Mt. Mitake (御岳山) – Part 1, getting there
Last Saturday (November 21), upon recommendation from a friend who had been there the prior weekend and upon seeing it is a featured fall “walk” in a guidebook we own, we headed west of Tokyo to Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park.
The above photo is of the Tama River (多摩川), from a bridge just a minute or two away from Kori Station (古里駅). This is were we began our walk. The fall colors were still nice, but they probably hit their peak at this location a week or two before.
This next picture is from inside the train near the Mitake Station. The train was actually packed on a Saturday morning, and most people got off at this station. We followed Day Walks Near Tokyo‘s advice and kept going to Kori Station. Some of the information in our book was dated and/or inaccurate. For instance, there no longer is a jiyukippu. Nor is it cheapest or fastest to go from Shinjuku and pay the 1992 price of 890 yen each way. Instead we went from Takadanobaba and paid 770 yen on the way there and just 600 yen on the way back (from Hinatawada), using a Seibu line instead of JR for much of the journey.
When we transferred trains at Haijima Station, we had a good view of Mt. Fuji. The above pic didn’t come out so great through the lined glass and with the power lines grabbing the focus, but you get the idea.
Be careful when relying on the information in Day Walks Near Tokyo. “Walking time” in the book seems to mean “running time,” and even though we gave ourselves 7 hours of daylight to do the 4 hour and 45 minute walk with breaks, we ended up in darkness for the last hour. For instance, the first part of the walk says it takes a total of 1 hour and 30 minutes. However, even before we finished it 2 and a half hours later, we saw a sign on the trail pointing in the downward direction saying it was 1 hour and 30 minutes to the start of the walk.
The book really doesn’t prepare you for the amount of climbing. Only once does it mention the trail being steep, even though you will encounter steep trails both up and down all day long. The last 2 hours and 10 minutes (from Mt. Hinode to Hinatawada Station) is described as “quite easy going.” While it is mostly downhill, you will be descending hundreds of steep steps at times and generally navigating a trail loaded with tree roots, ditches, and other obstacles. As we were nearly out of daylight, we almost jogged this part of the trail, without any rests, and it still took longer than the 2 hours and 10 minutes the book estimated. If you plan to follow this trail after the days grow shorter in fall, be sure to bring a headlamp and get to Kori Station by 9 a.m. Another complaint about Day Walks Near Tokyo by Gary Walters is that after the fact I found out, by looking on other websites, that the highlights of a trip to Mt. Mitake are the Rock Garden and water falls (two sets). The book didn’t mention water falls or the Rock Garden so we didn’t know to see either.
We did see and experience some really cool stuff, though, and the fall colors were beautiful. I’ll show you some more pictures in future entries.