Few places compare to the natural beauty of Mount Mitake. Located only a short distance from Tokyo, this feature of Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park is among Japan’s most popular tourist destinations. It provides a tranquil, even spiritual respite from the bustle of the nearby city.
Since Mount Mitake is frequently visited by residents of Tokyo, getting there is very straightforward. Additionally, there are numerous lodging and restaurant options around the mountain.
It’s the perfect place to visit for those who appreciate nature and enjoy hiking.
Musashi Mitake Shrine
The most well-known and prominent feature of Mount Mitake is Musashi Mitake Shrine.
The stunning red color of the buildings provides a stark contrast to the surrounding greenery.
And there are numerous smaller, unique shrines to explore on the grounds. Visitors are welcome to stroll among them while enjoying the ornate and traditional architecture.
If you’re lucky, you might even catch Shinto priests leading adherents in chants on the way to a waterfall.
Musashi Mitake Shrine is the perfect place to take a break and unwind while exploring Mount Mitake. The viewing deck lets you take in the beauty of Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park and the nearby Tokyo skyline.
Not to mention there are accommodations and restaurants nearby.
History of Musashi Mitake Shrine
The shrine’s origins are hazy, but it is believed to be as much as 2000 years old. Built as a place for mountain worship, its priests today continue Mount Mitake’s tradition of takigyo.
Takigyo is the Shinto ritual of waterfall meditation. Participants strip down to a loincloth or robe and then stand under icy cold waterfalls to cleanse their spirits.
Oftentimes, the ritual includes chanting and singing as well.
Local priests welcome respectful tourists to participate. So if you have the opportunity, don’t miss out on being a part of this ancient Japanese tradition.
Hiking Mount Mitake
Standing over 2952 feet tall, Mount Mitake provides sweeping vistas of the Kantō Plain and Tokyo’s Skyline. And if you’re willing to make the trek, there are several excellent hiking trails more than worth visiting.
Here are some of the best trails accessible from Mount Mitake village:
Rock Garden Trail: This roughly two-hour-long trail takes you through a serene valley. Along the way, you’ll see beautiful moss-covered stones and unspoiled nature.
At the trail’s end is a waterfall used by priests from Musashi Mitake Shrine for takigyo.
Mount Otake Trail: The trip to the summit of Mount Otake is daunting but worth it. At around 3937 foot elevation, it rivals the beauty of nearby Mount Mitake by providing a clear view of Mount Fuji.
Mount Hinode Trail: Mount Hinode’s name roughly translates to “Sunrise Mountain” thanks to its mesmerizing eastward view. You can reach it via a trailhead near the southeastern slope of Mount Mitake.
Don’t worry if you’re new to hiking and concerned about getting lost—all the routes are well-marked and maintained. You can also find maps in English in shops around Mount Mitake village.
Mount Mitake Village
Part of what makes Mount Mitake so charming is the tiny village atop it.
Here, visitors can lodge overnight and enjoy a cozy stay on the mountain. Most of the small inns also prepare traditional meals for guests in the morning and evening. And after dinner, you can stroll along the terrace and take in the mountain vistas.
Additionally, restaurants and cafes line the main street. And it’s a good idea to stop for a hearty breakfast before exploring the trails.
If you want to buy souvenirs for the road, you can also find some small gift shops. These places generally sell trail maps in English to help tourists find their way around.
If you see deer walking near the streets, don’t be alarmed. The wildlife here is abundant, and deer have overpopulated the area in recent years.
Other Attractions of Mount Mitake
Mount Mitake has several attractions worth seeing besides Musashi Mitake Shrine. Although, you may have to do rigorous hiking to reach some of them.
These are some of the best sights to see around Mount Mitake:
The Observatory: If you want to take in the gorgeous landscapes of Japan, Mount Mitake’s observatory is the place to go. You can see as far as the Bōsō Peninsula 62 miles away on a clear day.
