Nice little river side restaurant that is very relaxing. It is 15 minutes away from Nippara Limestone Caves. They serve things such as pizza, curry, pasta and salad. You can also go trout fishing for about 600 yen which adds a bit of excitement to the day. All in all a great place to stop for lunch. The restaurant also has some free parking spots. ~Kalina Bojkova, August 2019.
Great for families with babies and kids 4 and up who can walk and do a lot of stairs. A tad more challenging with a toddler but still a lot of fun especially if you have a strong dad with you who doesn’t mind carrying the toddler up the steep stairs. Has a bunch of spots to stop and look around which is very recharging. There’s a little area right by the entrance of the cave where you can sit by the water and have lunch and also covered benches upstairs by the bathroom.
Bring a jacket with a hood and you should be fine. Cold Water is dripping down hence the hood. Definitely hat or hood for little kids who don’t like cold water on their heads. There is not much space for big hats so a hood is better. You can wear long pants but if you are walking the whole time you will warm up. Kids should probably wear long pants too. My warm blooded husband was happy wearing shorts and a tee as you can see in the picture.
Bring little easy snacks for the kids to keep them happy as it is 45 min adventure and the echo makes it extra loud when they cry compared to the Japanese people who talk to each other in a whisper.
There is free parking not many spots available so go early. They also have toilet, a little restaurant, a shrine and lots of nature. It’s a great day trip. Also go with a small car and a really good driver the way up is one way. Perfect for a motorcycle ride per my husband’s words. ~ Kalina Bojkova, August 2019.
My husband loves to fish and after being in Japan for almost a year and not fishing, I knew it was time. I had overheard a friend talking about this place and we went the next day. Okutama Fishing Center did not disappoint. The drive is about 45 minutes from base. Once you arrive you will be on the opposite side of the Tama river and it looks as though you cant drive across. Keep going! The road is narrow but there is indeed a road going over the river to the decently sized parking lot.
The area alone is worth the drive. It is absolutely beautiful along the river. We went on a very rainy day and still had a blast. There are different types of fishing available. You can pay for day passes for fishing along the river. You can also pay for half day fishing on certain types of fishing. Prices vary depending on what you choose to do. We arrived around 11am and therefore decided to just fish in the pond. We had 3 children ages 4 and under and we were there to experience fishing with them.
The pond was 400 yen per child. We got the vibe the pond was more for children because it was very easy to catch fish and you could potentially get quite a bit in a short time. We were only charged for the children. We were then given bait and 3 fishing poles and nets. We hung our nets on a hook that hangs into the pond and began fishing. In less than 30 minutes we had caught 7 fish and we decided to call in quits.
When we finished the men working at the center cleaned our fish, put them on sticks and slathered them with salt. We paid an extra 500 yen to rent a small grill. Each fish you catch also costs 350 yen. After we got our grill we were shown an area out of the rain to grill our fish. They showed us how to grill it and when it was done we ate it right off the stick. It was amazing fish and an really fun experience. Near the rest rooms there is also bags of potatoes and onions you can purchase to grill as well.
When our fish was done we took one last walk along the river before heading home. There were fishermen set up everywhere. The kids had a great time playing in the streams leading to the river and throwing rocks. I imagine in nicer weather grilling right on the river is also allowed. Okutama Fish Center was a fun introduction to fishing in Japan and a fun day out. Deena Brunson, July 2019
If you’re comfortable with hiking 6-8 miles in a day with moderate elevation gain (1800-1900 feet), this is a pleasant hike that’s easily accessible from base. We initially found out about this hike from the following link, which has more details as well as information on other hikes in the area: https://ridgelineimages.com/hiking/mt-iwatakeishiyama/ As the hike starts and ends at Ome Line train stations (Mitake and Ikusabata), the logistics are fairly easy — no buses involved. To access the start of this hike, take the train from Fussa Station (Ome Line) to Mitake Station (towards Okutama). It may be necessary to transfer in Ome; as not all trains are direct — check Google Maps to confirm.
Once you get off the train in Mitake, stop by the Visitor Information Center (can’t miss it – its directly by the stairs leading down from the station exit) and pick up an “Ohtama” area map. If you ask, they’ll also be able to provide a map of this specific hike, and a paper showing directions to the trailhead. I’ve attached these directions to this post as well, for reference.
The trailhead starts near a temple a few minutes away from the train station. Go down the stairs at the station exit, and turn left at the street. You’ll pass an ATM on your left (inside its own building), and will see a set of stairs on the left immediately after the ATM. Go up the stairs and cross the train tracks. Turn left, and then turn right into the temple entrance (you’ll see the temple). Once just inside the temple, go to the left, and you’ll see the trailhead marker.
