Those familiar with the sprawling glass and concrete metropolis of Tokyo might be surprised that there is a mountain with natural forests and hiking trails less than an hour from Shinjuku Station by train. Mt. Takao is known for its diversity of species and its incredible beauty. It is covered by hiking trails, and there are also a cable car and lift for those wanting to enjoy the area with less physical activity. The nighttime view of Tokyo from the top is magical. Keep your eyes open for interesting animals such as the Japanese raccoon and flying squirrel.
Trees vary greatly from oaks to beeches to maples, and the autumn colors are particularly spectacular at their peak in mid to late November. In the branches of the cedar trees you might be lucky enough to see one of the beautiful native orchids in bloom.
The cable car runs to 400 meters (about 1312 feet) half way up Mt. Takao. Beginning at 8 am, it runs every 15 minutes and takes about 6 minutes to the end. The last departure varies from 5:15 to 6 pm depending upon the season, and runs to 9:15 pm during the beer festival in the summer. It costs 480 yen one way for adults or 240 yen for children under junior high school age. The round trip rates are 930 yen for adults and 460 yen for children.
You can reach Mt. Takao by taking the Chuo Line from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo to Takao Station in Hachioki City, then transferring for a 3 minute ride to Takaosanguchi Station. There is also a Keio Line Semi-Special Express that runs directly to Takaosanguchi Station from Shinjuku Station. Both rides take under one hour, excluding transfer times.
The official website is in Japanese, select English on the top and you will have a machine generated translation that gives extensive information about the plants that can be found on each of the hiking trails as well as that about access and special events: http://www.takaotozan.co.jp/