A walk around Musashi-Mitake Shrine
Mount Mitake is a sacred mountain in Japan, located in Chichibu Tamakai National Park which is attached to Ome city, west of Tokyo. The sacred 929-meter-high mountain provides a good opportunity to hike to the gorgeous Shinto shrine standing at its summit. This is the ideal excursion in November, to admire the colors of fall and take a breath of fresh air.
Mount Mitake, as well as Mount Takao, is a popular place for local visitors longing for a hike in nature. Both seasoned and beginner hikers can enjoy the excursion, as the place is fully adapted for them, and it offers a pleasant walk through the Japanese mountain, close to Tokyo.
The most convenient way to enjoy the excursion is to take the Tozan cable car 🚙 at the foot of the mountain, as it will allow you to visit the most beautiful places in one day. You can also reach the summit of Mount Mitake by walking the dedicated hiking trails.
An authentic mountain village
When arriving by cable car, the first viewing platform offers a sight of Tokyo and its suburbs. When the weather is clear, it is even possible to see the Tokyo Skytree and Nikko Mountains. A souvenir shop, which also serves as a catering bar, welcomes visitors with a hearty breakfast before they begin the hike. A little bit further is Mount Mitake Village, which you can reach by walking or using the chairlift.
Mount Mitake Village is a lovely hamlet with houses built at various periods that was established on the mountainside. It is inhabited all year long. An information desk with local guides provides hiking maps and advice to travelers. Visitors can also eat and stay in the village. A stroll through the narrow streets really gives the impression of being in the countryside, thousands of kilometers away from Tokyo. Some of the buildings are marvelous, with their traditional roofs and lanterns 🏮 in the garden. A walk through the village also acts as a spiritual preparation for discovering the famous Musashi-Mitake Shrine.
A spiritual halt at the top of Mount Mitake
A long stone stairway leads to the summit of the sacred mountain, where the Musashi-Mitake Shrine stands. The well-maintained buildings of this Shinto shrine are finely decorated. Their sparkling red color makes them stand out in the landscape as remnants of ancient times. The shrine is undoubtedly a must-see when hiking in Mount Mitake. A small platform in the shrine’s precincts provides a stunning panorama of the surroundings. The path to the main building, surrounded by multiple shades of fall colors, is absolutely beautiful.
However, this is only the start of the journey, and it is strongly recommended to use the various hiking trails going through the forest. The shrine is indeed the hike’s real starting point for those who used the cable car and the chairlift to reach it.
A hike in the heart of the forest
The Nagao-daira platform, easily reached from the shrine, offers another astounding view of the area. Hikers can follow the trail along a stream of water that springs from the Ayashiro no Taki Falls. They will then reach the Rock Garden.
The enchanting path meanders between trees, and big stone steps help hikers cross the water several times. Hikers should be careful not to be distracted from their walk by the soft sounds of the streaming water and the birds’ singing. The walking trail is indeed quite irregular, and the roots and small rocks make it treacherous. It is advisable to wear sturdy walking shoes to allow a good grip on the ground.
At the Rock Garden, with a little bit of climbing, visitors can see two Tengu 👺 statues standing at the top of a small hill. It is also possible to rest here. Along the trail is also a little waterfall, and the wooden torii ⛩️ gate that rises above it is a reminder of the site’s sacred nature.
The Mount Mitake hike is pleasant, especially in autumn, when the maple leaves 🍁 turn red. There are several places to rest and eat along the walking trails, as well as toilets 🚽 (with varying degrees of cleanliness). The most beautiful parts of the visit are the village and the trail to the shrine.
Once back to Mitake Station, we recommend a hike in the Tama River Gorges beneath the mountain. A suspension bridge offers a nice view of the valley. It also gives access to the small Gyokudo Art Museum, specializing in Japanese paintings, and its nice dry landscape garden. Visitors can thus make the fullest of this one-day trip in the Ome area, with its several places of interest.