Family Fun / Uncategorized

Family Fun: Walking the Mitake Riverside Trail

The weather this past weekend was perfect, not too cold and with clear blue skies. The sudden severe chill of the end of last week has lifted and we’re blessed with what looks like at least another week of temperatures in the 50s (that’s Fahrenheit, remember 😉 ).

Taking advantage of that, my family and I decided to head out to the Okutama region of Tokyo to hike the Mitake River Trail. I had previously hiked the actual Mt Mitake with my parents earlier in the season but had passed on the river trail. This time, I had high hopes for a few autumn leaves still clinging to the trees.

As it turns out, the autumn foliage in Okutama is just as delayed as it is in central Tokyo and we were treated to a beautiful 90-minute stroll.

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Foliage along the river

The trail starts at either Ikusabata or Mitake stations and can be hiked in either direction. If you start at Ikusabata, you have a long downhill from the station to the river and then a half-mile (500 meter) walk along the road until you actually pick up the trail along the banks. At the Mitake end, the downhill is just as steep but much shorter and you pick up the trail almost immediately, at the bottom of the steps just down from the bus stop.

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The sign for the trail

The trail is paved in many sections and either dirt or slightly rocky elsewhere. It has zero to minimal elevation, but there are a handful of bridges that younger children may need some assistance on.

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The trail is quite flat

Usually, we’re the type to pack an onigiri picnic and eat it along the river or trail, but today we left late enough to not have time to pick up lunch. Luckily, there are no shortage of eateries along the short stretch, ranging from an upscale tofu restaurant to several soba shops and cafes. We found our sustenance right in front of Sawai Station (the station in between Mitake and Ikusabata) where there is a large picnic area and a food stall serving yuba soba and curry udon, as well as edamame and some other snacky foods.

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The picnic area next to Sawai Station

Our four-year-old is a practiced hiker at this point, so this trail was a breeze for her. Halfway through, my husband and I were lamenting having worn our hiking boots, as sneakers would have more than sufficed. But despite the lack of challenge, we completely enjoyed the scenery along the path and there are plenty of opportunities for kids to play along the water’s edge.

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A great place to climb on the rocks

Getting to the Okutama area is fairly easy from central Tokyo. For the fastest route, take a special rapid service train from Tokyo or Shinjuku to Tachikawa and on to Ome (some trains continue on to Ome and in other cases, you need to switch to keep going). In Ome, switch to the Ome line and get off at either Ikusabata or Mitake.

12 thoughts on “Family Fun: Walking the Mitake Riverside Trail

  1. This is my favorite place in Tokyo I try to visit every year.
    I love love love it!!! 🙂
    Did you visit a garden on 28? Did you get a special present?

  2. Thank you. Nice timing! My partner and I are returning to Japan in late April and Mitake has come up on a few posts as well worth visiting. I looks lovely, and the cafe beside the river looks sensational.

    You also mentioned the Gyokudo Museum. Is that worth visiting?

    • Hi Tony,
      The path itself, while no strenuous or even sweat-inducing hike, is a lovely stroll and a gorgeous area. The museum was a little bit disappointing to me. I enjoyed the scroll paintings featured, as some of them highlighted the Mitake area and showed the foliage, but I didn’t feel the garden (a raked rock garden – karesansui style) was anything spectacular. Which surprised me, as the garden is ranked as #13 in the top 50 gardens of 2014 (by the Shiosai Garden Project which ranks many gardens in Japan). It was a brief visit and left me wanting more than what was offered.

    • Hi Mandy, Veronica and I got to Mitake in April. I haven’t written the story up yet, but we had a great day. After firstly heading up the Tozan railway we had ample time to stroll along the riverside. It is really a pleasant spot.

      We stopped for coffee at a small cafe within an artists residence beside the trail, just before the brewery. I will have to dig out my notes to find out the name. Will be subject of a post sometime!

      Thank you for the heads up.

      • Tony, it literally makes my day when you come back to report these things. 🙂 So glad this blog could steer you to an enjoyable day in Western Tokyo. I’d LOVE to have the name of the small cafe if you can find it. Sounds like a cool place for a cup of coffee. Hope you had a great trip!

      • Mandy, the cafe is ‘Aun’ and is the workshop and home of artist Ryujiro Oyabu. There is a very small sign along the railway side of the trail, and the gate goes through their backyard literally to inside the back of the house to this large open area looking over the river.

        We had a very short chat with the artist’s partner who made out tea and coffee. Then I think the kids came home!

        Tony

    • Unless your kids are under 3 and you don’t have some sort of carrier for them if they get tired, I’d say this is an ideal walk for kids. It’s mostly flat, has places where you can stop along the water to play in the shallows or skip rocks. I’d recommend sneakers or some sort of decent shoes but it’s not a difficult path.Plenty of places to stop for a bit to eat along the way as well.

  3. Pingback: Cafe Aun quiet beside the Tama River | Having a ball in Japan

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