Category Archives: NORTHWEST: Ome, Mt. Mitake & Okutama

Ome, Mitake & Okutama

Tama River Spot in Ome, Mitake & YOSHIZO cafe

13902833_10210319289879937_8650448021880006200_nI 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!

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yoshizoThere 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.

13909035_10210319288959914_6446864013225882158_oI 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

Mitake Parking spot near Tama River

YOSHIZO Cafe

Don Quijote

photo 1Looking 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.

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Tengu-no-taki Waterfall, Hinohara

photo 2If 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.

photo 5If 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.

photo 2DIRECTIONS: 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.

Shiroiwa-no-taki Waterfall and Hiking Trail

Hinode Waterfall 7Hinode Waterfall 1Located 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.

Hinode Waterfall 5To 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

FB-6319Rose 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.

FB-6315When 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.

White Cloud Mountain, Torii Kannon

WCM4WCM10Escape 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.

WCM2Hiranuma 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.

WCM9WCM8Open 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.

WCM5If 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.


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Fukiage Iris Park

DSC_0441Located 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

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Map from Shiofune Kannon to Fukiage Iris Park

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Ome Railroad Museum

Jenn B Ome RailroadA 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.
Jenn B Ome RailroadNagayama 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.
Jenn B Ome Railroad 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.

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Kiva – Organic Produce Market

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:

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Wakagusa Park in Ome

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

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Kasumi Market in Ome

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.


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Nippara Limestone Caverns

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.

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Okutama

Lake Okutama and Dam, Sarah StrausOkutama 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.

Map to Okutama Lake parking near the dam

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More Photos
Cross this red bridge on Route 411, then go through the tunnel.  On the far side find a place to park for the Pontoon Bridge.

 

These two child-friendly exhibits can be found in the museum by the Okutama dam.

 

 

 

 

This photo was taken from the narrow three story observation tower/museum on Okutama dam.

Ome River Walk, Near Mt. Mitake

Ome River Walk by Sarah StrausThis 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 Ome River Walk by Sarah Strausin 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.
Ome River Walk by Sarah StrausDIRECTIONS: 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


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Ome Roller Slide (Kabokuen Park)

Sarah Straus, 2012

This is a great outing for families, and only about 11km from Yokota. The slide is said to be 300 meters long. It’s fun for kids and adults, and it’s FREE! There’s also a kid-sized zip line and a separate area with wooden playground structures. Bring layers of cardboard to sit on because the slide is hard on the rear. You might also want bug repellent, and if it’s been rainy expect mud. It’s probably not safe for kids under 2 because the slides are super bumpy, even in mom or dad’s lap.  GPS: 35.81830, 139.28423
Sarah StrausDIRECTIONS: Turn right out the Terminal Gate onto Route 16. Take the underpass and stay on Route 16 for about 2km. Turn left onto 44, Iwakura Kaido. (The intersection, about 3.2km from the gate, is signposted “IwakuraKaido.” It’s just past a Lawson’s store on the right side of 16.) You will stay on 44 for about 7km. About halfway along you’ll pass under the Ken-O Expressway, and 44 appears to deadend. Turn left at this “T,” and then take the first right. This puts you back on 44. Stay on 44 until you see a large vertical sign that says “Chofu” on your right. Turn left at the traffic light immediately after this sign. Drive a few hundred meters down this small road, until you see a large parking lot on your left. Across from the parking lot is very sharp switchback to the right. Take it uphill. When the retaining wall ends, turn left into the parking lot. Park here. Consult the map in the parking lot to find the slide and zip line areas.  -Anna Quan- Schmoldt, July 2012, photos by Sarah Straus, 2012.

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Kappa Sushi

*This place had a renovation and its system got changed. There is no longer an English menu and the model bullet train that delivers your order.  
Kappa Sushi is a chain, conveyor belt sushi restaurant that is fun and kid-friendly. There is booth seating along the conveyor belt but you can also order using a touch screen menu at each table. Orders are brought out by a model bullet train. The menu includes sushi and sashimi of course, but also udon, juice boxes, french fries and a variety of desserts. Most plates cost ¥105. There is ample parking in the back. I went for lunch on a Wednesday and it was busy but not crowded. I saw lots of small kids and nobody seemed to mind the squeals of delight coming from my 2-year-old as she watched the bullet train deliver her Hello Kitty juice box. The location I went to is on Highway 5 heading toward Ome. Its a few blocks before Kasi Kosh (aka the Pink Box, a fun second-hand store) and on the same side of the street. GPS: 35.78522, 139.31084. www.kappa-create.co.jp/en/.