As you go along the hike, you’ll see signposts with kanji, but also English in small labels below. At the start, you’ll want to follow the signs for “Mt. Iwatakeishiyama 岩茸石山”. Once you’ve reached Mt. Iwatakeishiyama, then follow the signs for “Ikusabata Station”, which is the finish point where you’ll catch a train back towards Fussa Station.
The hike starts with a fairly quick ascent; but (mostly) levels off after that point. There are two points where you have the option to either ascend to a peak for a better view, or keep going. Recommend taking the climb up to Mt. Iwatakeishiyama for a view — you’ll likely also see a large number of Japanese hikers taking a snack break here. If you choose to ascend the fork to the peak, there is no backtracking required to get back to the main trail — the fork continues down the other side of the peak and rejoins the main trail.
Continuing on, you’ll come to a temple in the mountains, right along the trail. Its a nice spot to take a break and look around, and there are bathrooms here (did not check them out, but expecting squatting/pit style). Descending from here, you’ll enter a fairly exposed valley, and continue down past a stream. As you continue downward, you’ll come to a large manmade dam, and the trail becomes a stone stairway. Look out for snakes sunning themselves along the steps; they should be easy enough to spot.
As we reached the end of the stairway, we came to a Japanese shop that offers some drinks at picnic tables outdoors (beer, coffee, lemon sour, water) as well as cooked fish. My Japanese wasn’t great, but we were able to understand well enough the owner’s indicating that ‘everything is OK to eat’ on the fish, as its cleaned and cooked whole and ready to eat (skin and all), which might be unfamiliar to some folks. The owner was very friendly, and everything was pretty reasonable – we got two cooked fish and one coffee for under 1000 yen. Be sure to bring cash if you’re planning to stop here, as I don’t imagine this shop takes credit card.
After this shop, the ‘trail’ becomes a road, keep going onward and it will merge into a slightly larger road. Bear right, and continue. Eventually, you’ll come to a point where there is a sign pointing towards Ikusabata Station up a small road on the right – take this road upwards, and you’ll cross train tracks. Turn right, and you’re at the station. Take the train back towards Fussa. This is all shown on the maps as well; and if you download offline maps on your phone before the hike, you can also ‘mark’ the location of the station if you’d like to be able to double-check along the way. – Joshua Milburn, April 2019
The hike from Mt. Mitake to Okutama is a gnarly one made even more adventurous with an overnight at an inn on the mountain.I had a cousin of mine, a hard core hiker, coming to town so I researched some of the hiking options in the area.My research led me to spend a night at the Shukobo Komadori-sanso Inn, a lovely little spot in the village near the top of Mt. Mitake.This seemingly forgotten and a little bit dusty place (not perfect) was our introduction to the Japanese Inn.My wife and I and my cousin and his girlfriend arrived after a short walk from the top of the cable car and a stop at the Mitake Visitor Center where we picked up a map of the hike (a map with Japanese letters is a must!).Upon checking in, the innkeeper insisted that we change into our robes and return for dinner.Dinner in the small dining room was surprisingly good!Our room was good sized with futons on the floor and a table inside the room and on the shared patio.A small onsen tub is available in both the women’s and men’s washroom.The next morning we were served a hearty breakfast before we headed for Okutama.This hike is no joke.We summited two different mountains as we trekked up and down (it seemed like the trail was never flat).A few of the spots had great views of Mt. Fuji.Bring lots of food and water; there are no vending machines up here, baby. The trail leads down to Okutama where you can get some food and take the train back home. This hike is not for children. Teens may be okay.This trip sure makes for a pretty simple 24 hour getaway from Yokota for those with only one day to spare. Happy Travels! – Zeke Lyons, January 2018
A 45 minute drive from base, Okutama is an easy day trip with some beautiful views of the Tama River. While visiting there one weekend we stumbled upon a brewery called Vertere Beer Cafe. It is tucked back on a small street across from the Okutama Train station. We were able to parallel park on the street but there are also paid lots in town. We took our 8 and 4 year old boys with us so it was child friendly during the day. They had a variety of foods you could order along with a nice beer menu. We tried the homemade pickles, chips & salsa and french fries but there were many other options on the menu. We tried 4 out of their 5 beers and liked them all. They did not have a tasting flight so we both ordered two glasses and sampled each others. My husband liked the Cream and Red IPA while I enjoyed the Weizen and Golden. We sat out back in their garden area for about an hour before going out to explore more of the area. Its definitely a spot we will return to!
