Just a mere 60 kilometers west of Tokyo, and just a short 90 minute jaunt from Yokohama or Shinjuku lies the 1,600 meter hiking paradise, Mount Oyama. Located in Kanagawa, it is hard to believe that a serene landscape such as this is so close to the city. As much as I love Tokyo, it’s easy to see how essential escaping it would from time to time if you lived there long-term. Even though it’s not as popular as Mount Takao, Mt.Oyama is also well-known for being both a spiritual power spot and a great place to break a sweat.
Twice the height of Mount Takao and situated in the Tanzawa-Oyama Quazi-National Park, one can easily spend the day hiking among the beautiful foliage (especially during the fall season…the Japanese maple leaves are just gorgeous!), picnicking, exploring temples + shrines, and taking in some crazy lush panoramic views (maybe even from the summit, too, if you luck out with a clear day!). Sound good?
Even if you aren’t super gung-ho about the whole hiking thing or are just a little short on time, fear not, the mountain is also home to a cable car that will take you halfway up. You can probably guess we opted not to take the cable car, so unfortunately our insights regarding this option will be somewhat limited. BUT, it’s an option!
On the other hand, if you’re sitting over there thinking this might just be a hike that you may want to tackle with your crew – awesome!! Just keep in mind that Mt. Oyama is also known as “Rainfall Mountain,” so make sure to check you fav weather app before you head out. We fortunately didn’t run into any crazy weather like we did when we hiked Mt. Mitake on the day we tackled our adventure, but we always pack our rain gear if there is even a remote possibility of rain in the forecast. We’ve linked our fav rain jacket and go to rain pants for you if you’re in the market.
Getting to Mt. Oyama
Car: It takes just two hours without tolls to drive from the Yokosuka area to Mt. Oyama (just over 100km). Parking once there is fairly simple and runs about 1,000yen.
Once parked, you’ll want to begin to head to the Cable Car Station regardless of whether you plan on hiking up the mountain or taking the cable car. This short stint is referred to as the Koa-sando Approach and is made up of 362 steps and takes ~12 minutes. Shops and restaurants line the route as you make. your way towards the cable car station. Enjoy!
Train/Bus: Take the train via the Odakyu Line to Isehara. Once at Isehara Station, look for the signs for Oyama (大山). Following the signs, take the stairs down and walk out of the north exit and to the bus stop. Here you’ll want to get on bus #4, the Kanagawa Chuo Kotsu Bus, which will take you on a ~25 – 30 minute ride to the base of Mt. Oyama (the very last stop). After disembarking the bus, begin by walking uphill looking for the signs for the Oyama Cable Car Station (this is about a ~12 minute walk uphill that includes 362 stairs.
Oh, yes! One more thing…No matter if you’re taking the bus or driving and parking, you’ll need to ascend the Koa-sando Approach. Mt Oyama is well-known for wooden “koma” (spinning tops), so see how many you can find on the way up to the cable car station! Our kiddos loved this simple activity!
Let’s talk discounts! If you’re coming to hike Mt. Oyama from Tokyo there is a discount ticket that you can purchase called Tanzawa-Oyama Freepass which you can purchase at Shinjuku Station at one of the Odakyu Sightseeing Centers. The pass will include the train, bus, and cable car, however, if you’re planning on hiking up it may not be worth the cost.
*When you arrive, you’ll see the Oyama Tourist Information Center. Make sure to snag a free map!
Cable Car v. Hiking
You’ve arrived at the Oyama Cable Car Station, now what?! Well, you need to figure out if hiking or riding the cable car up is in the cards. Most likely you’ve already decided this before you left the house, but just in case we figured we might help you make the decision!
The day we chose to hike to the summit we started our ascent around 1300 (errr….maybe a smidge after). All the signs we read advised that we should start before this, but we didn’t and it turned out just fine (I will mention that it was getting dark as we neared the base of Oyama). So, in short, if your not super into hiking and or think you may be moving a bit on the slow side either consider beginning either before 1300 or taking the cable car up to the halfway point.
