Easily accessible via train from central Tokyo, yet tucked away high up in the mountains, Okutama provides a rustic, scenic haven away from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis, thus making it perfect for couples who are looking for a peaceful, romantic getaway.
There are two lines that operate from Shinjuku to Okutama, the JR Chuo line and the Ome line, both of which will take you approximately two hours to reach your destination. On the weekends and holidays, there is even the additional option of the Holiday Express Okutama, which takes you directly to Okutama station in just one and half hours.
Once there, there is a wide range of activities for you to do, from hiking to fishing to relaxing in onsens.
For hiking and nature lovers, the best place to head to is the Hatonosu Valley (鳩ノ巣渓谷), which will definitely take your breath away as you stand in the midst of the jagged rocks and powerful gushing water cutting across the towering mountains. If you are worried about the intensity of the trail, have no fear, for the Otama Walking Trail is made for casual hikers to walk along the Tama River.
Hatonosu Valley is known for its gigantic, odd-shaped rocks and crags, and not forgetting, its beautiful waters. So do stop for a brief respite on the rocks when your legs tire from the hike, and slowly appreciate the jade green waters and lush greenery around the both of you.
After the hiking exercise, it would do your stomach some good for a well-deserved lunch break, and there are a number of traditional Japanese restaurants in Okutama. One of the lesser-known traditional Japanese cuisine we found was the “kamameshi”, which literally translates to “kettle rice”, that is, rice cooked in an individual size pot and served directly in it. The restaurant Hatonosu Kamameshi （鳩の巣釜めし）specialises in kamameshi, offering set lunches of rice and soup served in small claypots with an array of side dishes.
After filling your stomachs, you should head to the Nippara Limestone Cave （日原鍾乳洞）, the largest cave in the Kanto region. As it is farther up the mountains, you would need to take a 30 bus journey from the Okutama station (bus stop 1), followed by a 5 to 10 minute walk to reach the cave. The temperature here is a constant 11 degree Celsius all year round, making it a cool retreat in summer, and a warm sanctuary in winter.
As the caves are moist and slippery, with extremely low ceilings when you turn into certain corners, do take care of each other so that neither of you will fall or bump your head. After many twists and turns in the maze-like grotto filled with spiny stalactites and stalagmites, you will be rewarded with a grandiose view when the dark and damp tunnels open out into a dance of kaleidoscopic lights within a huge cavern.
When you ascend to the top of the stairs at the main chamber, you will come across the match-making Kannon (縁結び観音), so do take a moment to pray for blessings in your relationship with your significant other!
Finally, you can end your trip with a bit of shopping. What is there to shop for in the mountains? Precisely because Okutama is a mountainous region with fresh spring waters, wasabi is a local specialty here, with little shops sprinkled about the mountains selling this spicy delight. So don’t forget to buy some wasabi souvenirs back home as a sweet, and maybe just a little spicy, remembrance of your couple trip.