Let’s Tour: Western Tokyo’s “backcountry”

ByJason Gatewood
Jul 01, 2020

Let’s Tour: Western Tokyo’s “backcountry”

I’ll be the first to admit that 2020 has not been kind to we who like to explore, trek, and wander outdoors. We’ve all become more adept at video conferencing apps, picking out the most stylish face coverings, and knowing which restaurants in our area. But nothing can replace the feeling of getting out into the world, smelling the freshness of the air, hearing the sounds of nature, and feeling the warm sun on our faces. And while there were no hard lockdowns in Japan as seen in other countries, we practiced a form of self-restraint called “jishoku 自粛,“ with most of us wearing face masks in public, avoiding crowded enclosed spaces, and telecommuting. One thing especially encouraged right now is going outdoors to have fun. To that effect, I’d like to introduce some little known places around Greater Tokyo to enjoy being outside, starting with the Akurino region of western Tokyo Prefecture.

Hossawa Falls

Located almost an hour and a half west of Shinjuku, it’s hard to believe that you’re still within the boundaries of Tokyo Prefecture! It’s also in the middle of the Akiruno Recreation Area, so feel free to bring some camping gear if you’re inclined to spend the weekend as there are campgrounds in the vicinity. The fa

Minamisawa Ajisaiyama

Located about 30 minutes to the west of Itsukaichi Station (or a quick 8-minute taxi ride), is a flower garden that one man started on his own that has grown into the acres-upon-acres sight that you see today. Filled with many trees and creeks, it’s a must-do if you are a bird watcher or have a green thumb.

Mazukari Ridge

The mountains surrounding Hossawa Falls are part of the Mazukari Ridge, a chain of foothills that give way to the more mountainous central backbone of Japan. The many trails you find around here lead to limestone caves, historic shrines, and scenic views of Mt Fuji and Tokyo’s impressive skyline. Trails are beginner rated, and only weather appropriate clothing, good outdoor shoes/boots, and a backpack with drinks/snacks for the hike are needed.

About the author

Jason Gatewood editor

Our Tokyo based collaborator is a tech nerd, Japanophile, train nut, and a veritable fountain of information on Japan. His current goal is to watch Evangelion and actually "get it", sing every permutation of "Hotel California" at any karaoke gathering, ride every bullet train line, and sample all varieties of ramen throughout Japan. Catch more of his musings at · http://jlgatewood.com