beginner-friendly as there is not a lot of elevation gain. Highlights include suspension bridges, a lighthouse/observatory, and even options for swimming if you go in summer.

Stunning cliffs and a waterfall towards the end of Jogasaki Coast hike

How to get there

The best way to reach the hike is to travel to Jogasaki Kaigan station from Atami station and then walk to the beginning of the hike from there (see map below). To get to Atami, you can take the Shinkansen Bullet train or the slower Tōkaidō Line (both covered by the JR pass).

Map of Jogasaki Coast Hike

2. Mt. Takao

I mentioned this mountain in the best places to see Sakura guide, however, Mt. Takao is worth visiting any time of the year. It is the most popular day hike out of Tokyo, with many trails leading to the top. None of them are too challenging, however, so this is also a good option for beginners. If you are looking to add more to the hike, it can also be extended to mountains such as Shiroyama and Mt. Jinba. Highlights are certainly the views from the top overlooking western Tokyo on the one side and the Kanagawa mountain range on the other (sometimes reaching as far as Mt. Fuji).

Views from the top of Mount Takao towards the Kanagawa Mountain Range

How to get there

Access to Mt. Takao is really easy with a direct train running from Shinjuku Station, right to Mt. Takao Station on the Keio Line. Alternatively, you can also use the JR trains on the same route, but you will have to transfer once. From there, it is a short walk to the start of the hiking trail.

3. Mt. Oono

Probably my favorite hike in Kanagawa Prefecture (bordering Tokyo). Mt. Oono provides stunning views out towards Mt. Fuji from a wide-open 360° Panorama plateau. On the way there, passing through the beautiful high yellow grass is also worth the climb. From the top, you can either circle back towards the beginning of the hike (which I would recommend) or continue through the forest down to Lake Tanazawa.

Mount Fuji and yellow winter grass from the top of Mt. Oonoo

How to get there

The hike starts (and ends) at JR Yaga station on the Gotemba Line. To get there from Tokyo, take JR Ueno-Tokyo Line to Kozu Station, transfer to the Gotemba Line, and exit at Yaga Station. From there, clearly marked signs will show you the way to Oonoyama.

4. Mt. Nokogiri

This is one of the most popular day hikes out of Tokyo, in Chiba prefecture. Located right at the Boso peninsula, this mountain provides great ocean views as well as a panorama of Yokohama and even Tokyo and Mt. Fuji on a clear day. The special history of this mountain, it was used as a stone quarry in the past, also gives it some unique rock structures and points of interest. Lastly, one of Japan’s biggest stone Buddha statues is also located on the top of the mountain.

The famous hell view at Mount Nokogiri

How to get there

From Tokyo, take the JR Uchibo Line to Hama-Kanaya Station from where it is around 10 minutes to the beginning of the hike (well-marked). Alternatively, if you live closer to Kanagawa (e.g. Yokohama), you can take a ferry from Kurihama across Tokyo Bay to reach Kanaya.

5. Mt. Odake/Mitake

If you are in shape, then the loop of Mt. Odake and Mt. Mitake is a great way to tackle one of Tokyo’s classic mountains. This is primarily a forest hike, with only a few parts opening up to provide some views. But oh are those views worth it. On top of Mt. Odake, you can see the beautiful Kanagawa mountain range (as well as Mt. Fuji on a clear day) while Mt. Mitake provides some great temples, waterfalls, and views out toward Tokyo. If you want an easier version of this hike, you can skip Mt. Odake and only do Mt. Mitake as a circular loop, stopping along the waterfall and other points of interest. From Mt. Mitake, you can also easily take a ropeway down, as the hike down to the station is lacking any points of interest.

Panoramic views from the top of Mt. Odake

How to get there

To start on the Mt. Odake side, take the JR Ome Line to the final station, Okutama station. From there, exit the station, turn left, and walk until you reach a bridge. Cross it and on the right-hand side, you will see the beginning of the hike with a route map. If you finish on the Mt. Mitake side, from the bottom of the rope way take the bus to Mitake Station, and from there, take the JR Ome Line once again back to Tokyo. If you decide to do the hike in reverse, just reverse the route.

6. Tonodake

Another semi-challenging hike in Kanagawa prefecture. Tonodake is part of the Tanazwa mountain range and provides beautiful panoramic views from the top toward Kanagawa and the ocean. There is also a small hut on top where you can buy some (very overpriced) drinks and snacks. The nice thing about this hike is that it is very open, so you will be mostly hiking with great views on either side. I would recommend starting this hike from Yabitsu-Toge and climbing down to Okura instead of climbing up and down the Okura section, which some people do.

Kanagawa Mountain Range with Mt. Fuji

How to get there

To start the hike from Yabitsu-Toge, take the Odakyu Odawara Line (e.g. from Shinjuku) to Hadano Station. There, transfer to the bus (only leaving at 8:25 AM and 14:25 PM) all the way to Yabitsu Toge. From Okura, you can take a bus back to Shibusawa Station (which is again on the Odakyu line) which runs roughly every 30 minutes.

7. Mt. Ishiwari

Mt. Ishiwari is located on the top of Lake Yamanaka, one of Fuji’s five lakes, in Yamanashi prefecture. As such, there are beautiful views out toward Mt. Fuji from the top. The other main attraction is a shrine around halfway through the hike including a narrow rock craves, which gives the mountain its name (Ishiwari=split rock).

Summer view of Mt. Fuji from Ishiwariyama

How to get there

To get here, you have to take the same connection as to Mt. Oono, except you continue on the Gotemba Line all the way to Gotemba. There, you have to transfer to the bus running to Kawaguchiko (河口湖線) and get off at the stop Yamanakakoasahigaoka station (yes, that’s a mouthful). From there, it is actually already a mini-hike in itself of about 3 km to reach the start of the trail, however, you will be hiking on flat ground nicely along Lake Yamanaka’s shoreline, which is quite pleasant.

8. Mt. Tsukuba

Last but not least, Mt. Tsukuba in Ibaraki prefecture is often regarded as the sister mountain of Mt. Fuji in the West. It is an open standing, single mountain and as such, provides great 360° panoramic views, reaching as far as Tokyo on a clear day. There is a cable car that runs from the bottom of the mountain, but the hike itself only takes around 1–2 hours and is a nice, shaded forest hike. Once you are on the top, there are a couple of hiking routes that you can take that lead you around the mountain to different nature trails and viewpoints.

Open views of the Tsukuba plain from the top of the Mountain

How to get there

Mt. Tsukuba can easily be accessed via the Tsukuba Express train running from multiple places in Tokyo such as Akihabara. Get off at the final stop, Tsukuba, and transfer to the bus going towards Mt. Tsukuba. Get off at the stop Tsukubasan Jinja Iriguchi (Mt. Tsukuba Shrine entrance), from where markers show you the way to the start of the path.

With roughly two-thirds of Japan covered in mountains, there are countless more that didn’t fit on this list. In the near future, I will write a blog post on where to find more hikes in Japan (and other parts of the world), so stay tuned!

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Adam Rifi

Lover of Japan, Travel, Food & Cooking and Frugality. New to blogging but always wanted to try it!