I really enjoy living near Tokyo because there is always something interesting to see or do, but sometimes it can be a bit chaotic and overwhelming with the constant hustle and bustle. As much I love spending the day in the city, my soul really belongs in nature. I recently took a trip to Mount Takao and it was an amazing place that I think everyone should visit!
Mount Takao is conveniently located about an hour outside of Tokyo (in the Hachioji region) and can be accessed by train or car. Depending on where you are coming from, both could be viable options. I carpooled with a few friends and we split the toll/parking fees as well as found parking pretty easily. There are a several parking lots surrounding the park and fees vary, but start at 1000 yen. Get there early and shoot for a weekday as this is a very popular hiking destination and can get crowded quickly! So here are a few highlights from my trip that I think you will like – even if you don’t like nature. 😉
- You can shop and eat! Once you arrive at the park and before you set off on your hike, check out the little shops along the main path. You can stock up on snacks for your hike or you can have a meal at a restaurant. And even if you aren’t hungry, it’s still fun to look at all of the unique foods and trinkets.
- There are cable car/chair lift options! Don’t feel like making the 2 hour trek up the mountain? No problem. Mount Takao offers a cable car and a chair lift option for your viewing convenience! Both will take you halfway up the mountain and both cost about 980 yen for round trip. We took the chair lift (the line is much shorter for the chair lift) and it was an awesome ride! You get to be closer to nature and enjoy the quiet sounds of the nature as you sit back on your ride. One thing I will mention is that there are no safety bars on the chair lift, so hold on tight to your kids, dog, backpack, etc. Also remember to smile – there will be a photographer sitting amongst the trees who will take a souvenir photo for you! You can purchase your photo for about 800 yen. But hold on to it! You will have your photo taken again on the way down and you can trade in your photo if you decide you like the other one better!
- Different paths! There are a few different paths you can take up to the summit so take a look at the map and determine your route before your adventure. But the other cool part is that you can also take a completely different path down to the bottom too! Which means double the scenery! Yay! There is also a monkey park that is pretty popular, however we didn’t have time to check it out so it will be on my list for the next visit!
- Temple (Architecture)! Along with the nature views, you can also check out the Yakuoin Temple and admire the architecture during your trip. Temples and shrines all have their own unique designs and details so even if you’ve seen 20 temples you will always find something new to appreciate at the next one. Mount Takao is very sacred to the locals so you may see some religious and cultural practices taking place throughout your hike, but especially around the temple area.
- View from atop (with beer)! Once you disembark from the cable car/chair lift it takes about 45 minutes to reach the summit of Mount Takao. Some paths are a little harder than others but I saw plenty of children, elderly, and people with dogs out on the trails. One of the paths is paved (but with some steps along the way), so even someone with a wheelchair or stroller could enjoy part of the hike. At the top you will find lots of places to sit and enjoy the view! On a clear day you can even see Mount Fuji! And bonus: there’s beer! Yes, that’s right – there is also a café and convenient store at the top that sells food, ice cream, mochi, coffee, and beer!
- Dango! You will see many treat options around Mount Takao, but the most popular choice is Dango. It’s a dumpling on a stick that has a sweet/salty or soy flavor. It will only cost you a few hundred yen and it’s basically the Mt. Takao thing to do. 🙂
So what did I love most about my Mount Takao experience??
- The amazing views! My hike took place around early November so I really enjoyed viewing the fall foliage and crisp air. Whether I was waiting in line or taking a break along the hike, there was always something beautiful and interesting to look at. The people we encountered along the way were also very friendly and polite and it was great to see so many people out enjoying nature.
Visiting Mount Takao was an amazing spiritual experience and I can’t wait to go back! Each season offers a unique perspective of scenery so no two hikes are the same. I also love that this park is great for people of all ages and abilities! It was fun to do with a group, but it would also be fulfilling to do it solo as well. I guarantee that you will leave here refreshed, restored, and your soul will be filled with joy and gratitude! Please visit if you get the chance! You won’t regret it! 🙂
“The mountains are calling and I must go.” ~John Muir
In case you weren’t aware, there is a museum in Yokohama, Japan all about CupNoodles. Yes, like the 25 cent instant noodles you heat up in the microwave. Those noodles. Whole museum.