I found a great Tama River spot in Mitake and a dog-friendly pizza restaurant called YOSHIZO cafe. If you are looking for something to do out of the city with your family and friends, this is a great Sunday Fun-day getaway.
To the parking lot nearby the spot was about a 40 min drive from the base. There was a group tour heading out on a rafting trip nearby. There is a walking bridge crossing overhead that will take you to the other side, likely into the town of Mitake (I was on the other side of the river from the actual town). There was a family with a tent set up (camping might be allowed). Parking was Y100/hour and there were more than enough spaces in the lot (I was there in the morning). There are public bathrooms adjacent to the parking lot.
I highly recommend aqua-socks, keens or some protective footwear you can wear in the water because the rocks hurt!
There is a pizza restaurant called YOSHIZO cafe up the hill advertised dogs OK.
They spoke limited English. I tried to order lunch on the patio but they told me it was reserved, so I ended up ordering pizza to go and sat on the grass overlooking the river instead.
I still had a nice lunch while the dog enjoyed the air conditioning in the car. – George, August 2016
YOSHIZO cafe website: http://yoshizo-cafe.tokyo/index.html Hours: Fri-Wed Lunch time 11:30am-4:00pm (Last Order 3:00pm)
Dinner time 5:00pm-9:00pm (L.O. 8:00pm) Phone: 0428-78-7887
Looking for a unique gift? Or something you can’t find anywhere else? You may find it at a Don Quijote. They have all kinds of goods; cell phone accessories, beauty products, clothing, liquor, car accessories, electronics, etc. They also offer inexpensive seasonal goods, such as Christmas decorations during the winter, and water toys during the summer. The closest location is right across from base on Route 16. Parking is free. The hours are from 9:00 am-5:00 am, and the phone number is 042-539-7611. For more information, check out their website at: http://www.donki.com/en/. Just take a right out of the terminal gate and you will see it on the left. Michelle Nexon, July 2014.
If you find yourself in Hinohara Village, it’s worth checking out the Hossawa-no-taki Waterfall, an easy 15 minute hike. However, if you find that you want something a little more challenging, consider the Tengu-no-taki Waterfall hike. Just a quick drive from the Hossawa-no-taki Waterfall parking, the Tengu-no-taki Waterfall trailhead is easy to get to (if you don’t miss the turn), and there’s plenty of parking. The hike takes about an hour, one-way, and is mostly uphill. The first waterfall is only 5-10 minutes into the hike. This waterfall is really two falls, fairly close together. You can easily turn back, or keep hiking up. If you continue hiking, you will find the second waterfall. There are benches at the second waterfall for sitting and eating.
If you are still feeling great once you’ve reached the second waterfall, consider climbing higher to Tsuzura Rock. This is a giant rock outcropping that experienced rock climbers climb on. If you hike around the east side of the rock, you can actually climb/scramble to the top of the rock without a rope for some absolutely stunning views of Hinohara Village. (Please be extremely careful if you decide to do this). My husband and I went on a Sunday and found many rock climbers with their harnesses and rope. However, when I went on a Thursday, I was the only person there.
I recommend wearing hiking or running shoes. I’ve hiked the trail in both and was fine. Watch for slippery rocks and roots. There are a few very minor stream crossings, please be careful. And bring plenty of water. Consider getting a trail map of the area at the Hinohara Village Office, GPS: 35.726857, 139.148817. And happy hiking! Michelle Nexon, May 2014.
DIRECTIONS: To get there from the Hossawa-no-taki Waterfall parking lot, turn left (north) onto 205. Drive a couple of minutes until you see a small convenient store on the right, called Azumaya. Turn right, right after this store, GPS: 35.738151, 139.143497. Be very careful not to miss this turn, it’s a small road and looks almost like a driveway (I missed it the first time). Drive up this road until it dead ends at the trail head, GPS: 35.744315, 139.147239. If there is no room to park, drive back down a few hundred feet and consider parking at various places where the road widens. Please note that this is a VERY narrow road. When we were there on a Sunday, there were many cars parked.
Google Maps Pin to parking lot. Walk down the hill from parking and take the wood chip trail on your right to the falls.
