24 Hours in Tokyo with Ying Loong – MOUNT MITAKE (御岳⼭)
Most visitors to Tokyo will stay within the city's 23-ward metropolitan area (about the size of Singapore) for all the regular shopping and sightseeing that the city offers. Officially, the Tokyo administrative district covers an area 3 times of Singapore, with much of the area outside of the metropolitan district mountainous & forested. For Tokyo-ites, these forested areas offer a convenient location for day-hikes & climbs, away from the hustle-and-bustle of the concrete jungle.
On one my off days, I took the opportunity to visit one of the mountains in western Tokyo, Mt. Mitake ( 御岳⼭/Mitake-san), in the Okutama area.
Autumn Day Trip
Ever since my first trip to Mitake-san, I've been returning to visit nearly every year during the fall season. Autumn colours are best from early to mid-November, alittle earlier than Tokyo City due to the colder weather in the mountainous regions.
If you're based in Tokyo when visiting Japan, Mitake-san is a great day trip option that offers some nice and pleasant autumn views without having to spend too much on transportation. JR Chuo Express line trains get you from Shinjuku station to JR Mitake station (transfer at Ome station), taking less than 1.5 hours. On weekends and holidays though, I took a direct service that didn’t require any transfer.
From JR Mitake station, just walk a few steps to the bus station for a short ride to the Mitake Tozan Cable Car Station where you start your journey.
The short and pleasant 6-minute cable car ride gets you up to Mitake-san town area, where you will do most of your walking & hiking. Do mask up in the cable car like the rest of the passengers!
Right next to the cable car station, you'll get a panoramic view of the surrounding hills & forests, as well as the main Tokyo City in the distance.
As you start your walk to the town centre, you'll be greeted by a traditional red "Torii" gate, as well as some lovely autumn mountain views.
Besides the amazing view that seemed almost unreal, we really enjoyed the fresh morning mountain air as we trekked to the town. Along the way, my friends and I felt a little more adventurous and decided to take a detour away from the main route to explore the side trails.
Verdict of our spontaneity: No regrets!
Hidden away from the main path is the Ubuyasusha Shrine, a small shrine with some very old trees that symbolize love & marriage, fertility & childbirth. Around the shrine, we also caught some lovely fall colours!
Autumn foliage is something that I recommend everyone to experience at least once in their life – the blend of vibrant yet warm colours really paints a scene you'll never forget! Back on the main street, we were greeted by even more trees in beautiful autumn colours. Do note that there are some steep slopes to be encountered as you make your way through the town, so be prepared to break into a bit of sweat!
Tokyo may be flashy and exciting, but here at Mt. Mitake there is another side to the city – rich culture and nature come together perfectly. Here's a traditional wooden house/dining house along the streets of Mitake that we came across!
After a bit of walking & exploring the main street, it was time for us to grab lunch at one of the dining houses in the small shopping arcade right before the entrance of the main Mitake shrine. I enjoyed a warm sansai-soba (mountain vegetables buckwheat noodles), and my friends & I shared some local konnyaku-dengaku (warm konnyaku with miso).
With lunch settled, we continued our walk and eventually hit the main entrance to the main Mitake-san Shrine, one of my favourites spots in the Tokyo area.
After visiting Mitake Shrine, we headed further behind the mountain for the best autumn foliage that Mitake -san offered. We took plenty of photos here of course!
Our last spot for the day was Nagaodaira, an open area overlooking the mountains. Many Tokyo-ites were having picnics there, eating their onigiris (rice balls) while enjoying the mountain scenery. Around the area are many hiking trails that you can explore too, but proper hiking shoes are recommended - bring them along if you’re a hiking enthusiast!
After several hours in Mitake-san, we headed back towards the JR Mitake station to return back to Tokyo. Along the way, we took a slight detour from the bus station to the Tamagawa River for a short walk along the river. Plenty of nice autumn colours could be seen there too!
Here's a small “omiyage” (souvenir) to bring back home after all the walking done - a local lady was selling fresh harvested wasabi roots at the JR Mitake station, and I happily bought one to grate at home to serve with sashimi & wagyu steak!
When Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) make it possible for you to come to Tokyo next Autumn, do put Mitake-san on your list of potential places to visit!