So you might be thinking, “What could I possible do at a CupNoodles museum? What on earth would I learn?!” Well, I’m here to tell you why you should visit this museum during your next trip to Japan!
- There’s a park inside! Much like many shopping centers and museums in Japan, there is a place for the kiddos to play. It’s a giant area that’s made to look like the noodle manufacturing warehouse. There are slides and climbing and some interactive activities. It’s 300 yen for 30 minutes of play time and kids have to be at least 3 years old to enter. You will have to either book your time slot online or as soon as you get there. They also have lockers to store your items (the instructions to use them are entirely in Japanese) and no photos are allowed inside this particular area (although I saw someone with a legit camcorder) so keep that in mind!
- Make your own Noodles! Head over to the factory to make your very own CupNoodles! At first, it looks like an overwhelming cluster of people, but Japan is a very methodical place and there is a system for everything. 🙂
First, you pay 300 yen for your cup and then you are assigned a table to color your cup. And don’t forget to snag your hat SWAG from the Noodles Park!
Once you’re done coloring, you can go get your cup filled with noodles and pick your toppings!
Then you take your cup over to be sealed and shrink-wrapped!
Then put your creation in a special bag, fill it with air, and tie some string around it for transportation purposes. Like I said, there is a system for everything!
- Walls of Noodles! There is whole room within the museum where packages and cups of noodles line the walls. You can see how the noodles and packaging have changed throughout the years. It’s surprisingly displayed in a beautiful and artsy way!
- See a movie! Stop by the theater to watch an animated movie discussing the history of Momofuku Ando (the CupNoodles creator). The movie is in Japanese, but you will be given a headset that translates the audio into English. The movie is actually very interesting, so I would not skip this exhibit!
- Momofuku’s Shed! – After the movie head out the back door to tour a replica of Momofuku’s very own work shed. This is where Chicken Ramen, which is the first instant ramen, was created. You won’t believe how small it is!
- Interactive Art! – Along some of the walls, there is interactive art that further explains Momofuku Ando’s actions and thoughts behind his inventions. This is also great for the kids!
More fun quotes and art! “Rather than a lone cedar, it is better to nurture a whole forest. No one has a monopoly on ideas.” ~Momofuku Ando
- Eat Noodles and Shop! After roaming through the art exhibits, you can head up to the Noodles Bazaar and sample noodles from the around the world. Then, you can check out the museum shop or more photo props on your way out!
- Get Inspired! My favorite thing about the CupNoodles Museum was the inspiration! Momofuku Ando was all about thinking outside the box and sharing ideas with others rather than keeping everything to himself. He was also very determined and persistent even during rough times. Coming into this museum, I thought I was just gonna learn about the history of instant noodles, but I left totally inspired and with a different perspective on life! I definitely recommend checking it out!
- Parking – There is a small parking garage under the museum, but it’s a little pricey so the train may be a better choice.
- Hours/Admission – 10:00-18:00 and 500 yen per person. Check the website for special closings.
- Location – The museum is located in Yokohama – close to other tourist attractions like the Landmark Tower and Cosmo World. You could spend a couple of hours here and then easily hit up some other Yokohoma hot spots!
So next time you are in Yokohama, check out the CupNoodles Museum and score some knowledge and inspiration!
In case you didn’t know there is a magical place tucked in the little town of Tama – located within Tokyo, Japan. It’s where a special lady lives with all of her best friends! Her name? Hello Kitty! And yes she is a lady and not a cat. Make sure you tell your friends that, I get the feeling she doesn’t like being referred to as a cat. 😉 She lives in a castle called “Sanrio Puroland” although many people refer to it as “Hello Kitty Land”.
You might be familiar with Sanrio, they have locations all over the world and you can’t miss them – they are small, but colorful and bright stores. They sell lots of stationary, school supplies, and accessories as well as stuffed animals and apparel. We took our kids here during Thanksgiving week to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and I was pretty excited to go as well since I loved going to the Sanrio store when I was a kid. So here are a few things I learned about our adventure!
