The Hike to Lake Okutama
Hatonosu Valley is a canyon formed by Tama River in the heart of Chichibu Tama Kai National Park, in Okutama, west to Tokyo. At the capital’s doorstep, it is the ideal place for an excursion in nature, with easy hiking trails along a gorge, beautiful views on the valley, fishing activities and relaxing onsen hot baths.
The Hatonosu-Okutama area is renowned among Tokyo residents for the ideal one-day getaway in nature it provides, with many hikes and activities available. We have selected two easy-to-walk trails:
Course #1 from Kori to Hatonosu station (3,2 km - about 1h)
This route is suitable for travelers who would like to add more walking time to their trip: they will get off the train 🚅 at Kori JR station, one stop before Hatonosu station when arriving from Tokyo.
At about five minutes’ walk toward west from the station, a street stems on the left of the main road and marks the start of the walking trail, gently going down in the valley toward the banks of Tama river. The path unfolds in a bucolic landscape, made of Japanese countryside typical houses, well-tended home gardens and a few small traditional statues.
The trail then enters in the forest and continues to an observation point on the valley. It circles on the back of a village to a pedestrian bridge connecting to Hatonosu station, and to cross to continue walking on the second course.
Course #2 from Hatonosu to Okutama station (5,1 km - about 2h)
This particular course is highly recommended, especially in autumn 🍁 when foliage display vibrant hues of red, orange and yellow harmoniously blending with the blue-green water.
The hike starts at the bridge crossing the Tama River, at the entrance of Hatonosu station. The narrow trail first seems to lead to an old shop in disrepair, however signs in Japanese confirm the route.
Then, passing in front of a tiny Shinto shrine, the walk goes down in the canyon to the water’s edge. The well-marked path follows the riverbed, jumping on big rocks, for a pleasant walk immersed in the cool and lush nature. The pristine water is attractive in any season, and it is quite often that one can encounter people enjoying paddling or canoeing near Shiromaru station.
After reaching another bridge, that is also an observation platform on the valley, one slowly walks to the houses located on Tama River's southern bank. The last part of the walk is less interesting as the path becomes a narrow sidewalk along a quite busy road to Okutama station, where this second course finishes.
Discovering Okutama City
Okutama station is in a more urbanized area and offers many opportunities to end this excursion day with a comforting activity. Nearby, the convenient Okutama Visitors Center offers some last minute advice, with a friendly staff that has some command of English-language. Various activities are available, such as:
- Cafés opened in the evening, such as the pub/restaurant Beer Cafe VERTERE, that we loved for its cozy atmosphere.
- Onsen ♨️ hot bath sessions, at Moegi no yu hot springs for example, about fifteen minutes’ walk from Okutama station, when walking back on the hiking trail. A nice facility with an outdoor bath, that welcomes hikers for a relaxing time.
- Fishing amateurs can go to Hikawa International Trout Fishing Area on the bank of Nippara river to rent fishing gears and even barbecues to cook the fishes. It is located toward north, past an impressive factory. The activity might require a large part of the afternoon. The walking path and the final view are however not worth as much as the other views of the area.
- The great Lake Okutama, easily reachable by bus from the station, offers a nice last promenade. There is no must-see here, but the panorama is beautiful, especially at sunset. It is possible to walk along its shore as well as on its dam. The large building next to the lake shelters a restaurant, a children playground, and a small free museum. The latter is worth the detour for its display of beautiful costumes and daily life objects of the Japanese countryside.
The picturesque getaway in the heart of Hatonosu Valley ends here and it is time for one-day travelers to go back to the capital.