Hacktreks in Tokyo
The Great Outdoors in Tokyo:
Tony & Yoko Kennedy
we havent gone crazy, it is possible to enjoy "The Great
Outdoors" within Tokyo. Some great places exist within Tokyo where
everyone can enjoy the outdoors and escape from the bustling monstrous
city. Escaping the bustling monstrous city at least once a month is
a mandatory requirement if you wish to keep your sanity, especially
if you come from a less populated country. Presented is a recommendable
escape, that can be a one day trip but also easily makes a two day escape.
Our recommendation for an escape to "The Great Outdoors" is
to make it an overnight one.
Let's escape to the outer limits of the Tokyo metropolitan near the
boundary of Yamanashi prefecture, Saitama prefecture, and the Tokyo
metropolitan area. Okutama (http://www.town.okutama.tokyo.jp/english/
) is situated within a mountainous area, the Chichibu-Tama National
Park, as is about two-thirds of Japan, with some beautiful forested
mountains and wide stone-lined rivers running through the valleys. It
is a popular place for hikers, campers, fisherpersons, and photographers.
Okutama is a moderate train trip away to the northwest of Shinjuku on
the Chuo-line. I say moderate because it is about a two hour trip, but
this is the average commuting time for one working in Tokyo. This is
my favourite area of Tokyo. The train will deliver you to the tranquil
area of Okutama, which unbelievably is within the Tokyo metropolitan
Okutama area is good to visit in any season as it provides some
great views of cherry blossoms in natural settings during spring,
good swimming places for summer, beautifully coloured leaves in
autumn, and even snow in winter. There are many excellent hiking
places within the Okutama area, including my favourite area to escape
from the summer sauna like conditions that plague the Tokyo region
for about four months. For those who venture into the mountains
there also is a fantastic Onsen, hot spring, to relieve sore muscles
and to further unwind.
you are like us and enjoy some good scenery while you are outdoors then
you will really like this hike. On this hike we are bound for the area
known as Mitsukama-no-taki, which literally means a waterfall of three
large pots, which is pretty apt as there are three sizable waterholes
at different elevations. This waterfall is always flowing, apart from
during really cold winters when it is likely to freeze over. During
spring it is possible to see Wasabi, Japanese green radish, growing
in the tributaries of the stream supplying the waterfalls. This is only
one of three waterfalls that can be seen along the hike.
Wasabi, the green spicy condiment that is usually served with sashimi
or sushi requires clean flowing water to grow in. Usually it is found
growing in shallow streams that have a gravely bed.
From: The Okutama Town webpage, http://www.town.okutama.tokyo.jp/english/index.html
The hiking course can be a little obscure so I recommend purchasing
the Zenrin number 16 hiking map, which covers the Okutama
Daibosatsu area. The map can be purchased from any bookshop, however
English versions may be difficult to find. Simplified directions are
to get off the train at Hatonosu station, and take the hiking track
near the stations exit. Head along the track in the same direction
as the train was going. Follow this track south for about two hours
where you will find a path going to the waterfalls. You will come to
the first waterfall, Mitsukama-no-taki, which is a great place for swimming
during the summer. Actually I have been swimming there during autumn
and spring, which although refreshing and invigorating was a little
too cool for enjoyment. After the swim, continue in the same direction
and next you will come to Nejiru-no-taki, which is a really great place
to have lunch. This waterfall is a 30 metre high rock face where the
water flows down and at the base is a large pool. This is surrounded
by tall trees and the ground is mostly lined with pebbles. If you are
as daring as I this also is a great place to swim.
After lunch continue onto the third and last waterfall, O-taki, or literally
big waterfall. Although it is possible to swim here, and we have, we
would not recommend it as the water here is cold, freezing cold, even
during summer. The waterfall is within a large cave where fish are sometimes
seen to jump out of the water.
The track leading to the waterfalls is a circular one so we will come
back to the area where we started, however we arent going to return
along the same track, as there are better things around the corner.
At the fork take the track to the left, following a small re-entrant,
and after three-quarters of an hour a larger river can be seen, follow
the river to the left. Near here it is possible to smell the sulphurous
perfume that is associated with Onsens, or volcanically heated baths.
Moengi-no-onsen is a place we highly recommend as the staff is extremely
friendly and helpful. From the onsen head in the same direction as before
and in about 15 minutes you will come to Okutama station. Just before
the station, near the Police station, is a general store, which proves
an excellent place to obtain refreshments for the return journey.
From: Tokyo Tourism Webstation,
If you have not already decided to make this a one day escape or a longer
one then now is the time to do so, as there are two Youth Hostels run
by JYH, http://www.jyh.or.jp/english/index.html,
however they are in opposite directions. One further to the west is
the Hinohara Youth Hostel, and the other along the Chuo-line towards
Tokyo is the Mitake Youth Hostel. As we have not stayed in the Hinohara
Youth Hostel our recommendation is Mitake. It is only a twenty minute
train trip from Okutama to Mitake station. From Mitake station the easiest
way to the youth is via the cable car, however it Is possible to walk
but be warned the climb is extremely steep, especially after a days
hiking. We also advise you to get there before it gets dark as at night
it is difficult to find the youth hostel. The youth hostel is well appointed,
in a Japanese style, and the meals are good. There are many interesting
things to see on and around Mt Mitake, including a large shrine where
a beautiful garden exists. One recommendation to visit is the Ozawa
Shuzo Sake Brewery, make an appointment before visiting, often tastings
and a tour of the premises are available.
To return to Tokyo, go back to Mitake station, catch the train and enjoy
the views for the next hour or so before returning to the great metropolis
of Tokyo. We are sure that you will find this a trip to remember. Our
next escape to the Great Outdoors will be in the Tohoku region to the
north of Tokyo.
© Tony & Yoko Kennedy
3-8-62 Takamatsu; Morioka City; Iwate; 020-0114;
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