Autumn Adventures: The Fall Colors of Lake Okutama

You may be familiar with Mt. Takao, the closest and easiest hike near Tokyo. If you’ve experienced all that Mt. Takao has to offer, it’s time to go deeper into the mountainous Okutama region. A mere 90-minute train ride from Shinjuku Station, Lake Okutama is an accessible escape into nature with scenery and activities that everyone can enjoy.


Getting there

Reaching the trailhead for the hike couldn’t be easier. On weekends, you can catch the Holiday Rapid Okutama, a special train that runs on the Chuo Line. This train will take you directly from Shinjuku Station to Okutama Station, the end of the line, without having to make any transfers. From there, look for the Okutama Historical Road (Okutama Mukashi-Michi). If you have trouble finding the starting point, you can always ask the staff at Okutama Station.

If you see these Jizo statues near the beginning of your hike, you’re on the right track.

Initially, traveling along Okutama Mukashi-Michi is a relatively casual affair. Portions of the route are paved and you’ll even pass through a quaint neighborhood. Eventually the pavement and neighborhoods fade away into a proper hiking trail, and before you know it, you’ll be trekking through a forest filled with vibrant green, golden, and crimson hues.

Ascending to Ogochi Dam

As you continue along the 10-kilometer trail, you’ll start to gain altitude and catch glimpses of your goal: the historic Ogochi Dam, the only thing separating you from Lake Okutama and its captivating surroundings. As you reach the summit and the home stretch of the trail, navigation can get a little tricky. However, there’s no need to worry—at this point the lake will be in view, and that will always keep you moving in the right general direction.

Plenty to do

Once you reach the end of the trail, your first order of business should be to swing by the Okutama Water and Green Friendship Hall (basically a visitor center and science museum) to take a break, stock up on supplies, and perhaps buy some lunch (unless you packed a bento). It’s also a good idea to check the bus schedule and plan your return trip to the station. (Or, if you have the energy for it, you can hike back the way you came whenever you please.)

Seasoned hikers may wish to continue hiking along the lake and in the surrounding foothills. If you’re lucky you may even see some monkeys!

For those fascinated with engineering and infrastructure, feel free to explore Ogochi Dam. You can go inside various sections and learn how Lake Okutama, which is technically still part of Tokyo, provides the city with fresh drinking water.

One of the exhibits inside Ogochi Dam, complete with obligatory mascot.

Alternatively, if you’re worn out from the hike, there’s nothing wrong with simply relaxing on a bench and taking in the panoramic view of the lake and its surroundings, which is especially splendid during the cherry blossom and fall seasons.

Lake Okutama during the cherry blossom season.

The perfect daytrip awaits

However you decide to explore Lake Okutama, all it takes is a day trip for a true adventure in nature—convenient yet far removed from the city. It’s a great option for tourists staying in Tokyo as well as locals looking for a place to explore repeatedly throughout the seasons. After you’ve tackled the many trails of Mt. Takao, Lake Okutama is the perfect way to continue exploring the vast mountain ranges just outside of Tokyo proper.

For smartphone users, please click the link below to go to the Tadaima Japan website which includes additional location details:

Autumn Adventures: The Fall Colors of Lake Okutama

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AUTHOR

Anthony

Anthony

Writer / Translator

Originally from Riverside, California, I've been living, working, and writing in Japan since 2009. Japan has become my second home, and I'm especially fond of Shinjuku, Tokyo. That being said, I also love getting out into the countryside and exploring the entire country. Through Tadaima Japan, I hope to share the wonders of Japan with a wider, international audience. Check out my articles if you enjoy exploring on foot, convenient cafes, and affordable dining.

Information

Address 198-0223
Tokyo-to,
Nishitama-gun,
Okutama-machi,
Hara 5
Hours 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Price Free
Close None
Access 15-minute bus ride from JR Shinjuku Okutama Station
Phone +81-0428-85-2731
Language Japanese
Website https://www.waterworks.metro.tokyo.jp/kouhou/pr/okutama/