As mentioned previously, if you aren’t looking to break much of a sweat you can opt to take the Oyama Cable Car up to Oyama Afuri Shrine instead of hiking. However it is important to note that taking the cable car does not eliminate all the stairs. Once you disembark the cable car, you’ll technically only be halfway up the mountain (678m).
Hiking: The Ascent
First Part: Base of Mt. Oyama → Oyama Afuri Shrine
If you opt to hike the mountain instead of taking the cable car up after you pass through the stone promenade lined with vendors and come to the Oyama Cable Car Station you’ll need to make a decision on which trail to take up. The “women’s trail” (Onna-zaka trail) or the “men’s trail” (Otoko-zaka).
The women’s trail is less steep and features “seven wonders” which are power spots along the way. Additionally, it will take ~20 minutes to reach Oyama-dera Temple (Buddhist Temple) and then an additional 20 minutes to Afuri Shrine.
The men’s trail on the other hand is steeper and considered by many as more challenging. Unfortunately, if you choose this route you’ll miss Oyama-dera and will meet up with the “women’s trail” at Afuri Shrine taking ~30 minutes.
Our family chose to ascend the “women’s trail” due to the opportunity to check out Oyama-dera Temple and experience some of the “power spots.”
If you elect to hike the Onna-zaka Trail (“women’s trail”) you’ll first reach Oyama-dera Temple. Remember you’ll bypass this temple if you opt to ascend the Onna-zaka Trail (“men’s trail”). Here you will find a long, steep staircase which is lined with bronze statues of Fudo Myo-o, a Buddhist guardian diety. It is said that Priest Roben founded this temple in 755 A.D. when an eagle transported him from his community and placed him near Nara’s Todaiji Temple. A priest eventually saw the young boy and took care of him. Take note of the gorgeous maple trees here to as it is said that many of them were brought in from Kyoto.
After the temple, continue hiking approximately another ____ minutes until you arrive at Oyama Afuri Shrine. Once you arrive at Oyama Afuri Shrine Shimosha (the mountain’s shinto shrine), you will see the first part of the shrine (the second part is located at the summit of Mt. Oyama). The shrine was constructed to honor the god of sake, mountains and water, Tsumi no Okami (sounds like our kind of God!).
Although you aren’t at the summit (yet) you’ll be happy to know that here is where you will meet up with those from the cable car and the trail that you opted not to ascend. At this point you’ll be 678m up! After exploring a bit (and maybe grabbing a bite?) head up the stairs to the purification pavilion, Chouzuya where you can wash your hands and mouth before entering the shrine constructed in 97 B.C. Take a second and re-read that… 97 B.C.
Second Part: Oyama Afuri Shrine → Summit
If you choose to continue to the summit, take the trail to the left of the shrine and off you go! This section of the trek will take ~60 – 90 minutes, so make sure to be mindful of the time (don’t get caught on the mountain-side after dark).
You’ll follow the Shimosha Trail to the summit where the main Afuri Shrine (1,252 meters) is located. The trail although more difficult is very well-established. Often the summit is blanketed in cloud cover (as it mostly was for us), but on a clear day we’ve heard you might steal a view of Tokyo Skytree, the Sagami Plain, or maybe even the gorgeous Fuji-san! Ohhh…Fuji, how we miss you!
The Finale: Summit → Base of Mt. Oyama
The hike overall isn’t too terribly tough, however you will want to be mindful of the time and make sure that you give yourself ample time to make your way down to the base. Our kids usually do a great job, but sometimes need a little extra motivation and a handhold can help our children keep pace (after all who really wants to be stuck on the mountain after dark?).
- Hours: 24/7
- Admission: No admission
- Parking: Approx. 1000 Yen
- Hours: 0900 – 1700, weekends and holidays; 0900 – 1630 on weekdays
- Admission: 630yen/Adult (one way), 1000yen/Adult (round trip), 320yen/Child (one way), 500yen/Child (roundtrip)
Cable Car Tip: Cable car departs every 20 minutes. As always, be mindful of when the last one departs, so you don’t get caught on the mountain after dark! Although we didn’t get caught after dark on our hike down this go-around, we always pack our Black Diamond headlamps in our pack just in case! Our kids love wearing them and they definitely give us a little piece of mind.
Enjoy the Trails,
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