[From March Issue 2010]
Located in Tokyo’s Okutama area, this hiking trail traverses three separate mountains: Takamizusan (759m), Iwatakeishiyama (793m) and Sougakusan (756m). Despite their modest heights, hikers can still enjoy fine views of the Kanto plain, Mt. Tsukuba, the Nikko Mountain Range, and neighboring mountains including Tanigawadake on the Jouetsu boarder (between Gunma and Niigata Prefectures) as well as the Okuchichibu mountain area. Hiking the Takamizusan trail is an ideal introduction to other Okutama-area hiking trips.
The hike begins at Ikusabata train station, where 50 meters to the left of the ticket gate you’ll find a railroad crossing. About 15 minutes after crossing over you’ll come to the Hiramizo Bridge. At the bridge follow the signpost to the left and pass through a quiet mountainside village. You will then come to the Hiramizogawa Bridge. Cross it then and follow the “Tozanguchi” signpost to the beginning of the ascent.
Ten minutes after passing the landslide marker, you will see the Sabo Dam, where the road you are now traveling on becomes the trail. Crossing a stream, you will climb the mountainside that leads to a small waterfall, and arrive at “Kata no Kohiroba” – a tiny open space on the mountain’s shoulder.
But don’t stop to rest just yet, for a little further along are some benches and a nice view from Rokugome – the sixth of this mountain’s ten stage ascent. About another 30 minutes up a log stairway is Joufukuin Temple. Rebuilt in 1822, the main building offers various sculptures of lions, elephants and dragons. And while the peak of Takamizusan is located just behind the temple surrounded by trees, with no view to speak of, you can still greatly enjoy the changing colors of maple trees during the autumn season.
The trail then descends northwestwardly down a steep slope towards Iwatakeishiyama. Flattening out, you can now view from a distance and to the right, the dome-shaped peaks of Nikko’s Nantaisan, just over the mountains of Okumusashi. Then, at the foot of Iwatakeishiyama the trail splits in two, with the right trail leading upwards towards the peak where the mountaintop commands a full view of the Kanto plains and Bou no Oreyama. For a short rest there are benches at the summit.
Lined with rocks, the trail then meanders southwest towards Sougakusan. Passing through a reforested area, it climbs to the flat hilltop, where Aoi Shrine, dedicated to Okuninusi no Mikoto, stands. After descending the Sougakusan’s southern face, the trail continues along the ridgeline eventually doubling back through the reforested area. You will eventually find yourself walking along the Ome Kaido Street towards Mitake. The Mitake train station is located on your right.
Text: YAMAMOTO Masanori