DIRECTIONS: Exit Fussa gate and turn right onto Rt. 16. Stay straight to take the underpass, then turn left onto Rt. 5, toward Ome. The restaurant is on your right, before road 181. Address: 7-1-7 Shinmachi Oume-shi, Tōkyō-to, Japan. Phone: 0428-30-1036.  Hours: 10am-11pm daily-Sarah Straus, 2012.

Shiofune Kannon, gorgeous temple grounds

YT-7040Shiofune Kannon-ji is a female Buddha temple near Ome, about 30 minutes by car from Yokota. The azalea display in April and May is stunning, and it’s beautiful other times of the year as well. Not even the bleakest February day could detract from the beauty of this area. Pass under the rope between two cedar trees hung with “lightning symbols.” Ring the bell to let Buddha know you have come. The grounds are set in a 270 degree bowl, presided over by a towering Buddha statue at the rim. When the azaleas are out, all different Shiofune Kannon by Sarah Strauscolors blanket the slopes. Paved paths — suitable for a stroller, although hilly — wind through the bowl and the views are breathtaking. Follow the trail down to the pond to spot a duck or two, or even tadpoles or frogs. Hydrangeas and irises during May and June continue the flower season here. From the Buddha statue, you can meander along dirt trails on the back side of the bowl, through a shaded forest.The grounds are open every day 8-5. They never close for holidays and are the scene of several celebrations.  On May 3 ever year, there is fire-walking, food vendors, and lots of people. The small temple is open for inside viewing of Buddha on this day, also the 2nd Sunday in August, as well as during the New Year’s festivities. ¥100 is charged for a close up view of the Buddha. Admission to the grounds is normally free, but when the azaleas are in bloom parking is ¥700 and admission is ¥300.  You may bring a lunch and have a picnic. You might want to bring a blanket to sit on. There is a small snack restaurant with a small gift shop inside. Restrooms are also located next to this building. There is another shop located across from the temple. Shiofune is about 9km from Yokota. To make a day of it, consider visiting the Fukiage Iris Park during the month of June.   Shiofune Kannon GPS 35.80283, 139.28313.

YT-7129DIRECTIONS:  Exit Terminal Gate (0km) and turn right to head north on Route 16 and take the underpass. Turn left onto Ome Kaido, Route 5, (2.7km). As you near Ome, turn right on Route 194 (7km, Nogami intersection, with Mazda dealer on the left). Follow this road 1.6km up a gentle hill (8.6 from Yokota), until you reach a t-intersection with a traffic light. You’ll see, on the right side of the road, a vertical sign with pink flowers on the bottom pointing you to the left. Turn left here. Drive about 500 meters, until the road ends at a “T” intersection. There is a parking area for the temple on the right. Shiofune Kannon is up the hill to the right, diagonally left of the pedestrian exit on the other side of the parking lot. (What looks like another parking lot just beyond the “T” intersection and playground, is a private use lot for a trucking company. If the temple lot is full, you can carefully proceed up toward the right of the thatched roof gate to the temple complex. There is a white shrine, with a tile roof, toward the back of a further lot on the right hand side. You can park here. This newer shrine, by the way, is dedicated to traffic safety.) -Sarah Straus and Ace Tubbs, 2012, photos by Sarah Straus 2012, 2013, photos updated by Sarah Straus April 2014.


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Mount Mitake

DSC_5484For a day hike, nothing beats the area around Mount Mitake (御岳山), if you ask me. The mountain is surrounded by Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park, a large area of forested mountains, deep valleys and small settlements. You don’t have to be in peak condition to hike here. It’s only a short train ride away, and is easily accessible by cable car.

IMG_4199In fact, a cable car will take you to the top in 6 minutes for approximately ¥600. On a clear day you’ll be rewarded with stunning views, and even on a lousy day there’s a lot to enjoy. I love that we can take a train to go hiking. No car required. To start out, you might just walk around the top and over to the Mitake Shrine, which takes about half an hour. The paths are mostly paved and well-marked in English, so you shouldn’t have much trouble. For a longer walk, follow the well-marked path from the shrine to the ravine known as the “Rock Garden”.  The walk to Rock Garden is especially lovely in November when the leaves turn red, orange and yellow.  The path takes you down to the river and then proceeds up the river, crossing back and forth to a large waterfall.  (See photos below of Rock Garden in the fall.)

IMG_4203If you do anything more ambitious, you’ll want to get a trail map (i.e. climb nearby Mount Odake at 1267m). These are for sale at the visitor center near Mitake Station, where you get off the train. I imagine they’re also available at the visitors center on top of Mount Mitake. (Perhaps someone could check and comment below.) Bring a water bottle, clothing for all possible conditions, some yen and perhaps a snack. The top of the mountain has a few stores and ramen restaurants, and even a vending machine, so if you forget you won’t probably won’t perish.

