Distance: 11.2 km
Elevation change: 228 metres
Highest point: 414 metres
Start: Miyanohira Station (Ome Line)
Finish: Higashi-Ome Station (Ome Line)
Loop Hike in the Ome Nagabuchi Hills
If you spread out the Okutama Yama to Kogen Chizu and glance to the far east, you can spot what is quite possibly the closest ‘real’ hiking trail to Tokyo at just over 40 klicks as the crow flies from Shinjuku Station. Enter Tenguiwa and Akabokko located in the Nagabuchi Hills 長淵丘陵 that form an arc on the boundary between Ome City and Hinode Town south of the Tama River. With the highest elevation barely attaining 400 metres makes great year-round hiking for all ability levels. What Akabokko lacks in height it makes up with a 200-degree panorama of the Okutama and Musashino area.
The hike kicks off from Miyanohira Station on the Ome Line around 1 hr 20 mins (820 yen) from Shinjuku Station. You can also approach from Hinatawada Station and pass by Umeno Park one of the best spots for plum blossom viewing in Tokyo. From the station go right along the Ome Kaido then turn left at the first traffic light and cross the Tama River. From the bridge it’s possible to make out a silhouette of the conspicuous tree on Akabokko. At the T-intersection turn right towards the Wadainari Shrine where there is trail sign signalling the way to Tenguiwa (2.8 km). You can either continue up this road or skirt around to the left as I did and use the alternate trailhead. Take your pick, as they meet further up. The hike is generally well signposted and easy to follow.
After passing the quaint Shinmei Shrine there is a short climb up to the ridgeline. Following a quick rest one option is a 30-minute round trip to Atagoyama 愛宕山 (394 m). The summit has a very old Japanese mountain cherry and apparently the view to the north is good in winter. Continuing east finds a steepish descent and Mt. Yougaisan 要害山 (414 m) an easily missed hilltop that happens to be the highest point. Next up along the undulating ridgeline is a short detour to Tenguiwa 天狗岩 that offers a nice view through Ome City.
A further 5 minutes from the trail junction brings you to Akabokko 赤ぼっこ (410 m). Famed for its lone hinoki (Japanese cypress) that juts out on a narrow ridge and views that stretch as far as Tokyo Bay, Mt. Tsukuba and Mt. Asama. Legend has it the mountain received its name after the Great Kanto earthquake where the top soil gave way exposing a layer of red loamy soil underneath. There is a third-class triangulation station along with a couple of judiciously placed benches to savour the magnificent view. For some unbeknownst reason the signpost is adorned with Makkuro kurosuke of Totoro ilk inspired stones.
When you’re ready to head off the hike for a period follows a perimeter fence housing a landfill. Thankfully the noise stemming from the facility is short lived. About halfway along is Umabikisawa-toge 馬引沢峠 and between here and Futatsuzuka-toge 二ッ塚峠 are some fine specimens of konara (jolcham oak) and Japanese mountain cherry. At the trail fork carry on in the direction of Yoshino Kaido 吉野街道. Here begins a gradual descent to a paved road before continuing the Nagabuchi hiking trail 長淵ハイキングコース. After reaching the upper Tenso Shrine 天祖神社 proceed down a long flight of stairs veering left onto the Akikawa Kaido for a 30-minute road hike across the Tama River to Higashi-Ome Station.