Aug 12, 2018
A popular, and easily accessible hike in Tokyo is Mt. Mitake and the nearby Rock Garden. When combined with nearby Mt. Hinode, you have a pleasant day of hiking ahead of you. This hike, while popular, especially the Rock Garden section, does not come close to being as crowed as Mt. Takao.
The full hike is about 11km – 12km. I think my total walking time for the day when I most recently hiked here was about 6 hours and 30 minutes and that included time to visit a small museum at the shrine, an optional scramble up a boulder, stop for lunch, snacks, taking a lot of photos, talking to a couple along the way, etc. When coupled with an onsen at the end, it was an all-day affair. This hike is not technically challenging, and involves a lot of walking on forrest trails. There are restrooms at several points along the way, as well.
I started at Mitake Station on the Ome line. It takes about 90 minutes from Central Tokyo (Shinjuku) by train to Mitake Station, and is still technically within Tokyo. Upon exiting Mitake station, I walked across the street to the bus stop that is just before the 7-11 there. I took the bus from there to the cable car station. The bus schedule can be found here. The cable car up to the town around Mitake Shrine is fairly regular and I have never had to wait for long. If interested, the schedule for the cable car is here.
The cable car takes one up to an area with a few shops, a view point and, some maps.
View from top Cable Car Station.
Map from the cable car station to Mitake Shrine.
Map of the area with some of the sightseeing points briefly described.
After a few minutes of getting ready and looking at both the view and the maps, I headed off to my first stop, Mitake Shrine.
There are a couple really steep places along the road to the shrine. There are also a number of Ryokan along the way, and the tourist information center for Mitake. I have often passed it, but have yet to go in.
Finally, after walking through a shopping street with numerous soba/souvenir shops, I arrived at the entrance of the shrine.
This is a hike I have done a half dozen times, so I knew to watch for the demons in the stairs on the way up to the main shrine.
A bit of a small space for him.
Let me out!!
There are four of them in total. There are also interesting benches being "held up" by owls and kappa along the way up the stairs.
Finally, I arrived at Mitake Shrine, which is built at the top of Mt. Mitake (929m). It has recently been renovated and the colours are dazzling!
It is okay to walk back into the back area of the shrine, as well, where there are more, smaller shrine buildings and a view of a nearby mountain.
Nearby peak framed by a gate.
Inner shrines at Mitake Shrine.
After walking around the shrine, I paused at the small museum there and decided that since I was hiking alone this time, I would actually go in and have a look around. Entry was ¥400, and it was a very small place. Everything was in Japanese. There were some samurai suits of armor, swords, a few statues. This can be skipped and you will not have missed anything. I was interested since I have been so often before without stopping in.
From the shrine, it was time to head off to the Rock Garden. This is the main draw of Mitake. Before really getting ithere, I did do one optional turn-off to go to the look-out point that is just beyond the helicopter landing area. On clear days, there is a beautiful view from there. It was hazy this last time I went.
View towards the path to the viewpoint from the helicopter landing area.
The view from the viewpoint.
Then I was off to the Rock Garden trail. I opted to skip the trail to Nanayono Waterfall since I had been there on a previous hike and felt, given the summer heat, and my plan for the day, that I could skip it this time. The trail down and back to the waterfall can be quite steep, and one section after the falls has ladders to climb.
A tree I liked.
I soon found myself at the boulder named Tengu Iwa. You can, if you wish, use the chain and roots to climb to the top of the boulder to see the Tengu statues at the top. I decided I would do this this time, so despite my fear of falling (not heights, just a fear of falling), up I went.
The way up and back down Tengu Iwa.
One of the two Tengu statues placed at the top. There is also a small shrine at the top.
Tengu Iwa from the back side. The Tengu statue in the previous picture is at the tip of that point of rock on the right.
Having challenged myself sufficiently for the day, I then continued on into the Rock Garden itself. It is an area of forest along a stream. The trail goes beside the stream and back and forth over it. It is cooler than up by the Shrine and really quite lovely. Pictures really cannot capture it well.
I stopped in the Rock Garden to have some lunch and enjoy the sound of the water over the stones.
Then I continued on my way to finish hiking the Rock Garden. Just before where the path splits off from the stream, I passed Ayahiro Waterfall, a holy waterfall where Shinto rituals are sometimes carried out.
Soon after the falls, I passed a water point where I took a drink of the natural flowing water, before heading back through a wooded area.
Finally, I was back at the turn-off to the viewpoint again and from there went back through the town and followed the signs to Mt. Hinode. There is a section through town before getting back on a wooded trail, which starts next to a cemetery. It is well posted with signs.
Part of the walk to get to the trail to Mt. Hinode.
Finally, I was back on wooded trails headed to Mt. Hinode. It was a pleasant walk through re-planted cedar forest to get there.
I finally arrived at the top of Mt. Hinode. It was oddly deserted this particular day, though it was very hot, so that probably had something to do with it.
The top of Mt. Hinode (902m).
I took a break there and rested in the covered pavilion and had a snack of some miso-pan (miso bread), which I had bought back in one of the shops back just before Mitake Shrine. The view was not as clear as it is in late autumn, winter, and early spring. Due to the haze I was able to see much less. It the clearer seasons when there is less or no haze, in one direction, the mountains of Chichibu are very clear, in another, Mt. Fuji can be seen peeking out from behind a mountain, and one other direction, those with sharp eyes are able to see the buildings of Tokyo.
After my break, it was time to hike down to my final destination, TsuruTsuru Onsen. So, I followed the signs pointing me that way.
Sign at the top of Mt. Hinode.
Older sign along the trail pointing towards, and advertising TsuruTsuru Onsen.
So, I hiked down. It is a pretty long trail through replanted cedar, some of which had been recently cut. The last kilometer or so of the hike is along a road before getting to the onsen.
After enjoying a nice soak in the bath, I caught the bus from the bus stop right in front of the onsen back to Musashi-Itsukaichi Station on the Itsukaichi Line to begin my train trip home.
I am a hiker, walker, and abundant photo-taker. After spending my first many years in Japan in Tochigi, I relocated to Tokyo at the end of 2012. I love visiting the numerous temples, shrines, castles, and former castles that can be found in the mountains, rural areas, and tucked away within cities.