Distance: 9.2 km
Elevation change: 543 metres
Highest point: 793 metres
Start: Mitake Station (Ome Line)
Finish: Ikusabata Station (Ome Line)
Winter Escape On Tokyo’s Door Step
Many of the best hikes around Tokyo are situated along the Ome Line 青梅線 which stretches from Tachikawa to the town of Okutama. This hike takes in three mountains, with excellent views provided by Mt. Iwatakeishiyama.
Weekend and public holiday access are conveniently provided through the Holiday Rapid train service ホリデー快速 Holiday Kaisoku from Shinjuku, which makes stops at Tachikawa, Haijima, Ome, Mitake, and Okutama, among others. There are three services from Shinjuku, with the first departing at 07:44 and arriving in Okutama at 09:15. The train splits at Haijima, with the three front cars headed for Musashi-Itsukaichi, so it pays to listen to the English announcements to avoid disappointment. Alighting the train at Mikate Station 御嶽駅 there is a Visitor Center open from 09:00–16:30 (closed on Mondays), which provides a good variety of guides and maps. If possible, I really recommend picking up a copy of the Okutama Nature Information Map, 1:50,000 annotated in both English and Japanese. The Visitor Center also stocks handy B4-sized 1:25,000 topographical maps of the local area free of charge.
Weekends at Mitake Station are pretty packed, with most visitors heading up to Mt. Mitakesan. Exiting the station, you need to turn left, walk 60 metres, and cross the railway line where there are signs pointing to Mt. Iwatakeishiyama. Next to the trailhead, there is a small shrine that you pass by. The hike itself is well marked, and after an hour, the trail intersects with the option of heading directly to Mt. Takamizusan if desired. Heading up further, you pass Mt. Sogakusan 惣岳山 (756 m) which, although shrouded with trees, has some benches to rest on next to the Aojinja Shrine. The snow from last week’s dumping made the last section up to Mt. Iwatakeishiyama 岩茸石山 (793 m) a little treacherous with steep ice covered rocks. The view from the summit was pretty decent with glimpses of snow-capped Mt. Asama 浅間山 in Nagano Prefecture. After lunch, it was a short 30-minute walk across to Mt. Takamizusan 高水山 (759 m) and down to a snow-covered Takamizu-san temple 高水山常福院 which made for a prime photo taking opportunity.
The final stretch affords some good views towards Tokyo proper and the Skytree. After passing the dam wall the walk back to Ikusabata Station 軍畑駅 takes around 25 minutes, following the stream down. Just before you pass under the elevated railway line, there is an indistinct sign on your right pointing upwards to the station.