- Take the train. It’s a fairly easy train ride and the park is only a 5 minute walk from the Tama train station. You even get to walk down Hello Kitty Street. 🙂
- Buy your tickets beforehand. I got our tickets on GoVoyagin – it’s like the Groupon of Japan. We ended up paying $19.50 for each adult and my daughter. Kids under 3 were free. You don’t even have to print anything, you can just show the barcodes right on your phone. If you plan to go frequently or want to purchase a Puropass (like a FastPass), then you may want to get your tickets from the park’s website. Keep in mind, the price increases for weekend and holiday visits.
- It’s indoors. One thing that might really surprise you is that the entire theme park is indoors! I think this is pretty awesome since the weather conditions aren’t always great here in Japan. You don’t have to worry about your kids being too hot or too cold and you can leave the ponchos at home. 🙂
- It’s kind of small. Since the entire park is inside, you can imagine that this place isn’t all that big. It’s four stories high but doesn’t really have a huge circumference and there’s an escalator and elevator. But the steps are kind of built into the enchantment of the place so my kids loved going up and down the stairs. They do have a large stroller parking area and locker rentals so you don’t have to lug around your bags and coats.
- The details are amazing! No Hello Kitty detail was left behind here. You will see prints of Hello Kitty and her friends all over this place – down to the wallpaper and the vending machines!
- Even the food is themed! There are a few cafes/restaurants located throughout the park. They serve all types of Japanese cuisine as well as French fries, pastries, and ice cream. But you will see that Hello Kitty has made her mark on the food (and snacks), too!
- There are rides. Even though everything is indoors, there are a couple of rides within the park. One is a boat ride that takes you through a land of mechanical characters and the other is a little car ride where you take photos in different themed rooms. We had to wait about 25 minutes for each of these, but the PuroPass will get you in faster in case you’re in a time crunch.
- There’s an arcade. If you need a break from the rides or want to play some games, there’s a spot for that. The park has an arcade area with a small carousel and little 100 yen arcade style rides.
- There are plenty of opportunities for character meet-and-greets. If your little ones aren’t afraid of giant and crazy costumes, then they will love the characters at Hello Kitty Land!
- Catch the parade. There are a few shows that happen throughout the day. You’ll want to pick up a show guide at the front, but make sure to watch the parade! They will start roping off areas (just like they do at Disney) long before the start of the parade, so make sure you grab your seat early. They also sell light up wands for 1500 yen and your kids WILL want one so they can interact with the performance. Since we were there the day after Thanksgiving, the show was Christmas themed and it was a mix of Japanese and English songs.
- She’s worth the wait. You will have the opportunity to meet Hello Kitty herself! She has her own wing of the castle and it’s extra magical! We waited about 30 minutes, but I did see the wait times increase at times. You can also skip the line with the PuroPass. Once it’s your turn, you are ushered into her special house. There are lots of photo props and interactive areas – and it’s beautiful! Then you wait in another short line to actually meet her. You have the option to purchase a rose for 500 yen to give her during your meeting. In exchange she will give you a gift as well. We didn’t purchase this option so I’m not sure exactly what the gift was although it appeared to be a small notebook of some sort. Also, this was the only spot where personal photography was not allowed. We bought our Hello Kitty photo with the frame for 1600 yen.
- There’s SWAG! If you are celebrating a special occasion, head to the Information Desk when you first enter the park. They will give you a card that you wear around your neck with your name and celebration date. Then when you walk around, everyone will give you a sticker for your card and in our case, wish my daughter a Happy Birthday. It really made her day extra special! They even gave one to my son so he wouldn’t feel left out. Instead of ‘Happy Birthday’, his occasion was ‘First Visit’.
- Everyone is super friendly! Okay, maybe this isn’t surprising since it is Japan and all. But everyone was very friendly – not just the employees, but the people in the park too. It’s a pretty crowded and busy place, but anytime my son had a meltdown or fell (he falls a lot) – someone would stop and check on him. Also, everyone that worked there spoke enough English to communicate basic instructions which made things a lot easier.
Overall, we really enjoyed our day at Hello Kitty Land! If you plan to go, check the park schedule because it does close fairly early so you’ll want to give yourself enough time to explore everything. And if you don’t have kids, don’t let that stop you from visiting this little gem. We saw a lot of couples there without children and they looked even more excited than the kids we encountered. 🙂
Have you been to Sanrio Puroland? What did you think? Would you go if you had the chance?
I’m off to review the next event!