Tokyo is Japan’s biggest city, and everyone always imagines it as a huge Utopia full of overdressed Lolita youth and talking robots. While that’s partially true, Tokyo is also known for its leisure hikes. Just a two-hour train ride away, a hike through Tokyo is the perfect means to clear your head- Okutama. Located in the western part of Tokyo it’s endowed with stunning nature and a luscious landscape that feels fresh out of a Ghibli movie.
As I’ve been keeping myself busy this whole summer working, interning, and studying; I decided I needed a break to be one with nature for a little while. After scrolling through a lovely thread on twitter it inspired me to go on my own little hiking adventure and what better place to do that than through Okutama. It’s only about a 120-minute train ride from central Tokyo. So if you’ve had enough of the big city, it makes a great day trip to clear your head.
While Okutama is particularly popular as a “glamping site”, every season offers a different experience. From cherry blossoms in the spring to vivid autumn leaves in the fall, you’ll get a different site each time you visit.
From central Tokyo, it’s about 2.5 hours away by train on either the JR Chuo Line or the Ome Line and costs about 1080 yen one way. There’s a faster train with more privatized options at about 5,000 yen a ticket but it only shaves off about 30 minutes or so from the journey. As you get closer to Okutama you’ll slowly start to see the scenery changing from tall gray buildings to tall mountains preparing you for your hiking journey.
The first stop on my hike was the Hantonosu valley which was created by the Tama River. The Hantonosu Gorge is often referred to as the most beautiful spot in the Okutama area, especially because in the fall, the foilage is very beautiful. From Hantonosu Station, a 2 km long path leads you to a suspension bridge called “Hantonosu Kobashi” and onto the river. Although this area isn’t as smoothed out as the campsites you can still find some good sunbathing spots and even enjoy a soak in the river, but be careful because the water is extremely cold.
Nippara Limestone Cave
Once you’re finished swimming in the river, take the train to Okutama station to do a little more exploration. The Nippara Limestone Cave is the largest cave in the entire Kanto area. The large stalagmites rising from the floor are as impressive as the numerous Buddha statues scattered throughout the system of tunnels and caves. The temperature inside the Nippara Limestone Cave is apparently always around 11C, making it a great escape from the summer heat.
After a long hike (and river swim!) there’s really nothing better than soaking your body in a refreshing bath. Moegi hot spring is 5 minutes from Okutama station and even if you’re not a fan of hiking, the bathing facilities are so scenic, many Tokyo residents visit them just for a day of soaking and relaxation. Bathing in the natural waters is said to relieve you from muscle and neuralgic pains. The hot spring also has its own restaurant that tickles your taste buds with authentic soba, udon, and rice dishes.
I’m not much of a hiker but living in Japan will change a lazy introvert into an enthusiastic day hiker real quick. Hopefully I can find some other spots before the weather gets too cold.
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