Daytripping from Tokyo – A hike in Ohtama Nature Park

I had today off, and since the forecast called for heavy rain I decided it would be a good day to catch up on things indoors, starting with sleep. Hence it was with a fair bit of annoyed surprise that I woke up and saw a cloudless sky and realized I had already missed several hours of usable daylight….

Once that had been overcome, I realized it was still early enough in the day to get out to the mountains for some hiking. Although it does take quite a while to get to from my flat (over 2.5 hours – but only one connection), there are some really nice trails in the Ohtama Nature Park Northwest of Tokyo that you can easily get to on the Tokyo local railroads. As odd as it may sound, it is possible to catch a train in Tokyo Central Station and get off of it in a village in the mountains where you are the only person on the platform when the train pulls away – and that was exactly the situation today when I got off at Hatonosu station.

My intention had been to get to the top of Mt. Kawanori since that was where the trail that started at the train station led, an elevation change of roughly 1000 meters on a trail roughly 5000 meters long – all in all a good workout and a much needed change from sitting in an office all day. Due to my somewhat delayed start and lack of innate knowledge of the area, though, I found myself having to turn back do to fading daylight just before I reached the saddle above which the peak rises ever so slightly… so I pretty much did all the climbing except for the last 50 meters or so and missed the top. Something to pick up next time… – which is a valid option, as there are multiple trails leading to the top.

The trail itself was a good hiking path, just a little on the rocky side with some areas being a bit tricky due to large (2-3 feet) steps, exposed tree roots, or washed out areas on hillsides. Due to being a fairly dry season none of the stream crossings were wet, but it could be a little more interesting to cross some of them if there is much flow. Most of the walk is through a middle-aged cedar forest with the trees having developed height but not really much diameter, though there are a few older trees mixed in that give an indication of what to expect. A pair of forestry workers were at work in the tops trimming off side branches, and one area had recently been selectively logged to reduce the density.

Autumn is approaching, and while there was not stunning color there was more than a tinge of red and gold in areas with hardwoods mixed in. At one point I surprised a snake that was sunning on an exposed area of gravel, and although I managed to pull out my camera before it had relocated it turned out to be a fairly camera-shy snake and continued slithering away… not at all like my black snakes at Rurikia which obligingly stop and hold still! As usual with snakes, I was quite respectful of it’s desire for privacy and did not chase after it.


On the long train ride home I fond myself missing the post-hike blueberry milkshake that I had gotten used to when hiking in the US Pacific Northwest. As usual, Tokyo could provide an alternative during my train change at Tokyo Central – apple and honey gelato. A very nice combination.

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