Located near Hinode Town, the Shiroiwa-no-taki waterfall is an easy drive from Yokota Air Base. Claimed to be the greatest waterfall in Hinode, the waterfall consists of three separate falls, one that is 8.5 meters, a second that is 12 meters and the third is 15 meters. The water comes from the Hiraigawa River, who’s source begins near Mt Hinode. The hike to falls is rocky, and sometimes muddy (depending on the time of year), I recommend wearing tennis shoes or hiking boots. It’s an approximately 10 minute hike to the first waterfall, which is an easy to moderate climb for children. Continue along the trail to discover more falls. Hike for another hour and 45 minutes to the top of Mt. Hinode. The climb to the top of the mountain is fairly steep and rugged, it is not recommended for small children. Whether you go to enjoy the falls, or climb the mountain, it’s a great way to get out of town and relax.
To get to the waterfall, be sure to follow the map shown below. Please note that the road is not paved the entire way and becomes very bumpy/muddy near the falls. I took my small car and was fine. Once you arrive at the GPS destination, there are a few unmarked spaces for parking, and a restroom. The restroom is quite rugged. Be sure to bring your own water. The trailhead begins where the road ends. When you are finished with your hike, consider relaxing in the popular Tsurutsuru Hot Springs. For more information on Mt Hinode, please click here. GPS 35.769609, 139.194386. By Michelle Nexon, April 2014.
Rose Town Tea Garden is a beautiful English tea house that serves a large selection of teas and lunch. Located in Ome, just over the bridge from Yoshino Baigo, it is surprising to drive up to this white, Victorian looking building. Prior to being a tea house, it was a wedding chapel. Perched on the edge of the valley, you can enjoy the view of the Tama River, bridge crossing into Yoshino Baigo, and beautiful trees from the veranda. During the summer months the veranda is open to the warm air and in winter closed in with windows allowing for the view and the sun, but not the cold.
When you enter, the first thing you do is pick your tea. There are roughly 30 teas to choose from. Samples of each tea are kept in little jars at the entrance and you get to smell each one before you decide. There are several set menus. If you choose the full set it comes with soup, salad, sandwiches, scones, and dessert. Everything is hand made and even the jam for scones is made from the local garden. The full set costs ¥2800.
The first time I came to Rose Town Tea Garden my friend had called for reservations and we took our 4 year old daughters wearing their fancy dresses and pearls. The girls had strawberry tea that turned pink and we all enjoyed our very special date. The second time I came with a girlfriend and found it a wonderfully relaxing place for conversation. With the amazing food, sun warming us on the veranda, classical music playing and watching the birds sail through the valley, having tea here is a wonderful experience.
Open Tuesday through Saturday, 11am – 5pm. Phone: 080 4187 1727. Webpage: rosetownjapan.com. They are also on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/rosetownteagarden. Located along Route 411 at GPS coordinates: 35.791089, 139.228129. – Sarah Straus, Michelle Nexon & Megan Miller, March 2014; photos Sarah Straus.
Escape the hustle and bustle and experience that quiet moment you’ve been searching for. Only an hour away by car, this hidden gem offers nature’s beauty, Japanese culture and a little something for everyone. Located in the Naguri Valley, just northwest of Yokota, White Cloud Mountain is an easy day trip. As you are approaching the mountain, it’s easy to spot three white statues dominating the hillside. Many people park their cars at the base of the mountain and hike along a designated 45 minute trail through the forest. Along the trail you can see temples, sculptures, and various structures. Benches are scattered along the path, ideal for picnicking. While I was there on a Wednesday during the summer, I was not charged parking, however, visitors in the past have been charged ¥300. There are restrooms available next to the parking lot.
Hiranuma Yataro, born in 1892, is the founder of White Cloud Mountain Torii Kannon. Involved in politics and industry, Yataro became a sculptor later in life. The small temple at the foot of the mountain was built for his mother, an avid Kannon believer. This temple marks the beginning of the hiking trail. To the left of the temple is the home for the Buddhist priest and the right is a sculpture library. Once you pass the library, the trail begins to your left. Begin hiking and you will first encounter a gate with two mythical beings called “Niozo” who are protectors from evil. After walking through the gate, you will come upon a small temple. Walk further and you see a globe of the world topped with a statue. Continue on until you reach the road. Walk up the road to see the lovely three-tiered pagoda, the Xuanzang Tower. Vending machines are offered at the pagoda. Follow the road past the Xuanzang Tower to see the main attraction, the Salvation Daikannon, consisting of three white statues. On Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, you may enter the Salvation Daikannon for a small fee (not available December through March). ¥200 for adults and ¥100 for children, open 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Once inside, you can climb to the top to experience amazing bird’s-eye views. Don’t forget to enjoy the stained glass windows near the top. On your way down the mountain be sure to take the road, to experience the colorful Gyoku-kamon gate. Modeled after a gate in Thailand, and standing 34 feet tall.