IMG_4212It is said that Musahi Mitake Shrine is more than 2,000 years old. Legend has it that a warrior hero was buried here with a stash of weapons. The shrine has a display of ancient treasures including armor from the 12th century, and a warrior’s saddle with mother-of-pearl inlay from the 13th century. Both of which you can see for a small admission fee. The shrine also has some kind of blessing for pets. Or so I was told by a couple of other visitors. I think they’re right, because you can see a cage, apparently for pets, next to the stairs going into the shrine sanctuary. And you can buy a ticket for your dog to ride the cable car. Just go to the ticket machine and push the button with a picture of a dog on it.

fall mitake sarah strausFor a more advanced walk, I suggest Mt. Mitake (御岳山) to Mt. Hinodeyama (日の出山). You can return the way you came, or continue down the other side of Hinodeyama to the Hinatawada train station (日向和田駅) and catch the Ome line home. This route takes you past Yoshino Baigo, a lovely place to see plum blossoms in March.

Three important pieces of advice for advanced hikers, and hiking in general if you don’t read Japanese. First, do not attempt this hike without a map. A bilingual map is best. Second, carry your destination and landmarks written in Kanji. Third, take photos of signs. When you start down a trail, the signs are often in English and Japanese. Take pictures of these signs with your phone or digital camera. As you get further from civilization the signs are often in Japanese only. You may not be able to read a sign, but you can play “match the Kanji” if you have a known sample to compare it to.

Interested in more hikes? Check out White Cloud Mountain or Mount Takao. Happy exploring!  – Liz Ruskin, updated Michelle Nexon, Sarah Straus; 2013; photos Michelle Nexon; fall photos Sarah Straus Nov 2013.

TRAIN DIRECTIONS: From the Fussa train station, catch an Ome-bound train. If your train terminates at Ome, cross the platform and catch the train to Okutama. Get off at Mitake station. As you leave the station from the sole exit, you’ll see a building to your left, before you descend to the street. You can buy a map here, but hurry because you don’t want to miss the bus. Descend the stairs to street level. Turn left and cross the street. About 50 meters down the road you’ll see a green bus stop sign. The bus is infrequent but seems timed to accommodate the train schedule. The bus actually stops a little further down, on the other side of the vending machine. You may be able to follow the parade of brightly attired hikers from the train to the bus. The bus accepts the Suica Card or coin. It will shuttle you to a bus stop just downhill from the cable car. Flash your Suica again to ride the cable car, or you can buy a ticket from the machine in front of the station. Once you’re on top, go right to admire the view, then walk back to the terminus and go left down along the wooded trail.

mitake sarah strausDRIVING DIRECTIONS: At the Terminal Gate, set your odometer to zero and turn right out of the gate. Stay right to go under the overpass. Turn left onto Ome Kaido aka Route 5 at 2.8km (signposted Hakonegasakinishi Intersection. McDonalds is on far left corner).  Near Higashi-Ome station, 8km, veer right, following the blue highway sign for  “Central Ome.” Just past the Hinatawada train station (13.6km) you’ll see a blue sign for “Mitake” and “Tachikawa” that points left to Route 199. Take that left and cross the river. Drive two lights, to the end of Route 199, and turn right on Route 45. Stay on Route 45 until 20.2km, where you’ll turn left onto Route 201, signposted for Mount Mitake. Drive under the large red torii gate at GPS coordiante: 35.802204, 139.174437. Route 201 ends at the Mount Mitake cable car station. There’s a pay lot behind the station, or there are private lots that charge about ¥1000. There’s one immediately before the bus stop, at GPS: 35.79667, 139.162971.

Rock Garden; November 2013 by Sarah Straus

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The Plum Blossoms of Yoshino Baigo, Ome

