Okutama, with it's stunning landscapes and abundant nature, greenery and crystal clear waters is just two hours by train from the center of Tokyo.
Okutama is located in Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park, the closest national park to Tokyo. The region is part of Tokyo Prefecture. The inhabitants of the capital go hiking on the many walking paths, or fish in its crystal clear waters to recharge their batteries and escape city life for a while.
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Okutama Lake is an artificial lake of 425 hectares which serves to supply Tokyo with water. It was created in 1957 at the same time as the Oguchi Dam, to tame the waters of the Tama River. It currently supplies about 20% of Tokyo's water consumption. The site, bordered by small wooded hills, is very picturesque and particularly appreciated during the flowering in mid-April of its some 10,000 cherry trees or in fall when the surrounding forests are tinged with gold and red. In summer, the people of Tokyo and its suburbs take refuge there to escape the overwhelming heat of the capital.
Enjoy this haven of peace and its impressive landscapes by taking a walk on the many paths that border the lake. You can even cross the lake from north to south and from east to west thanks to two floating bridges specially designed for walkers. Kids will love it!
For those who are interested in the history of the Okutama region, through the construction of the Oguchi Dam and the importance of water, there is a free museum next to the dam, at the lake: Okutama Mizu to Midori no Fureai-kan.
Getting there: A 20-minute bus ride from Okutama Station, get off at Okutama-ko.
Just a five-minute walk from Okutama Station, the "Hikawa Valley Walking Tour", which can be explored in less than an hour, offers a true journey into the wilderness. There are paths along the Tama and Nippara rivers, and halfway through, two suspension bridges, Hikawa ko-bashi and Toke-bashi, further enhance the walk. At the end of the tour, Toke Trail is a walking trail designed for forest therapy (shinrin-yoku, 森林浴) a unique concept in Japan. The valley is home to the Japanese species of giant flying squirrels and a campground with cottages for rent is located near the river.
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Further on, a hiking trail leads to Hatonosu Valley from Hatonosu Station. From a cliff 40 meters high you can admire the blue waters of the river Tama whose path created the valley long ago.
Going upstream, we reach the small Shiromaru dam, and the gorge of the Kazuma River.
Nippara limestone cave
At 800 meters deep, it's the largest cave in the Kanto region. It was formed naturally by the erosion of limestone from the stratification of the Chichibu region. The cave is illuminated 280 meters and the visit lasts about 40 minutes at a temperature of 11°C throughout the year.
The place, frequently visited, has lost its natural feel and authenticity but the cave is surrounded by high rocks that give it a special atmosphere. The rock of Bonten-iwa, which rises like an arrow to a height of 90 meters, is notably famous.
Access: 35 minutes by bus from Okutama Station, get off at Higashi-Nippari.
Points to note
- Okutama is a major wasabi-growing region.
- You will find a thermal hot spring not far from the station: Moegi no yu.
- Okutama Station Tourist Office provides maps of all Okutama hiking trails and bus schedules.