Open year round, White Cloud Mountain offers much natural beauty. The Mountain is popular among visitors in the fall for the changing foliage. In fact, their website www.toriikannon.org has foliage information to help you plan your fall visit (please use Google Translator). In the spring, flowers are very much in bloom. However, the Mountain boasts that various flowers are in bloom throughout the year. In the summer you can catch their lantern and fireworks festival, August 16, 2013. Again, please check their website for current information.
If you want to discover the sights, but are not into hiking, no problem, there is a road that you can take up to the Xuanzang Tower and the Salvation Daikannon. The cost is ¥300 for motorcycles, and ¥500 for cars. The road is narrow and not paved entirely. The drive is only a one-half kilometer from the entrance to the summit. Parking is available at the top. GPS 35.879291,139.182992.
Sharon Chang, Teresa K. Negley, Doriann Geller, Delores Street, August 1997. Updates and photos by Michelle Nexon, July 2013.
Located less than 2 kilometers from Shiofune Kannon in Ome, Fukiage Iris Park is a lovely place to take a stroll during June when the irises are blooming. It costs ¥300 to park and ¥200 entry per adult during blooming season. There are a few vendors selling food and tents with tables and chairs set up to picnic under. It is not a large park, but very pretty and worth the visit. Couple it with a visit to Shiofune Kannon for a nice morning. Open 9am-5pm. Iris season June 1 – 30. Off season it is still possible to walk the grounds for free. GPS: 35.79713, 139.27665. See map to Iris Park from Shiofune Kannon below. – Sarah Straus, June 2o13
A tour of Ome Railroad Museum (Nagayama), nestled in the hills above Ome, is a treat for kids and the young at heart. Old engines and passenger cars invite fans to climb aboard. A 1969 Shinkansen (bullet train) begs a would-be engineer to take the throttle. The highlight is to see the indoor model trains. They run every hour, on the hour. Listen for the announcement 5 minutes before the model trains start. It is ok for kids to stand on the bench to watch the trains as long as they take off their shoes. The museum houses many exhibits – just head up the stairs. Outdoor toy train and car rides cost ¥100 each. The museum is open 10am-5pm, closed Mondays and December 29th to January 3rd. Entry for adults ¥200, kids free. Nagayama is close to Yokota and is a pleasant drive. It takes about 35 minutes from the Terminal Gate and is easy. The area has a lot of pretty plum trees and is quite beautiful in March. And in the fall, the leaves of the trees change color to make a beautiful sight! The park near the museum is great for a leisurely stroll or a place to eat lunch. It has several playgrounds where children can romp. With only a small snack bar available, I would recommend bringing a picnic lunch. There are several places to sit and take in the scenery of Ome. GPS coordinates for parking next to museum: N35.79264, E139.26292. TRAIN DIRECTIONS: Catch the Ome line from Fussa bound for Ome or Okutama. Get off in Ome. From the station, turn left up the first street. Follow that street until you come to the first street that crosses the tracks on the left. Turn left and go across the railroad tracks. Follow the winding street up the hill. It is kind of steep and the walk up takes about 15 minutes. The railroad museum is at the top of the hill. There are several signs along the way. They are in Japanese but they do have pictures of trains on them. The railroad museum is on the right; the park is on the left at the top of the hill. It is a bit hard for smaller children, so you may want a stroller. The walkways in the park near the museum are fairly smooth and some are paved. You can get back to Ome through the park. Walk along a path that parallels the tracks, back to the road that crosses the tracks. DRIVING DIRECTIONS: Exit Terminal Gate and turn right onto Route 16. Go under first overpass. Stay in Left lane to turn Left onto Route 5. Go 5.6 kilometers on Route 5 and make a 45-degree right turn (not the hard right) to continue onto Ome kaido. Follow the blue signs to central Ome. As you turn there will be a tire store on your left. The road becomes Kyu Ome Kaido. Turn right onto Nariki Kaido Iriguichi. This turn will have a store called Yaoki Gift Fruits on the corner. Go to the first light (by the school) and turn left onto a very small street. Follow that street and bear left at one fork going up the hill. The Railroad Museum (Nagayama) will be on yoru left at the top of the hill. There is a parking lot on the right as well as a few spots directly across from the entrance.. – Sondra Halweg, Christine Thomas; updates and photos by Jennifer Bobrowski, May 2013 – Enjoy railroad museums? Check out the Railway Museum in Saitama.
