A Trip to Okutama – Experience Nature in Tokyo
Most people do not associate Tokyo with nature but if you do not mind traveling away from the city centre you can find really nice spots. In this article, I would like to introduce some nice spots in the Okutama region in western Tokyo and give an example how you could organize a day trip.
First Stop : Lunch at Restaurant Nakai
The Okutama region is famous for Kamameshi. Kamameshi is a Japanese dish where rice is cooked together with vegetables, fish and meat, and spices and sauce are added for flavour.
There are many Kamameshi restaurants in the region. One that appears in most top lists is the restaurant Nakai.
The restaurant can be reached from the JR Kawai station, but it takes about 20 minutes on foot. The station can be reached via the Ome line.
The food is slightly expensive but very good. On weekends the restaurant can get crowded during lunchtime so you might have to wait a bit. But the restaurant is surrounded by a nice Japanese garden that you can enjoy while waiting.
This chicken Kamameshi set menu was 1900 Yen.
Next Stop : Hatonosu Valley – Great View and Lost Places
From Kawai station, you can take the Ome Line to Hatonosu station where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the Hatonosu Valley.
Along the way from the station to the valley, you can find the ruins of several abandoned hotels and Ryokans. Although entering is not allowed these are nice for taking photos and maybe taking a peek through the windows to see a bit of real-life history. If you like visiting lost places I would suggest this is a nice place to start in Japan.
When I visited the Hatonosu Valley I saw some people swimming in the river that goes through the valley however I would not recommend that as this area is not officially designated for swimming so it is probably not safe and there is no one coming to rescue you in case you get in trouble.
A Short Break at Café Hoppo
On the way back to the station you come across a cute little café called Hoppo where you can enjoy a nice view over the valley while getting some coffee and a dessert. You can get different coffees and teas at around 500 to 600 yen.
Final Stop: Okutama Lake
The last stop I would like to recommend is the Okutama Lake. First, you need to take the Ome line to Okutama station. Then you must take the bus at Bus Stop 2 going to Okutama Lake. The bus ride takes about 15 minutes.
The buses are not that frequent so you might want to check the timetable ahead of time. Depending on the weather, the lake can look as clear as a mirror and is great for taking photos.
Around the lake, you can find several souvenirs stands. The Okutama region is also famous for wasabi so you can buy all kinds of wasabi related products and plushies and figures of their wasabi mascot.
They even have wasabi ice cream. I tried it and must say it did not taste as bad as expected but in general, I would prefer "normal" ice cream flavors.
If you are looking for a day trip from Tokyo and you like good food, nature, and lost places I can recommend a visit to the Okutama region. While you can get around by train and bus, I assume a car would be the more comfortable option as trains and busses are not as frequent as you might be used to when taking trains in central Tokyo.