About Us

Contact Us



Hacktreks Travel

Hacktreks 2

First Chapters

Hacktreks in Tokyo

Enjoying The Great Outdoors in Tokyo:
Tony & Yoko Kennedy

No, we haven’t 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 ( ) 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 area.

The 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.

If 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,
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 station’s 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 aren’t 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,, 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;

More Travel in hacktreks


© Hackwriters 2000-2003 all rights reserved