With its skies uncluttered by the skyscrapers and small “two-lane” roads winding through the hills, Akiruno’s natural views and valleys are still technically part of Tokyo, and the city is ripe for exploration on bicycle or foot. But if you really want to check off all the boxes, renting a car is the way to go.
First, let’s look at where to set up your “base of operations.” Japan’s place in the Ring of Fire does come with some sweet benefits—onsen hot springs. The Seoto-no-Yu spa is located right next to the scenic Akigawa Keikoku Valley via Ishibune-bashi Bridge and offers you private lodge accommodations surrounded by mountain scenery and fresh air. Of course, it’s a prime spot for visitors looking for a relaxing soak and is a popular destination, so book well in advance. If you just want to swing by and enjoy the hot spring itself, that’s alright as well!
*Please be aware that people with tattoos and/or other body markings are not permitted to enter the bathing area, regardless of whether staying overnight or visiting.
But if you’re looking to really get away from the go-to spots and want a truly private but premium-level “escape,” Akiruno has an answer for you. The WOODLAND BOTHY provides a glamping experience in Akiruno’s wilderness, complete with private chef preparing your dinner and breakfast. Just getting there is a bit of a trek, so you’ll know firsthand that you’re taking social distancing up a notch! For family getaways, the larger, Omine traditional Japanese-style house is also in the vicinity.
In keeping with our getaway theme, one reason to opt for a rental car (or bicycle) is to make the 8.5 km trip from the station to the somewhat remote Coquea cafe . Why? Because while the branch of a certain coffee chain overlooking Shibuya crossing is nice and all, having a cup of java or herbal tea surrounded by the quiet sounds of the Yozawa River and the air of the Japanese mountains is relaxation on a different level. The owner is also a moss expert and what you learn about the flowerless plant may surprise you.
Conveniently, the road leading to and from Coquea goes right by the Akigawa International Trout Fishing Ground . You can show up emptyhanded and rent the gear, so head to the water, nab some fish, and grill your lunch for the day!
Finally, it would be a missed opportunity to travel all the way to Japan and not have a crack at being a ninja with the Yajin “Modern Ninja” Experience . Like the original mercenary spies of Japan’s feudal era, try your hand at throwing shuriken stars and swordplay “in secret” away in the mountains.
Once you’ve taken in the scenery over a cup of tea, fished out some lunch, shuriken’d yourself out, and taken a dip in a hot spring, you’ve got to cap off the day with a full-course Japanese dinner! Created in a spectacular centuries-old estate, Kurochaya is a premium establishment offering traditional full-course meals that feature locally raised Akigawa-gyu Beef—Tokyo’s only brand of Japanese Black wagyu. The savory meal and unique atmosphere will surely rank among the top memories of your time in Akiruno.
You may also come across products fashioned by local artisans certified by the city under the AKIRUNO NO TAKUMI system , which recognizes people who have inherited crafting techniques and incorporate Akiruno’s natural environment, history, and/or culture into their work.