The observatory is located at Mitake Station, making it a convenient stop as well.
Ayashiro Waterfall: This tranquil waterfall holds spiritual significance among the mountain’s Shinto priests, as it is where takigyo ceremonies are typically held. You can find it on the Rock Garden trail loop.
Nagao-daira Platform: The view from Nagao-daira Platform is perfect for photos. There, you get a wide-open panorama of the surrounding mountain range and verdant valley. It’s easily accessed from the nearby Musashi Mitake Shrine.
Fascinating as these sights are, they’re only the beginning.
Mount Mitake is covered in strange rock formations, waterfalls, abandoned temples, and ancient shrines. If you take the time to explore, you’ll no doubt fall in love with the mountain’s mystique and otherworldliness.
Mount Mitake at Night
Mount Mitake has seemingly endless trails to hike during the day. But you might not realize that this tranquil retreat is just as beautiful, if not more, at night.
So if you get the chance, venture to the observatory once it’s dark out.
Doing so will reveal an enchanting view of Tokyo glittering across the vast Kantō Plain. This spot makes for stunning night time photography, assuming you have the right equipment.
Plus, Mount Mitake is possibly the best place to stargaze while around Tokyo region.
The nearby bright city lights usually obscure any nighttime sky views. However, Mount Mitake’s seclusion among the other mountains immensely improves visibility.
When you combine that with the abundant wildlife and serene atmosphere, this hidden retreat truly seems magical. It’s one of the best places to enjoy the peacefulness of nature at night.
Getting to and Around Mount Mitake
Owing to its popularity, getting to Mount Mitake is pretty straightforward. From central Tokyo, it’ll take about 2 hours to get there.
Assuming you’re at Tokyo Station or Shinjuku Station, take the JR Chuo Line towards Ome Station. Some trains go all the way to Ome, but you may need to make a connection at Tachikawa Station.
Once at Ome Station, switch over to the JR Ome Line for Otukama. Make sure to get off at Mitake Station, which takes 15-20 minutes to reach. The trip should total ¥940 (~$8.20) one way.
Next, take the bus at Mitake Station to the Mitake cable car station. The bus costs ¥280 (~$2.50) one way.
Finally, a round trip on the cable car will cost ¥1130 (~$10.00) and will take you near the top of Mount Mitake. Along the way, you’ll get a fantastic view of Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park.
*all prices shown are for adults
Lodging on Mount Mitake
There are several small inns to stay at on Mount Mitake, most of which are Minshuku.
Minshuku are family-run bed-and-breakfasts that are popular in Japan. While they’re generally small, their service is almost always excellent. They’re also a great way to immerse yourself in the culture of Japan while you’re there.
Most rooms here are traditional, featuring tatami mats and tranquil terraces. And to clean off after hiking, you can enjoy soaking in rustic wooden tubs while looking out over the valley.
Shukubo Komadori-Sanso is an especially well-regarded inn that a 17th generation Shinto priest operates. This centuries-old lodge was initially built as a respite for pilgrims. Today, the gorgeous view of the mountainside from the rooms alone makes it worth the stay.
If possible, spending one or two nights on the mountain is better than a day trip. That way, you can appreciate how beautiful Mount Mitake is at night as you unwind.
Best Time to Visit Mount Mitake
Rest assured—there’s no wrong time to visit Mount Mitake.
Culturally rich and fascinating Shinto religious events are held frequently. And while the natural beauty of the mountain changes with the seasons, it never lessens.
As a result, planning your visit comes down to your preferences.
Hiking in the summer gives you a chance to enjoy the mountain in all its mossy and verdant splendor. And taking a dip under the cool waterfalls is much more pleasant when it’s hot out.
Then again, few things compare to the beauty of Mount Mitake in Autumn. During then, the trees on the mountainsides turn into a dazzling sea of reds, oranges, and gold. It all makes for excellent photos to remember your visit with.