Hiking trails in Japan – Lake Okutama
Want to catch the fresh crisp air and escape city life for a day? Why not take a day into the hiking trails of Lake Okutama. As the Japanese say Shinrin Yoku (森林浴) meaning forest bathing or relaxing in the forest
When I was living in South Africa, one of my hobbies was to go hiking in the midst of nature and to destress, so when I came to Tokyo, it was sure on my list to join hiking groups.
Before the monstrous Corona hit us, I was fortunate enough to participate in a hiking group and go on hiking trips. One of my favorite hiking trails was the Lake Okutama hiking trail, which is situated on the west side of Tokyo. The hiking trail is very suited for beginners and for a day out into nature.
The course starts from Okutama station and goes along the Tama river to reach the lake as the ending point. Not forgetting to mention that the view along the way is breathtaking.
Although Okutama is close to Tokyo, when one reaches here, it is amazing how people here are still living quite a simple life, planting their own fruits and vegetables, still using fire as a source of warmth.
In comparison to Tokyo, if one thinks of places like Shinjuku or Shibuya, the constant flashing lights, busy trains, and fast-paced lifestyle, someone in places like this in Japan, it makes you feel a sense of peace and harmony with nature.
One interesting thing about rural areas in Japan, they're clean, neat, well organized and transport facilities are really well maintained, as compared to other countries I have been to or even compared to my own country where rural areas will lack a lot of basic living essentials.
The overall hike is around 10km and would take approximately 5 hours to complete at a beginner's speed. The checkpoints along the trail are the following:
1. Okutama Station (奥多摩駅)
2. Hikawa Big Bridge (氷川大橋)
3. Entrance of Okutama Old Path (奥多摩むかし道入口)
4. Fudo Water Falls (不動の滝)
5. Shirahige Shrine (白髭神社)
6. Sogaku Temple (惣岳不動尊)
7. Shidakura Bridge (しだくら橋)
8. Old Horse Water Trough (馬の水飲み場)
9. Dodokoro Bridge (道所橋)
10. Entrance of the Trail (山道入り口)
11. Aomedachi-fudoson Temple (青目立不動尊)
12. Observation Deck (展望台)
13. Entrance of Mizunesawa Path (水根沢口)
14. Okutama Water and Green Friendship Hall (奥多摩水と緑のふれあい館)
15. Ogouchi Dam (小河内ダム)
16. Okutamako Bus Stop (奥多摩湖バス停)
TIP: the trip can be quite long, so a good piece of advice is to bring some nice snacks or lunch for a mid-break with a beautiful view of the streams
Tokyo is no doubt a busy city, with people hustling around trying to reach their dreams and goals every day. Coming from a nature-surrounded country, I really enjoy being able to escape the city occasionally to go and indulge in the beauty of nature.
I really enjoyed seeing normal people’s houses with their small patches of fruit and vegetable gardens and it reminds me of the simplicity and happiness in life. On the way of this trail please watch out for the shrine, the water streams, the old train track that is no longer in use anymore.
More ever this is a really beautiful short getaway trip for those who want to escape city life for a day so whatever you do just enjoy the trip and take long deep breathes of beautiful fresh air.
So how did I join？
There are many hiking groups in Japan, I joined this hiking group through the meetup app, sign up and join in groups that are interesting to you. Some function organizers charge a small fee, however, transport/food costs are at your own expense.
It is also important to remember when you do sign up for events/extreme sports like these, one has to take into consideration of your own abilities and fitness level! Otherwise, I feel this is a great way of making friends in Japan, especially meeting Japanese or other nationalities in Japan.
I met a Chinese guy, a Vietnam girl, an Australian lady, and till today we still keep in contact! I especially loved speaking to the Vietnam girl who really inspired me with her life and how she made it in Japan.
From my circle, she was the first Vietnam girl I had met in Japan, and during the hiking time (5 hours) we could practice speaking in Japanese, talk about our life as a foreigner in Japan. After the hike, she even took me to a Vietnamese restaurant to try out traditional authentic Pho in Shinjuku!
As foreigners when we come into a foreign country, loneliness is the biggest challenge.
However, I feel we are the choice we make in life, this hike was one of the most memorable events in Japan for me, not only it broadened my understanding of other cultures, other people, made friends, had fun, and of course, exercised and got to see the beauty of Japan!
So for those who have sat indoors due to corona, when this pandemic is over, why not challenge yourself to some outdoor hiking in Japan?
Born: Taiwan Raised & Education: South Africa Background: Int Telecommunications. Currently living: Tokyo, Japan. Studied @ Waseda university. Current Job: @Tokyo in Technology Consultancy. Interests: Love exercise, Food, travels! Follow me for more insight into Japan life!
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