Chichibu-Tama-Kai is the least visited of the national parks within easy striking distance of Tokyo. With eight peaks over 2000m scattered over 1250 km2, there are plenty of hiking opportunities and ancient shrines to visit.
Flora and fauna
The most popular access route is on the Seibu Chichibu Line (西武秩父線) from Ikebukuro in Tokyo to the terminus Chichibu station (75 minutes, ¥1370 via limited express).
For access to the Oku-Tama region, take the JR Chuo line to terminus Ome (75 minutes), transferring at Tachikawa if necessary. From here, transfer to the Ome line; a trip to (eg.) Mitake station from here takes 20 minutes and costs ¥890.
As the region is best known for its hiking, the recommended way of getting around is on foot.
- Hashidate Stalactite Cavern.
It is possible to hike Mitsumine and Mitake either separately as day trips, or as a full day's hike along the trail connecting the two.
- Mount Mitsumine (三峰山). Home to the 2000-year-old Mitsumine Shrine (三峯神社 Mitsumine-jinja, ) on the summit of this fairly tame 1100m mountain. The easiest methods of access are via cable car from Chichibu Railway Mitsumine-guchi (¥ 950/1650 one-way/return, every 30 min from 9 AM to 4:30 PM) or direct bus from Seibu Chichibu station (¥900, 5 daily). Still, you may find it more rewarding to hike up (or down), there are some nice views and waterfalls along the way and you can pop in at the shrine ryokan Kounhaku's onsen baths for a refreshing dip afterwards (¥500).
- Mount Mitake (御岳山). Follows a very similar pattern, with the Musashi-Mitake Shrine (武蔵御嶽神社) up top. Take a bus from Mitake station to the Mitake cablecar (10 min, ¥270), then the cable car up to the shrine (¥1090 return).
There are a number of basic food stalls and tea houses on the short trail connecting Mitsumine-guchi to the cable car station.
- Kōunkaku (興雲閣). The restaurant on the ground floor of the shrine ryokan offers basic meals of noodles, curry rice and such.
- Shōkyōin (小教院). Built in 1739, the Small Teaching Hall on the grounds of Mitsumine Shrine now offers tea, coffee and snacks in the ¥500 range. Try the local shiso (parilla) juice if you feel daring.
- Kōunkaku, ☎ . A ryokan operated by Mitsumine Shrine, located in the large modern concrete building smack dab in the middle of the grounds. Basic onsen baths included. ¥10,000 with two meals.