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Sightseeing in Hinohara and Akiruno

Mt. Mito, One of the Three Mountains of Okutama

As the name “the three mountains of Okutama” indicates, there are three peaks at the headwaters of the Akigawa-River. These mountains straddle Okutama Town, Hinohara Village, and Uenohara-shi and Kosuge-mura, Kitatsuru-gun in Yamanashi Prefecture. Mt. Mito boasts a height of 1,531 meters (5,023 feet). This mountain is popular because it is the only place in Tokyo where you can see a virgin beech forest. The view from the summit is amazing, and you can see Mt. Fuji, Mt. Kumodori, the Okuchichibu Mountains, and the Tanzawa Mountains, among others. Mt. Mito, Mt. Otake (1,267 meters/4,157 feet), and My .Gozenyama (1,405 meters/4,610 feet) are collectively referred to as “the three mountains of Okutama.” If you climb Mt. Mito by using the Beech Trail (Buna no Ji), which passes by Mitoodake Falls, you can reach the summit in about 1 hour and 55 minutes. This trail, which passes by Mitoodake Falls, a large waterfall with a height of 35 meters (115 feet), is very popular.

Mt. Mito

Hossawanotaki Falls, One of Japan’s 100 Best Waterfalls

Hossawanotaki Falls is the only waterfall in Tokyo to have been selected as one of the 100 best waterfalls in Japan. It is located in the back regions of the headwaters of Akigawa-River, and has a total height of 62 meters (203 feet) in four steps. Only the bottommost step, with a height of 23.3 meters (76 feet) can be viewed from the trail. The deep pool at the bottom of the last step of the falls is shrouded in mystery, and according to an ancient legend, a giant snake lives there. Hossawanotaki Falls is also famous because it freezes beautifully in winter. The falls are located approximately 15 minutes from the parking lot, which is about a three-minute drive from the Hinohara Village Office.

Hassawa Falls

Kanotoiwa

Kanotoiwa is a large stone peak that was formed by the clear, running water of the rivers that run past it on either side. Because the rock that composes the canyon and the stone wall is of the chert strata formed during the Jurassic period, it is resistant to the erosion caused by wind and rain. This is thought to be the reason that Kanotoiwa remains, towering over the rivers in the canyon. The name Kanotoiwa means “Gods’ door rock.” This name is said to originate from the fact that the rock, when viewed from below, looks like a stone door being opened, which calls to mind the legend of Amano Toiwa, the cave in which the sun goddess hid. In addition, because Ootake Shrine is located above the rock, people say that this is the entrance to the sacred realm of the gods, and that Kanotoiwa serves as the door to the sacred realm. To get to Kanotoiwa, take a bus from Musashi Istukaichi Station. After about a 35-minute bus ride, get off at the Kanotoiwa Iriguchi bus stop. Kanotoiwa is about a 30-minute walk from the bus stop.

Kanotoiwa

Mt. Sengenrei

Mt. Sengenrei, with a height of 895 meters (2,936 feet), is a mountain in Hinohara Village. On a sunny day, you can see Mt. Fuji from the peak. There are also many double-flowered cherry trees on the peak, and in the spring when the flowers bloom, many visitors come to see them. The Sengen mountain ridge was formerly used as a trading road for daily goods such as charcoal, rice, and salt, and is said to have been the main street for the distribution of goods and for the villagers’ daily lives. Stone buddhas alongside the gently sloping road serve as reminders of this history even today. You can walk along the ridge road, which is also a part of the History Trail (Rekishi no michi), one of the Tokyo area nature trails. From the trail, you can see a brilliant view of the mountains of Tanzawa and the mountains of Okutama, such as Mt. Gozenyama and Mt. Otake. A bus, operated by the Nishi-Tokyo bus company, can take you directly to Mt. Sengenrei from JR Musashi Itsukaichi Station. Get off the bus at the Sengen-One Tozanguchi bus stop.

Mt. Sengenrei

Akigawa Gorge

Akikawa Gorge stretches from Ajiro, Akiruno-shi to the Kitaakigawa River and the Minamiakigawa River in Hinohara Village, over a total length of 20 kilometers (12.4 miles). The clear running water and the beautiful mountains that change with the seasons are truly wonderful, and the grandeur of this nature, which doesn’t even feel like you are in Tokyo, gives comfort to visitors. Akigawa River is the largest of the rivers that feed into the Tamagawa River, and the water is so clear that you can follow the shadows of fish with your naked eye, even from the bridges over the river. In Akigawa Gorge, you can enjoy many activities such as walking, barbecues, day camping, playing in the river, fishing, and trekking. It is about a 60-minute walk from JR Musashi Itsukaichi Station.

Akigawa Gorge

Potatoes

In the past, most people in Hinohara Village grew crops for their own consumption, and each family cultivated crops on a small scale. Recently, however, the village has started renting farmland that previously lay fallow as a result of the aging population and damage caused by animals. This farmland is now used for the village’s “weekend farmer” program, which serves the needs of people who want to work with the soil, and leads to further interaction with people from the city center. Potatoes, which grow in well-drained fields, as well as processed foods and specialty dishes made from potatoes, and helping to increase the output of this farmland. The official village character, Hinojaga-kun, is also based on the image of a potato.

