Travellers in Japan can easily be overwhelmed by the urban jungle of Tokyo. However, the neighbouring Kanagawa prefecture, offers countless natural attractions with quick and easy access from the city. Take an adventure up to Mount Oyama to be enchanted by views of the surrounding National Park.
The 1252 metre-high Mount Oyama is part of the Tanzawa-Oyama Quasi-National Park, and is one of the most accessible hiking spots from central Tokyo. It’s sure to be worth it, even being awarded one-star in the 2015 Michelin Green Guide. Many Japanese believe that deities live on this mountain and it attracts not only hikers but also those journeying for religious purposes.
The recommended seasons to visit are from April to October when there are night-time illuminations of the crimson trees. It takes 4-5 hours to hike to the top, making it a great daytrip for those who need a break from the crowds of Tokyo. The easiest access point is from Isehara Station, which is just under a 60-minute train ride from Shinjuku Station.
Shrines and Temples on the way up
In addition to hiking up the mountain, visitors can take a ride on the Oyama cable car and overlook the greenery while ascending the mountain. Riding the cable car also allows tired hikers to rest and avoid the most strenuous upward trails.
The cable car also stops mid-way allowing for a visit to the religiously historical Oyamadera Temple. The stoned pathway leading up to the temple has a range of souvenir shops and restaurants that are a great side-stop.
At the end of the cable car, near the mountain’s peak awaits Oyama Afuri-jinja Shrine. Oyama Afuri-jinja shrine has a 2000-year history and is dedicated to the gods of sake, mountains and water. On a clear day the view from the shrine grounds can stretch out to the nearby Enoshima Island in Sagami Bay.
The shrine has the Oyama Himatsuri Takigi Noh festival which is held in early October of each year. People who attend are able to see Noh performed at night by an open fire, continuing the Shrine’s 300-year-old tradition.
Enjoy the local dishes on offer
The production of much of the local specialities pivot upon the fresh spring water from the region. Examples of these are tofu, konnyaku jelly, and sake. Oyama itself is famed for tofu, and even has a tofu festival every March. The rest stops on the mountain provide a great opportunity to try some simple Japanese dishes such as udon and yakisoba noodles, and also to regain some stamina for the remainder of the hike. When at Oyama Afuri-jinja Shrine you can visit the mountain Teahouse Sekison, and enjoy a good coffee or their matcha tiramisu while enjoying the view from the mountain top.
There are also some of restaurants in the town below that offer the traditional cuisine of Buddhist vegetarians – shojin ryori. These consist of a variety of tofu dishes producing a whole range of flavours.
From Odakyu Isehara Station you can take a Kanagawa Chuo Kotsu bus to the Oyama Cable bus stop.
*When hiking, please make sure to wear appropriate footwear and avoid hiking in the rainy season.