25 Places to Enjoy the Outdoors in Tokyo

Relax and Unwind at these Secluded Spots

With a population exceeding 13 million residents, the Tokyo Metropolis easily ranks as the most populous of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Area wise it lies third from the bottom, resulting in a limited amount of personal space for the average Tokyoite. Whilst this may invoke an image of a living hell – for anyone regularly commuting across town it surely does – the inner-city congestion is tempered with restful suburban green belts and areas of pristine nature on the city’s outer edges. Collectively these expanses of greenery offer a welcome respite from the bustle of the city as well as a place to escape to and explore on weekends.

Away back this blog touched on some lesser known places to visit in the Kanto region, this time we are confining our search exclusively to the Tokyo metropolitan boundary. The locations have been divided into eight categories (filterable), such as waterfalls, lakes, forests, campsites etc. but also includes some curious architectural anomalies on the city fringes. Okutama Town in the far western portion of Tokyo features most prominently with ten attractions, followed by Hinohara Village with four Hachioji City and with three points of interest. Some places are well trodden while others see only the occasional passerby. Importantly, the majority of spots are either free or have a modest entrance fee which is another great reason to go out and enjoy them for yourself.

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Koganei ParkKoganei Park is the second largest park in Tokyo after Shown Kinen Park. A popular park for viewing plum and cherry trees and also hosts the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum.
Showa Kinen ParkThis former military airbase is the largest park in Tokyo. Whilst there is a modest entrance fee (410 yen for adults), Showa Park has excellent facilities including an 11-kilometre bike trail and hiring a bicycle or tandem is a nice way to spend a leisurely afternoon.
Tamagawa Josui Nature TrailThe Tamagawa Josui is a 24.2 km long nature trail which stretches from Suginami Ward to Fussa City. It was originally constructed to supply water from the Tama River to Edo. The channel includes a diverse ecology and is a great place to enjoy some greenery in the city.
Tenguno FallsThe Tenguno Falls is one of three waterfalls which track along the pristine waters of the Senzoku River in Hinohara Village. These falls are relatively secluded and a great spot to get back to nature near Tokyo.
Hyakuhiro WaterfallThe 40-metre Hyakuhiro Waterfall is located in a remote corner of Okutama near the Nippara limestone cave. Give yourself plenty of time as a return hike will set you back upwards of 3 hours.
Hossawa FallsThe 60-metre-high Hossawa Falls has been designated as one of the ‘One Hundred Waterfalls of Japan’. The falls are an easy 10-minute walk from the bus stop following a well-worn path.
Odake FallsThe Odake Falls are 1.2 kilometres up the road from the Odake Cave with the last 300 metres veering off a hiking trail. The cascades are 30 metres high and given their seclusion means a good chance to enjoy them in peace.
Unasawa ValleyThere are few more beautiful places in Okutama than the Unasawa Valley. Along the Unasawa Creek finds three noteworthy waterfalls including the impressive Mitsugama Falls which holds its own amongst Tokyo’s finest.
Tama LakeTama Lake is set amongst expansive parklands in Higashiyamato City in western Tokyo. Encircling the lake is an 11.2 km bicycle path and the adjacent but less visited Sayama Lake is a popular spot for mountain biking.
Lake OkutamaAs the largest reservoir in Japan, Lake Okutama is an important source of drinking water for Tokyoites. Enjoy nature walks including the 9 km “Mukashi-michi” trail that stretches from Okutama Station to Lake Okutama.
Nippara Limestone CaveOn the outer edge of Tokyo finds Nippara Cave one of the best karst limestone caves in Japan. The cave extends over some 1,270 metres of which 800 metres is accessible to the public and takes around 40 minutes to fully explore.
Odake Limestone CaveA smaller limestone cave worth checking out is the Odake Cave along the way to the Odake Falls. The 300-metre-long cave was discovered in 1961 and to this day remains with the same family. The opening hours are irregular so best to check in advance.
Kanotoiwa RockTucked away in the sleepy village of Hinohara Village west of Tokyo finds the beautiful Kanotoiwa rock. There is a campsite nearby and makes for a nice side trip when visiting the Hossawa Falls.
Mount Jinba HorseOn the Tokyo / Kanagawa prefectural border finds Mount Jinba which is famed for a white concrete horse courtesy of the Keio (railway) Corporation. The mountain has panoramic views and is significantly less crowded than nearby Mount Takao.
Tokyo Peace PagodaThis seldom visited peace pagoda on Mount Odera overlooks Lake Okutama. Hiking up to the pagoda takes around an hour and provides scenic views over the lake and surrounding valley.
Shiromaru Dam Fish LadderSituated along a scenic stretch of the Tamagawa River only 10 minutes’ walk from Hatonosu Station is the longest fish ladder in Japan. Shiromaru Dam fish ladder drops some 27 meters over its 330-metre length and is accessible by means of an enormous spiral staircase.
Hachioji CastleWhile somewhat misleading as the site of the former Hachioji Castle now lies in ruins, it remains one of few castles in the Tokyo area. Along with the ruins the sprawling grounds mean there is plenty of forested and open areas to enjoy a picnic.
The Kurasawa Bridge (Kurasawabashi)The Kurasawa Bridge is a standard truss bridge spanning the picturesque Kurazawa Valley just down the road from the Nippara Limestone Cave and a short walk from the giant Kurasawa Cypress. The bridge was completed in 1959 and is the highest bridge in Tokyo at 58 metres.
Tokyo Citizen’s ForestThe Tokyo Citizen’s Forest created in 1995 is a good example of a sustainably managed recreational area near Tokyo. The popular 20-minute walk to the Otaki Waterfall is one of Japan’s growing number Forest Therapy Roads. With a little more time it’s possible to make a longer hike to nearby Mount Mito.
The Kurasawa Japanese CypressThis remarkable tree in Okutama traces its ancestry back around 600 years ago, though some have estimated its age closer to 1,000 years. Either way, the Kurasawa Japanese Cypress is the largest of its kind in Tokyo and was designated as a natural monument by Okutama Town in 1983.
Mount KumotoriMount Kumotori claims the highest point in the Tokyo metropolitan area at 2,017 metres (6,617 ft). Hiking to the summit is generally undertaken over two days with a stopover at the Kumotori mountain lodge. Views from the summit are quite spectacular on clear days.
Mitake Tozan CableThe popular Mitake Tozan Cable has a high vertical rise of 424 metres saving a good hour of walking time. The cable cars correspond to the arriving buses from Mitake Station. Be prepared for hefty crowds during weekends and public holidays.
Takao ChairliftA fun and romantic alternative to riding the Takao Tozan Cable is the nearby chairlift which takes a leisurely 12 minutes to ride up Mount Takao.
Hikawa Camping GroundThe Hikawa campground is located a short 5-minute walk from Okutama Station, around 2 hours travel from central Tokyo. Like many popular camping areas in the Kanto Region it sees plenty of day trippers. Meals can be had in the cafe or cooked in the designated BBQ areas.
Jonanjima Beach Park Camping GroundThe Jonanjima Seaside Park in Ota Ward is one of two camping grounds located within the special 23 wards of Tokyo. Along with a BBQ area, the artificial Tsubasa Beach and boardwalk its proximity to Haneda Airport makes it a perfect place to checkout low flying aircraft.

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