Potato ice cream

Forestry

In Hinohara Village, where 93% of the area of the village is forested land, forestry has always been a vital source of livelihood. Many villagers work in the forestry industry. Although the market for wood is sluggish these days because the price of wood has fallen, the people of Hinohara Village have found other uses for wood outside of construction, and have been working to present “Hinohara wood” as a high-quality brand, by utilizing a system that allows the buyer to see the face of the person who cultivated the wood. The village is also making efforts in arboriculture, utilizing the treasures of the mountains, where many trees reach cutting age, to examine the calming effects of trees and to contribute to education.
(C)Tokyo Chainsaws

Parents and children experiencing forestry

Mito Sansou: A Lodge Serving A Dinner Course Called “Keyaki,” Featuring Many Small Plates of Mountain Vegetables

The main building of the lodge Mito Sansou is about 400 years old, and was originally a private home. The annex is used as a Japanese-style lodging facility for tourists. Mito Sansou’s most famous menu item is a dinner course featuring many small plates of mountain vegetables. In addition to 20 types of mountain vegetables arranged on small plates, the meal also includes sashimi-konnyaku (sashimi-style slices of a vegetarian jelly made from root vegetables), wasabi-flavored pickled vegetables, tororo (grated sticky yams), barley rice, and miso soup. The mountain vegetables are selected and prepared in a variety of ways depending on the season, and seasoned with vinegar, soy sauce, and miso. The brown, yellow, green, and pink colors are also bright and eye-catching. Each of these vegetables has its own unique taste, and you can enjoy dishes that are slightly bitter, sweet, or sharp to the taste.

The mountain vegetable dinner course at Mito Sansou

Hinohara-Shikino-Sato: A Restaurant Featuring Local Cuisine Made with Local Ingredients

Hinohara-Shikino-Sato is a restaurant where you can enjoy homestyle cuisine featuring home-grown vegetables from Hinohara Village. In Hinohara, vegetables come into season slightly later than they do in central Tokyo, and they are grown in small fields on steep slopes. Great care is taken to use these vegetables, as well as the precious mountain vegetables that are gathered in the mountains. The restaurant specializes in meals that allow diners to experiencing Hinohara as it is now, rather than using early ingredients from the coming season. The maitake mushrooms used here are cultivated by the Hinohara Kinoko Center (Hinohara Mushroom Center) at an altitude of 840 meters (2,756 feet), where the temperature is maintained at about what it is in Hinohara Village in October. This allows the restaurant to use not only wild mushrooms, but also mushrooms cultivate locally.

A tempura meal featuring maitake mushrooms and seasonal vegetables

A Variety of Hiking Courses to Enjoy

You can choose from a rich variety of hiking trails, such as the one leading to Mt. Mito (the largest mountain with an elevation of 1,531 meters or 5,023 feet), or to Mt. Gozenyama, to Mt. Otake, or along the Sengen mountain ridge. Other hiking courses include a gentle walking course around Hossawanotaki Falls, a waterfall hiking course that passes by Tengutaki Falls, Ayataki Falls, and Tuzura Rock, and over Mt. Odake, and an expert hiking course that starts from Hinohara Tomin no Mori and then passes through the virgin beech forest and over Mt. Mito. This variety means that visitors can enjoy a hiking course that is well suited to their own ability and schedule.

Therapy Road

Hinohara Tomin no Mori

Hinohara Tomin no Mori is a facility located between the altitudes of 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) and 1,500 meters (4,921 feet). Here, visitors can enjoy nature firsthand. Hinohara Tomin no Mori is located near Mt. Mito, on the road that goes around Lake Okutama. Facilities such as a woodcraft workshop and a restaurant are located in the precious natural forests, where beech trees remain. Elderly guests and wheelchair users can also enjoy these facilities. To get to Hinohara Tomin no Mori, take a Nishi-Tokyo bus from JR Musashi Itsukaichi Station for about 60 minutes, and get off at the Kazuma bus stop. Then, transfer to a second bus, which will arrive at the Tomin no Mori bus stop in about 15 minutes. Note, however, that there is no bus service between Itsukaichi City and Tomin no Mori in December, January, or February. Parking is available for up to 100 regular-sized cars.

A woodcraft class

Kazuma no Yu

is famous for hiking. Anyone can visit this hot spring as part of a day trip; it does not include lodging facilities. The facility features several baths, including an indoor massage bath and jet bath, an indoor sauna, a large outdoor bath, and individual pot-style outdoor baths. From the outdoor bath, you can look up and see the forest all around you at this hot spring facility located in the middle of nature. There are no towels available to rent, but hand towels are sold for 180 yen apiece. The fee for the hot spring is 820 yen, so you can take a bath and buy a towel for exactly 1,000 yen. From JR Musashi Itsukaichi Station, take a Nishi-Tokyo bus to the Onsen Center bus stop. The bus ride takes about 60 minutes, and Kazuma no Yu is located immediately in front of the bus stop.

Kazuma no Yu

Seoto no Yu

Seoto no Yu, a hot spring facility located in Akigawa Gorge, utilizes the natural hot springs in Akiruno City. This facility can also be used by day visitors who do not plan to stay the night. You can view the impressive nature of Akigawa Gorge spread out beneath you. Both the indoor and outdoor baths are natural alkaline simple hot springs. Single-story and maisonette-type cottages are also available as lodging facilities. While enjoying the beauty of the four seasons, you can ease your fatigue by relaxing in the hot water. To get to Seoto no Yu, take a Nishi-Tokyo bus from JR Musashi Itsukaichi Station to the Seoto no Yu bus stop. The bus ride takes about 17 minutes.

Seoto no Yu

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