sarah straus plum blossomsAs mentioned in the comment below, this place is closed until further notice.
One famous spot for seeing Japan’s plum blossoms is right near Yokota Air Base, in Ome City. About 25,000 trees, spanning a collection of 100 different varieties, blossom in the town of Yoshino Baigo in Ome City, located on the Tama River. The town is famous for a plum tree park, spread out over a small valley that Yoshino Baigo by Sarah Strausbecomes an theater of color when the blooming starts. (“Baigo” means “plum garden.”) Yoshino Baigo has a festival to celebrate this season with a number of booths selling typical Japanese festival foods and regional crafts. This festival runs from late February throughout the month of March. For 2013 the dates are Feb 23 – March 31, Saturdays and Sundays.  There’s a special day of celebration on a mid-March Sunday, with parades and traditional dancing. For 2013 this day is Sunday, March 17, with a postpone date of March 24.   Check here for more information about the festival location and time: http://www.omekanko.gr.jp/ume/matsuri.htm.  Admission to the park: ¥200. Well-behaved dogs are allowed on leash.   Yoshino Baigo (Yoshino Plum Park). GPS: 35.7865, 139.2192. – photos by Sarah Straus, March 2013.
TRAIN DIRECTIONS: Take the Ome Line train from Fussa to Hinatawada. (Most trains terminate at Ome and you have to transfer to go the remaining two stops. ) Turn right out of the station and turn left to cross the bridge over the Tama River. You are in Yoshino as soon as you cross the bridge. This main street is where the festival is held. To get to Plum Park, continue on the street until you reach a T-intersection. Turn left and look across the street for a tiny paved street on the right-hand side of the road. From the station, through town and up to the park is a walk of only about 1km.
DRIVING DIRECTIONS: Parking is scarce on the main festival day and are also limited at other times. All parking is pay parking in private lots, typically ¥500 to ¥1000. At the Terminal Gate, set your odometer to zero and turn right out of the gate onto Route 16. Stay right to go under the overpass. Turn left onto Ome Kaido (Route 5) at 2.8km. (Signposted Hakonegasakinishi Intersection. McDonalds is on far left corner.) and continue on Ome Kaido until you reach Hinatawada, in about 20 to 30 minutes. (Near Higashi-Ome station, 8km, the road jogs to the left, and at 10km it jogs right. If you find that you end up on Okutama Kaido, continue in the same general direction (WNW) and the road will intersect with Kyu Ome Kaido. Turn left and continue, you are now back on Ome Kaido.) Watch for the Hinatawada train station on your right. It is above the road level and is painted yellow. Turn left across the first bridge over the Tama River after the train station. You are now in Yoshino. (See below map for alternate directions).


View

Alternate directions: Turn right out of the Fussa Gate onto Route 16.  Turn left onto Route 5.  Take Route 5 all the way to the very end where it dead-ends into Route 411.  Turn left onto Route 411.  Turn right onto Route 45.  Route 45 follows along the south side of the river.  You will drive right through Yoshino at 3 kilometers – watch for the hanging lanterns.  Yoshino Baigo is to the left.  If you cut left and follow the narrow roads you’ll find many people selling parking in their own private driveways for ¥500. – Alternate directions by Sarah Straus, March 2013.

Ome Museums

Ome Railroad Museum: See separate entry.

 Ome Municipal Museum & Ome Art Museum
A pleasant afternoon can be spent in Ome visiting the Ome Art Museum and the Ome Municipal Museum. When we visited, the Ome Art Museum had a small display of pieces in a variety of style from ink to watercolor, mostly from the 1930’s through the present. On the first floor was a room with artwork done by school children in a nearby park. It costs ¥200, and is closed Mondays. After going to the art museum, we walked across the Tama River, through a wooded park beside the river, and visited the Ome Municipal Museum. Everything is in Japanese, but you can look at a variety of artifacts from arrowheads to farming equipment. They have a 250 year old farmhouse that you can go inside and look at the way people lived. This museum is free.
TRAIN DIRECTIONS: Take the Ome line from the Fussa Station away from Tokyo and get off at Ome (14 minutes). Walk straight out of the station to the first light (“Ome Sta” intersection) an turn right. Go to the second light (411, Ome Shinimkaika Int) and turn left. At the next light (Ome Civic Hall S. intersection), cross the street and turn left onto Ome Kaido Road. The art museum is a two story white brick building a short way down on the right. The name is in kanji (above) on the wall. After going to the art museum, go back to Ome Civic Hall S. intersection and turn left (away from the station.) The first small street past the next light takes a very sharp turn down a hill. Go down the hill to a parking lot. Cross the pedestrian path over the river. Wander downstream and you will see the Ome Municipal museum short way past the next pedestrian bridge.
DRIVING DIRECTONS: At the Terminal Gate, set your odometer to zero and turn right and go under the overpass. Turn left onto Ome Kaido Ave, (Hakonegasakinishi Intersection, the 4th light after the underpass, appx 2.8 km from Terminal Gate. McDonalds is on far left corner.) You will wind along Ome Kaido all the way to the lake. At 8.3km, take the left fork at the “Y” intersection. Follow the signs for Okutama. Just before 10.6 km you will pass the Ome Art Museum on the left. At 10.6km, the road ends (Ome Civic Hall S. intersection). Turn left. At the first tiny street past the next light take a very sharp (almost u-turn) left, down a hill, there is a free parking lot at the bottom of the hill along the river. From here you can walk to both museums.