250 minutes 28 miles away MOUNT TAKAO
Taking the Keio-Takao Line Special Express train from Shinjuku Station to its last stop, Takaosanguchi Station, is appealing for two reasons: the promise of a country hike up Mount Takao, and the delicious meal afterwards at Ukai Toriyama (ukai.co.jp/english/toriyama), a collection of private tea houses looking onto a dappled water garden. Takao-san, as this mountain is called, is often crowded in the spring and autumn, but Route Six (turn right out of the station and follow the stream past the noodle restaurants for about 100 metres – 330 feet – to reach the trails) feels wild and beautiful. The narrow path winds up the mountain through mossy cypress woods filled with wild orchids, hydrangeas and maples, following a stream, past Shinto grottos and waterfalls, before climbing steeply. While the summit, 599 metres above sea level, has the air of a tourist site with its busy soba-noodle stalls, the mountain view, which includes snow-capped Mount Fuji, is worth it. Descending via the paved Route One leads past Yakuo-in, a Buddhist temple, and myriad statues of Tengu, the winged, Pinocchio-nosed deity of the mountains. It takes another hour to reach the station to catch the courtesy bus, which leaves every 20 minutes, to Ukai Toriyama. Notable dishes include river-carp sashimi, and grilled Satsuma Jidori chicken or Hida beef cooked over a small charcoal brazier.