5 Things To Do In Okutama – Explore The Backyard Of Tokyo
You probably have travelled to Tokyo countless of times. But do you know that there is more to the capital than its modern side. Only 2 hours away from central Tokyo, Okutama offers rich nature and spectacular landscape throughout the year. This is the town where you can go over the weekends, and appreciate its nature and history. Escape from the hustle and bustle of the city to enjoy the beautiful lakes and picturesque mountains. I love its tranquility and it doesn’t feel like Tokyo at all!
Recently, I embarked on a trip to Okutama as part of Tokyo Sightseeing Promoting Project. Here’s a list of activities you can do while you’re here.
How to get there?
We stayed in Asagaya Station the day before. So from Asagaya Station, we hop on the JR Somu Line to Mitaka Station. Then, we took JR Rapid Expr Holiday Okutama 3rd and reached Okutama Station.
1. Be awe by the beauty of Okutama Lake
From Okutama Station, take a bus to Okutamako-Lakei (Bus timing please see here: http://www.nisitokyobus.co.jp/rosen/noriba/okutama.html)
Lake Okutama-ko is an artificial lake formed by Ogouchi Da. The large lake is the largest source of water for Tokyo city. It also captures a nice harmony of natural beauty and man-man structures. Here, you can see cherry blossoms in spring, beautiful greens in summer, colorful leaves in fall, and the frosty snow scape in winter.
2. Slurp the best soba
After a scenic walk around Okutama Lake, we cross the road and begin a 15 mins walk up to Aomedachi Fudoson rest house to have lunch. It was an easy route up with no steps, and you will soon reach the tranquil rest house where you get to eat their homemade soba noodles from scratch using the clear water from Okutama lake!
The main attraction is obviously the soba. The buckwheat noodles, rolled and cut by hand, are made fresh daily. Order the plain cold soba, nested on an unadorned bamboo mat, and a ceramic mug of seasoned broth at its side to dunk the noodles. It was so good that we were approvingly slurp them loudly. It is accompanied by side dishes cooked using local ingredients by the resident soba master.
For more information: http://www.okutama-aome.com
With my coordinator, Sayaka.
Matcha gelato is always a good idea, especially when you are in Japan.
Look, autumn is coming!
3. Explore an underground world of Nippara Limestome Cave
From Okutama Station bus stop, we took a bus to Higashi Nippara bus stop and visited the Nippara Limestone Cave. Discovered in 1963, it is one of the biggest cave in Kanto area. Upon entering, we were all shivering from the cool 11°C breeze. But after you start walking in the cave and explore the different natural features, the temperature was bearable. The cave is about 800m deep and let me warn you, don’t get too distracted by the rocks as you might bump your head against the low ceiling.
Read about it here: http://www.nippara.com/nippara/syounyuudou/syounyuudou.html
4. Get an adrenaline rush from river activities
Immerse yourself in nature can certainly be relaxing, but who is to say you can’t also have some fun. If you’re feeling adventurous, alight at Mitake Station and visit the Okutama Canoe School to participate in water activities like rafting, hydrospeed, canyoning and river SUP (Stand Up Paddle board). They have swim suits and sports sandals for you.
5. Pamper yourself with a relaxing onsen
Okutama is home to several onsen (hot springs). Among them, Mikawa-ya is located near Okutama station. It is open to the public. Thereafter, have the traditional Japanese bento.
Address: 1414 Hikawa, Nishitama-gun, Okutama-machi 198-0212, Tokyo Prefecture
Where to stay?
When you travel at Okutama, I recommend that you spend at least a night there so that you can take your time to slowly explore this quiet and mountainous town off Tokyo. So if you are finding a place to stay, I highly recommend Hatonosuso at Hatonosu Station.
Onsen hot spring is available at Hatonosuso as well. The hotel was renovated last year so things are really new and big. Our room oversees a beautiful greenery and we even have a small bathroom with bathtub and a toilet. The onsen hot spring bath is impressive, with two bath options. Yutaka is provided during the stay. You can select one from the rack in the lobby.
The restaurant in the hotel serves Italian cuisine cooked with organic local vegetables for dinner. We started our dinner with ham and pasta tossed in tomato sauce. The grilled beef in red wine jus is excellent, with nicely charred skin and pink succulent meat.
Have a change from the normal Japanese breakfast as the hotel provides scrambled eggs to kick start your day.
Address: 662 Tanazawa, Nishitama-gun, Okutama-machi 198-0106, Tokyo Prefecture
Thank you Tokyo Metropolitan Government for sponsoring the trip. This is part of Tokyo Sightseeing Promoting Project. For more information, please visit https://tokyoreporter.jp