KIVA is located around the corner from the Kabe train station which is three stops from Fussa station towards Ome. They have a good selection of organic produce – apples, carrots, potatoes, onions, lettuce, cucumbers, daikon, etc. They also have rice, beans, noodles, crackers, honey, aisles of organic items. In addition there are bath products. Website: www.e-pod.jp/kiva/ Opening Hours 10:00 to 19:30 TEL 0428-24-6089. If you are going to Kabe, also check out TOKYU which has a large supermarket. They have a small section of organic produce in addition to a very large selection of non-organic. We found things like fresh Yuzu, and western mushrooms. TOKYU is located next to Kabe station. –Alison Hackbarth, March 2013. Directions: GPS: 35.783824, 139.287025. To take the train start at Fussa station and go three stops toward Ome. Get off at Kabe station. See the map below or click on “view larger map” for driving directions:
At Wakagusa park in Ome there is a nice assortment of outdoor play sets and a pool with a lazy river for summer months. My three-year-old daughter and I love this park. It is especially gorgeous in the warmer months. Parking and entrance are free. Combining a trip here with the nearby Kasumi Farmers Market makes for a fun outing. In the summertime, the pool entry costs ¥200 I think. Right now I’m not sure of the pool hours. Please post in comments if you go there when it opens. DIRECTIONS: Exit Fussa Gate and turn right onto Route 16. Turn left onto Route 5. Travel 3.7 kilometers down Route 5 and then turn left at the light with the Yakult convenience store. The park is located 500 meters down on the right. GPS: 35.783513, 139.297743. -Meg Martin, February 2013
Located near Central Ome, this cooperative center sells a wide variety of seasonal produce. Certain sections are reserved for certified Organic produce, so watch for a table or two of selective produce off to the side with the organic Kanji above it. Two separate parking lots accommodate the many patrons of this bustling market. In front of the building, to one side, is a large greenhouse with vegetation for sale. Open daily 9:00am-5:00pm. Phone number: 428-31-1115. Website for this market: http://www.ja-nishitokyo.or.jp/update/kasumi/_.html
DIRECTIONS: Exit Fussa gate and turn right onto Route 16 . Turn left onto Route 5. Drive straight for 3.7 kilometers and then turn right at the intersection with a Yakut store on the right hand side. The farmer’s market is on the right hand side after the first stop light. There is an additional parking lot across the road from the market. GPS Coordinates: 35.791039, 139.298764. – Meg Martin, February 2013.
For an outing with your family that is not too far from Yokota, head for Chichibu-Tama National Park and Nippara Caverns. It is a great place to take school-aged children. The caverns are well lit, but nothing like the commercialized ones in the United States. There are steep stairs to various sections, but they are well protected with handrails and wire netting. Wear shoes with tread, as the pathways are always wet. The temperature is a constant 52 degrees, but short sleeves are fine to wear. The Nippara Shonyu-Do is about 800 meters deep, with about 300 meters open to visitors. It consists of eight caves divided into two sections. The old caves, “Kyu-do,” were used as a training site for “yamabushi” or itinerant Buddhist monks at the Issekizan Shrine Temple for 1,200 years before the cavern was opened to sightseers. Visitors to the Kyu-do first purify themselves with water at the nearby waterfall and then offer coins to the guardian god enshrined in the cave. The new caves, “Shin-do,” were discovered in 1963 and have much finer stalactites and stalagmites than the “Kyu-Do.” Scientists estimate the caves were formed 5-7 million years ago. Entrance fees for the caves are ¥600 per adult; ¥400/middle school student; and ¥250/elementary school student and younger. It takes about an hour to drive there and another hour and a half to explore the caves. After you exit the cave, turn right past the parking lots and explore the area a bit. A gigantic wall of lime rocks, named “Bonteniwa” towers over the stream and along the road. There’s a waterfall about a three-minute walk up the road. There are some trout fishing pools where anglers can try their luck and roast their catch for lunch. A refreshment stand is available where a few things can be purchased, but a picnic lunch is preferable. Also see the Okutama entry for more things to do in this area.
