Tokyo has a very strong image of skyscrapers, but actually if you travel a little bit, you can enjoy great nature that seems unexplored and wild. Here are 7 spots to check out in Okutama for nature.
1. Lake Okutama
This dam lake was made when an upper stream of the Okutama River, which feeds into Tokyo Bay, was dammed. It's surrounded by mountains, and is a popular spot to easily enjoy nature. The Okutama-ko Ikoi no Michi is a 12km long walking path that you can hike, and there's also the Drum-can Bridge floating over the surface of the lake that you can take a stroll on.
This is the tallest mountain in Tokyo, at an elevation of 2,017m. It's full of mountain climbers all year round. While there are plenty of hiking routes, all of them take time so it's a difficult mountain to do in one day. The recommended route is the one where you can stay at Kumotorisansou, about 30 minutes away from the summit. The information guides are often only in Japanese, so if you decide to go, please go well-prepared with research!
3. Nippara Limestone Cave
This is the biggest limestone cave in Kanto. It's said that the limestone stalactites hanging from the ceiling take 200 years to stretch 3cm, and the mystical sight of nature's secrets will take your heart away. You can explore it in about 40 minutes, and since it's about 11℃ (51.8°F) in the cave all year round, it's cool in the summer and pleasantly warm in the winter.
4. Ogouchi Dam
This huge dam took about 20 years to build, from 1938 to 1957. The recommended spot is the view from the viewing floor on the 3rd floor of the Ogouchi Obeservation Deck. From the east window you can see a thrilling view of the 100m-plus tall dam, but from the west window you can enjoy the sight of the Okutama reservoir and the nature of Okutama.
*The Ogouchi Observation Deck is closed for seismic retrofitting between April 2016 and late January 2017.
5. Okutama Onsen Moegi no Yu
This is about 10 minutes away from Okutama Station on the JR Ome Line. The spring water in Okutama Onsen wells from Japan's oldest geological layer, the Paleozoic strata, and this onsen facility offers a day trip plan. The open-air bath is especially lovely, with a view of the Tama River and mountains all year round.
*Photo is for illustration purposes.
6. Hatonosu Valley
To reach this valley, just cross the Ome highway from Hatonosu Station on the JR Aome Line and head down. You can easily enjoy boulders and strangely shaped rocks of all sizes, and the beauty of the river flowing between them. Along the valley are man-made paths that are great for walks. Also, the suspension bridge Hatonosu Kobashi is great for a small thrill.
7. Mitsugama no Taki
The "mitsu" in the name refers to the three layers this beautiful waterfall breaks into. If you listen, all you'll hear are the sounds of the wind and the water and sometimes, the cry of wild birds. It's a small waterfall with a total height of about 12.5m, but this sight was made over a long period of time and will make you forget the passing hours.
The western part of Tokyo stretches from east-west, and it is still full of lush nature even today. It's easy to reach, so please enjoy your trip even more by making your way over!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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