Situated in the extensive Tanzawa-Ōyama Quasi-National Park, Ōyama boasts a variety of hiking trails with splendid views of Tokyo, Mt. Fuji and the surrounding area, not to mention the dense emerald forests on the mountainside itself. Natural beauty aside, Ōyama’s temples and shrines are also visually stunning, so it’s a good idea to bring your camera!
Visit a sacred place of worship
Standing 1252m tall, Ōyama is an imposing, pyramid shaped mountain which was historically revered as sacred. It is also known as ‘Afuri-yama’ (rainy mountain) and ‘Kunimi-yama’ (guardian of the land), since many people came to pray for rain and good harvests.
Getting to Ōyama is fairly quick and easy; it takes less than an hour to get from Yokohama station to Isehara station, changing at Ebina to the Odawara line on the way. It will cost around 540 JPY (approximately US$4.40) to get there, so it’s great if you’re traveling on a budget. From Isehara station, you can take a special bus to the foot of the mountain which takes about half an hour. There is also a pleasant delicatessen just outside the station if you feel like buying a picnic lunch to eat outside. This is also more economical than eating at a restaurant. Once you reach Ōyama, you’ll want to take a map of the area from the Information Center before making your way up to the cable car station.
Browse colorful local handicrafts and souvenirs
On the way to the cable car station, you can find the famous ‘Koma sandō’, a charming traditional shopping arcade specializing in locally produced items and souvenirs. ‘Koma’ means spinning top, which is one of the items that Ōyama is famous for, and you can find these brightly painted toys in abundance amongst ‘kendama’ (cup and balls), masks and ‘maneki-neko’ (beckoning cats). If the thought of a long hike has made you hungry, the restaurants here serve another local specialty: tofu. Prices start at 1,200 JPY upwards (approximately US$9.70) and are usually around 2,000 JPY (approximately US$16.10). The dishes vary depending on the restaurant, but often 5 different tofu dishes are served. Not only are they delicious, they are also good for your health!
Hike through tranquil forests
Once you arrive at the cable car station, you’ll be able to start your hike. The ‘Otoko-zaka’ (men’s slope) to the right is great for experienced hikers, whereas the ‘Onna-zaka’ (women’s slope) to the left is a gentler climb. Either way, you will be able to visit the mountain’s two main attractions; the Ōyama Temple and Afuri Shrine.
From Afuri Shrine, the trail splits once more into two separate paths. The trail to the right will take you past Nijudaki Waterfall, and further up past Ikazuchi no Mine Ridge. The waterfall is a lovely relaxing spot, and watching the water course through the rocks is very pleasant. If you take the Honzaka trail to the left, your ascent will start with some steep and fairly uneven steps, and progress to a rather stony climb. It’s a good idea to wear comfortable walking shoes here, as there are a lot of loose stones and soil.
If you climb from the foot to the peak, it will probably take around 5 hours, depending on which trail you pick. Of course, if you are in more of a hurry you can always take the cable car up to Afuri Shrine. The cable car runs 3 times an hour and stops at Ōyama Temple on the way. It costs around 870 JPY (approximately US$7.00) for a round trip ticket to Afuri Shrine, and kids can ride half price. As well as being the easiest way to climb the mountain, it’s also great fun and the views are wonderful.
Be warned that the last cable car leaves at 16.30 (17.00 at weekends and public holidays). Queuing up from around 16.00 is advised, as during peak season you will have a 30-minute wait. In winter, however, there are often no queues at all!
Take a leisurely stroll around Afuri Shrine
Afuri Shrine was built during the reign of Emperor Sujin, the 10th Emperor of Japan and has long been regarded as a site of religious pilgrimage. It’s still popular today, with fall and the Golden Week holiday being the busiest times to visit. The Golden Week holiday starts from the end of April and lasts for about a week.
If you brought a picnic lunch, the rocks around the shrine are perfect to sit on and there’s also a great spot for photographing the view. You may also notice the ‘Shishiyama’, a statue of lions climbing a lump of rock, which is surrounded by statues of the 12 signs of the Asian Zodiac. Pick your favorite and take a picture!
Try the pure spring water!
What better way to cool off after an energetic hike than to sample Afuri Shrine’s famous natural spring water? Just to the left of the main part of the building, you’ll come across a mysterious looking low door with a white sign above it. The underground passage within leads to a small pool filled with coins and a dragon statue. Here you can fill a plastic bottle with the water from the dragon’s mouth. The water tastes fantastic and is reputed to give long life to those who drink it. Although it’s not compulsory, it’s still a good idea to toss a few coins into the pool for good luck!
Take a Day off to visit Oyama!
Ōyama is a fantastic day trip for families, nature loving tourists, or anyone who needs to relax and de-stress. You’ll also be able to bring home some lovely photographs and souvenirs!
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