DIRECTIONS :Exit the Passenger Terminal Gate and turn right onto Route 16. In 2.5 kilometers turn left onto Route 5. Follow Route 5 all the way to the end after 7.8 kilometers, where it dead-ends into Route 411. Turn right onto Route 411. In 20.5 Kilometers you’ll enter Okutama town and pass Okutama train station, go over a bridge. Just after the bridge turn right onto the street named Nippara Kaido . Follow this very narrow, winding road for about 10.5 km. Along the way, you go through a long tunnel as well as Nippara village, which literally hangs onto the mountainside. The road is paved to the end at the caverns, so when you see a parking lot, you have arrived. You will cross two or three bridges. After the last bridge, the road forks left and right; take the right fork to the caverns. (The left fork is a poorly maintained gravel road with no guardrails.) The road, while paved and well maintained, is extremely narrow with many switch-backs which are posted with convex mirrors to help you see around each bend. See map below. GPS coordinates: 35.85518,139.04089.
TRAIN DIRECTIONS: take a train bound for Okutama on the Ome Line at Fussa Station. There is a bus from the station to Nippara. Joyce McKim, Judy Erskine, Margaret Summers, directions updated by Jane Van Maldeghem 11/01
Comments and photo by Wes, December 2012– The cavern is a vast area to explore, and not too busy in the winter months. The website states that there was a rock slide on the road near the cavern, but this will not impede your ability to easily get to the caverns by car. The rock slide apparently happened up the mountain road from the cavern entrance, but the barricade that blocks the road from both wheeled and foot traffic is after the entrance. You can park for free just 50 meters away from the entrance although I’m not sure if they charge for this service in the summer. There is a small restaurant just near the parking lot, but note that if you need restrooms you’ll need to head down towards the cavern entrance and you’ll see a short little trail that splits off to the right (look for the restroom sign and arrow). Also right off the parking lot you can travel up a stone staircase on the opposite side of the road that leads to pleasant little shrine area. We went on a nice sunny day in December and we only saw one or two other small groups the whole time we were in the area. Our family had a little make-shift picnic on the steps of the shrine. Once you pay for your ticket you are free to walk in and roam about. As mentioned in a previous review, the cave “path” is well lit and there is a map inside (all in Japanese) of the cave layout. However, this is much more spartan than caves you may have gone to in the States. There are no tour guides, no “displays”, and there are even a few unexplored places with no lights if you’re adventurous enough and willing to climb. When you get down into the bowels of the cave it opens up into a monstrous cavern with a ceiling that is over 10 meters high. There is also an offshoot from the main “path” were you can climb a dozen flights of stairs in what we were calling a “mountain” inside the cave. All in all this was a fun day trip, and both parents and kids (1.9 and 3.5 in our case) had a great time exploring and enjoying an outdoor lunch at the Shrine.
Comments by Linda Bell, July 2013 – I concur with a lot of the past details. We, however, went at the end of July and we found it to be quite cold in the cave so we would suggest taking warm clothes with you, especially during the summer months. It was quite busy when we went, but we were lucky enough to arrive early enough (a Sunday, 10:30am) to get one of the 20-30 parking spots. We’re unsure where people should park if the Cavern parking lot is full. When we drove home, it seemed that some cars had to park (or wait for parking) on the bridge 250 meters down the road (policed by the traffic wardens), on a white bridge or on the road to the left of this bridge.
Okutama Lake and Dam
If you’re looking for a relaxing afternoon in the mountains, then Lake Okutama is for you. Surrounded by hills, the lake is a reservoir providing water and electricity for Tokyo. Take a walk across the massive dam and enjoy the museums. Spring usually arrives at Lake Okutama about mid-April. In the summertime, driving in the mountains provides welcome relief from the heat. For New England-style color, take the trip in autumn. Should you decide to brave the elements in the winter months, take tire chains and be prepared for icy roads. In addition to simply enjoying the beauty of the area and the walk across the dam, there are two free museums on location that are worth checking out. There is one tiny museum on the dam itself located in the second of two towers rising above the walkway. It is open 10am-4pm. Enter and climb two flights of stairs to find windows that allow you to safely look down the back side of the dam. There is also a scale model of the lake and dam area on the second floor. The second museum is larger, just opposite the parking lot. In addition to information about the dam there are two great exhibits for small kids, a 3-d movie, a small gift shop, an information kiosk, bathrooms and restaurant. Ordering in the restaurant is easier if you ask a waiter to help you order from the ticket machine. The restaurant is child-friendly. The museum is open 9:30am-5pm, closed Wed. To park right next to the dam and museum for free, follow the directions below to Route 411. When you near the dam on your left, turn onto Route 205 and follow the road a short distance to the dam. It is about a 90 minute drive from Fussa. GPS for parking lot: 35.79230,139.04755. If this lot is full there are several other larger parking lots a bit further down the road. – Sarah Straus, 2012. Original post for Okutama Lake by Corrie Huggins, Teresa Negley and Susie Shaw.
