Branching off north from the Aki River, the Yozawa River snakes in between the mountains and is dotted by small mountain villages. This area has its own share of lures for those who enjoy time in (or under) the great outdoors.
Otake Limestone Caves
Wear appropriate footwear when exploring the caves as the ground can be slippery.
How about literally getting “underneath” Tokyo? About 520 meters up the base of Mt. Otake is where you’ll find the entrance of the Otake Limestone Cave.
Some 300 meters in length, it’s the longest limestone cave in the vicinity. Admission gets you a helmet to wear and for good reason—the ceilings are low, the pathways tight, and the ground can be slippery. So be ready for a little adventure as you meander your way through the cave. If it’s summertime, no doubt it’ll provide a welcome respite from Japan’s brutal heat.
The Tokyo Yozawa Moss Walk and Mossarium-Making
This walking tour will give you a close look at one of the Akiruno area’s most famous plants: moss!
Just off the road along the Yozawa River and sitting up on a small hill is where you’ll find Yozawa Coquea. What was once an abandoned house now functions as a small and cozy café, an arts and crafts center, and a gathering place for moss enthusiasts.
The walk takes you around the neighborhood to get a close look at the short, green, intricate plants in their natural habitat. There are some 70 different varieties in the Yozawa area alone, and seeing moss through a magnifying glass may very well surprise you with how different it looks and behaves.
If you want to just take it slow, help yourself to a plate lunch using organic veggies, finish it off with some herbal tea or green tea, and then let the time pass while gazing out on the calm serenity of a Japanese mountain village.
Getting to this hidden mountain escape involves a short climb of its own and entails a 20- to 30-minute journey through the forest. But the end of the path reveals your own private residence for a night with clean air, green surroundings, and quiet serenity.
Woodland Bothy operates on reservations only so it is an entirely private overnight experience for two or four. This is glamping after all, so you’ll have the luxuries of a hotel like king-size beds and a private bath with the feel of camping in the great outdoors. A chef is on hand to cook and serve dinner and breakfast exclusively for you, so you’ll be able to relax in every way imaginable.
If glamping isn’t quite your thing, up the same path to Woodland Bothy lies Omine, a 100+ year old traditional Japanese-style house.
Renovated while preserving the charm and atmosphere of old Japan, it offers a more affordable option with reservations for either a BBQ lunch on the engawa terrace or for an overnight stay (also with a BBQ and drinks) for 5 to 10 people.
Spend the day taking in the mountain air, feast on some delicious food, and go to sleep to the rustling leaves...