Mt Takao New Year’s Sunrise
To celebrate New Years in Japan, dance parties are uncommon and fireworks are almost non-existent. It’s a lot of stay-at-home eating traditional foods and drinking, and shrine visiting.
Another popular outdoor activity though, is to hike up a mountain and watch the first sunrise of the new year. One of the popular mountains to do that from near Tokyo is Mt Takao.
I did this once to welcome the New Year. It was just after midnight, January 1st, 2018.
HOW TO GET THERE
The station that most get their start at is Takaosanguchi [MAP] which is on the end of the Keio line. There are 2 ways up the mountain, hike it or catch a tram. A short walk from Takaosanguchi station is Kiyotaki station [MAP] where you can catch the tram up to Takaosan station up Mt Takao.
We took the tram. Even after getting off at Takaosan station, there’s still waking to do before getting to a point with a view of the sunrise.
Along the way, there’s Yaukuou-in shrine [MAP] to stop at either to pray or buy souvenirs and snacks from.
Despite getting to the viewing area around 2:30 AM or so, the place was packed with Japanese and foreigners alike. Everyone has a tiny space to sit and wait in until the sunrise which happens just before 7AM. It’s quite a long time to sit in one place and wait in the cold, so make sure you bundle up. Well. I was freezing.
After the sun’s up, people begin making their way down the mountain. There’s a trail that leads down to the two modes of transport. The tram from Takaosan station is one of them. The other is catching chairlifts from Mt Takao Echo Lift Sancho station [MAP] which is just a little bit further. We took the latter because it seemed faster and basically just more fun.
The chairlift brings you next to the Kiyotaki tram station, and from there you can walk to Takaosanguchi station and catch the Keio line back into Tokyo.
It was the first time for me to something like this for New Year’s as I typically go to a party with friends. And while it won’t become a normal thing for me, it was a good experience watching the January 1st sun break over the horizon.