Mt. Mitake in the western side of Tokyo is one of the popular choices for those looking for a day trip to the mountains. Part of the 1250-square kilometer Chichi-Tama-Kai National Park, it features unspoiled forest, fresh rivers and waterfalls and breathtaking sceneries
Japan, despite having a highly urbanized reputation, has impressively maintained a balance between rapid modernization and nature preservation. It’s amazing that just over an hour away from one of the world’s busiest cities, Tokyo, are forests and mountains in almost pristine form.
Nature is one comfortable commute away. It is one of the reasons why hiking is a popular activity in Japan. You don’t have to be a seasoned mountaineer or an athlete to get out there. Kids, senior citizens and everyone in between can enjoy a day hike from numerous beginner-friendly destinations around.
Mt. Mitake in the western side of Tokyo is one of the popular choices for those looking for a day trip to the mountains. Part of the 1250-square kilometer Chichi-Tama-Kai National Park, it features unspoiled forest, fresh rivers and waterfalls and breathtaking sceneries. Standing at 929 meters with relatively gentle slopes, everyone is welcome to appreciate its beauty.
Mt. Mitake Sights and Scenes
It was the middle of spring and the weather was perfect when we took a day hike to Mt. Mitake. At around 10 in the morning, we were at the Mitake train station prepping up for our climb. This was actually a bit late for a normal dayhike, but we were hoping that the trail is easier than what we imagined.
From here, hikers usually take the bus going to the mountain’s jumpoff point. It is a ten-minute ride to Mitakesan’s cable car station. But since the weather was nice and the views were even better, we opted to walk all the way.
We got to the cable car station around forty minutes later, after chancing upon some pretty interesting roadside sights. There were not much other hikers around, or perhaps because everyone was already halfway to the top. Right then, we were welcomed by Mt. Mitake’s towering forest trees.
Climbing Mt. Mitake can divided into two sections : the paved and the trail parts. The paved portion is actually the narrow road that leads to the small village in the mountains. Those who are in a hurry or trying to save some energy can skip this one by taking the ropeway (cable car). But if you have a bit of time and strength to spare, doing the paved section is really rewarding.
We arrived at the Mitake visitor center at around noontime. While taking a breather, we asked for suggestions on possible routes that we could take. Our original plan was to hike until the neighboring peak, Mt. Odake. But since we were already behind schedule, if do it, we might not be able to catch the last bus to the train station. We were advised to take Mt. Mitake’s common route, which takes about three to four hours to finish.
After passing through the village and a few shops and cafes, we arrived at Musashi Mitake Shrine’s entrance. We planned to have the shrine as our last stop for the day so we went past it and continued to the path on the left side of the sacred complex.
Mitakesan’s trail are well established and very easy to follow. For every fork are signposts and directions. There are also a few rest stations with tables and benches. The usual place for hikers to eat their meals can be found a few hundred meters after the shrine.
Further south is an open grass area called Nagao-daira. It is a good viewpoint to see the surrounding mountains. It’s also a nice spot to have a picnic.
Mt. Mitake nestles a small river system that branches to the Tama River. Taking the common hiking trail leads to a couple of waterfalls, the Nanayo-no-taki and the Ayashiro-no-taki. Both are relatively medium sized with probably around 20 feet drop.
As we get deeper into the forest, the track got a little more challenging. The were short stretches with steep slopes that we had to scramble to get through.
Mt. Mitake features several impressive rock formations, one of which is the Tengu-iwa rock. It is a large boulder located a few hundred meters from the Nanayo falls. On top of this rock, two small statues of the long-nosed goblin, Tengu, can be found.
Just a little further is a section called the Rock Garden. As the name implies, it is a parade of several impressive rock formations covered with moss and plants.
A few notable trees can also be found along Mitake’s trail. The Ohama no Katsura tree near Ayashiro falls is around 300 years old and 38 meters high. Meanwhile, the “Tengu’s Chair”, an old cedar tree, is 350 years old and stands at towering 60 meters.
We looped around Mt. Mitake’s trail for about three hours. We got back to the Musashi Mitake shrine, at around four in the afternoon.
Believed to be established in 90 BC, this shrine is one of the oldest in Japan.
Sacred buildings located closer to nature never fails gives me a calming feeling. It was a blissful day at Mt. Mitake. Before heading home, we thanked the gods for another safe and enjoyable hike.
How to get to Mt. Mitake
Mt Mitake can be accessed from Mitake Station of the JR Ome line.
- From Shinjuku (Tokyo), the common route is via the JR Chuo Line then transfering to Ome station of the JR Ome Line (Total Fare : ~920yen, Travel time : ~1hr 30 mins)
- Also from Shinjuku, an alternate is via the Seibu-Shinjuku Line, transfering to Ome Line’s Hajima Station (Total Fare : ~830yen, Travel time : 1hr 50 mins)
From Mitake station, there is a bus that goes to Mt. Mitakes cable car station (Total Fare : 290yen, travel time : 10mins) every 20 mins.
Hyperdia is a great site for checking the train schedule.
Mt. Mitake Facilities information
- Hours : Visitor Center Operating time is from 9am to 4:30pm
- Fees : Cable car is 690/1300 for adults and 400/750 for kids (one way/roundtrip)
- Check more about Mt. Mitake from their site.
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