Okutama is a lush, forested escape that is the perfect day trip from Tokyo. The mountainous area has waterfalls, plenty of hiking trails, and ancient Shinto shrines for you to explore.
I visited Okutama several times and every trip I was amazed by how distant it feels from Tokyo, even though you can get there via a direct train from Shinjuku Station. The Tama River runs through the area and its bright blue waters against the deep green forest provide an incredible backdrop for your day trip.
Okutama is the outdoor-lovers paradise: several of the hiking trails lead to waterfalls, you can kayak along the river, and take a dip in the fresh water. Additionally, you can see historic Shinto shrines and experience a glimpse of ancient Japan.
In this guide, I’ll share my recommendations about how to have an incredible day trip to Okutama.
How do you plan the perfect day trip to Okutama?
How To Get There
The best way to reach Okutama is by train. From Shinjuku Station, take the Chūō Rapid Line west toward Okutama. It will take around 2 hours to reach your destination.
Okutama has several train stops that you can take, depending on the exact location you want to visit:
- To visit the sake brewery, get off at: Sawai Station.
- To visit Musashi Mitake Shrine, get off at: Mitake Station.
- To go hiking, get off at the station nearest your desired trailhead (see my specific trail suggestions lower in this guide).
- To relax by Tama River, I suggest either to get off at: Sawai Station (and walk along the river near the brewery) or Kawai Station (and walk down to the water).
What To Do
Sawanoi – Ozawa brewery is a stunning sake brewery located on the banks of the Tama River. They have a large outdoor patio as well as a gorgeous indoor dining area with private rooms. You can order food along with a glass of sake or go for their sake tasting flight, which I really enjoyed.
This sake brewery is a great way to sample a variety of different brands and types of sakes while enjoying the scenic river view.
There is a walking path along the river that runs directly past the brewery, so take a pre- or post-sake nature walk while you’re out in Okutama.
Musashi Mitake Shrine
Musashi Mitake Shrine is a Shinto shrine in Okutama at the top of Mt. Mitake and has been a place of pilgrimage and worship for hundreds of years. According to legend, the wolf that was a servant to Yamato Takeru, a famous hero of ancient Japan, is enshrined here. As a result, many dog-lovers and their furry friends pay their respects at Musashi Mitake Shrine.
From Musashi Mitake Shrine, you have a few hiking trail options that take you to nearby waterfalls and forests.
Okutama is home to dozens of different hiking trails and paths for walking around in nature. I particularly suggest exploring:
- Okutama Mukashi Michi Trailhead
- Hikawa Gorge
- Unazawa Valley (Start from Shiromaru Station to begin this intermediate hiking to see three waterfalls. This website contains fantastic details about how to navigate the hike.)
- Mount Mitake (you can take the cable car or hike all the way up)
Tama River is a large river that runs from the mountains of Okutama to the Tokyo suburbs. Particularly in the hot summer months, Tama River is a popular escape for a cool breeze and a dip in the refreshing water. You can easily access its shores via short pathways leading down from the nearby roads.
I suggest two access points for the river:
- Sawai Station – walk past the sake brewery and down to the water. This option is generally a bit more crowded as it is more convenient to access the river from here.
- Kawai Station – cross the Okutama Great Bridge and take one of the small trails leading down to the river.
Bring a picnic (I recommend buying food in Tokyo as there are only a few small restaurants in Okutama), your swimsuit, and some towels to enjoy a fantastic afternoon by the river.
You can also kayak in the river during the warmer months. The travel group Tokyo Snow Club frequently hosts kayaking day trips to the area.
What To Eat
The food selection in Okutama is somewhat limited and the availability varies depending on which train station you get off at. However, like almost everywhere in Japan, the quality of the food is amazing.
Check out my recommendations of where to eat:
- Sawanoi – Ozawa brewery (sake brewery)
- Sawai Mountain Cafe (Japanese cafe)
- Cafe茶楽 (Japanese cafe)
- Kawai Sushi (sushi)
- Earth Garden (Japanese-style burgers)