Pontoon Bridge across Okutama Lake
We did not make it onto this floating bridge that spans a section of the lake, but it looked amazing from the road. It closes when the lake is low.
Hatonosu-Kobashi Bridge This makes for a short, fun stop on your way to Lake Okutama. Located just off 411 in Hatonosu, find this suspension bridge over the Tamagawa River. It provides a nice photo opportunity, especially as the seasons change. Pull off the road just before the tunnel exiting Hatonosu on your way to Okutama Town. Find a place to park along the road and walk down and to your left to find the trail. There are bathrooms at the trailhead. GPS 35.81382,139.12799.
Nippara Limestone Caverns
There is a separate entry for Nippara Limestone Caverns. Parking for the caves is located approximately 10.5 kilometers up the road from Okutama Town. From Route 411 in Okutama Town, turn onto Nippara Kaido. Follow this winding paved road that ends in the parking lot for the caves. GPS coordinates: 35.85518,139.04089.
More Tourist Information
For more ideas of what to do in this area pick up the Ohtama Guide from the Yujo Center or once on the road try the Okutama Visitor Center near the Okutama Train Station. For hikers, pick up a trail map at the visitor center for a donation. The map is waterproof and shows all the trails in the Okkutama region. GPS 35.80859, 139.09763. If you go someplace different or have something to add to what has been written here already, please report back!
DIRECTIONS Exit the Passenger Terminal Gate and turn right onto Route 16. In 2.5 kilometers turn left onto Route 5. Follow Route 5 all the way to the end after 7.8 kilometers, where it dead-ends into Route 411. Turn right onto Route 411. All of the sites listed above are either on, or just off route 411.
Interested in an alternate route? Where Route 5 dead-ends at Route 411, turn left onto Route 411 and then turn right onto Route 45. Route 45 parallels Route 411 on the south side of the river and joins Route 411 before Okutama. This is a more scenic route with fewer towns and traffic. You will see more cyclist on this route as well as the turn off for Mt. Mitake, the Ome River Walk and Yoshino Baigo.
This a beautiful place to walk along the river, near the base of Mt. Mitake in Ome. You can get here by train (see Suwai entry) but we’ve found a handy free parking lot. The river is large and energetic, crashing across the rocks. Connected by several pedestrian bridges, a paved trail runs along both sides of the river. The trail crosses a dozen small streams that flow into the river and on the south side these streams create petite but gorgeous waterfalls. You can find, here and there, smaller eddies that are relatively safe to wade in. Parts of the path cut through tall evergreens, reminiscent of the Redwoods and undergrowth in Northern California. (Note for parents: Though paved, the path is not stroller-friendly.) On our excursion we saw people rafting down the river and others fishing with long poles. It’s not unusual to see kayakers practicing their rolls. When you descend from the parking lot you’ll see a pedestrian cable bridge. Cross it and you’ll find, on the left, a fabulous little spot to eat and drink! Order noodles and sake or beer from the booths and sit in a garden setting, overlooking the river. There is also ice cream for the kids and as always, fabulous public bathrooms with heated seats and a place to change diapers. GPS for parking lot: 35.80278, 139.19489. Tel. for Sawanoi Museum just before parking lot entrance: 0428-77-7051. DIRECTIONS: Set your odometer to zero as you head straight out Fussa Gate. Stay left at the “Y.” Turn right at the “Fussa City Office” intersection (1.1km, city hall on the left, post office on the right). This puts you on Route 29, Shin Okutama Kaido. At 5.6km (Jonathon’s on the near left corner, Family Steak House on the far left) turn left onto 249 and cross the river. When 249 ends, stay right to continue on 411. At 10.9km, in Ome, Route 411 will turn right and go back across the river. Don’t take this right turn! Instead, stay straight as the road number changes to 45. At 17.5km, a free parking lot will appear on your right. (It comes up quick, but the right lane of the road is paved a rusty red color just before the entrance.) The parking lot entrance is marked with a small white sign with a blue “P” on top and underneath it a symbol for handicapped bathroom. Parking is free at this parking lot. Once parked, head toward the bathrooms and then down the steep road to the river. Cross the pedestrian bridge to find both the trail and the outdoor eatery mentioned above. Also see Ozawa Saki Brewery Entry. TRAIN DIRECTIONS: You can take the train to Sawai station and walk down to the river. Looking at google maps, I think one could get off at Mitake station also and find the trail at the river. If someone has done this, let us know! Alexandra Winkler & Sarah Straus, 2012