< Site for the foreign people residing in the suburb of Tokyo --- Updated on Oct 13, 2012 >
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Hello, folk! Hope you enjoy staying in Japan, although leaving your home land.
Do you know Hidaka city in Saitama prefecture? In the hilly side of the city there are many lovely spots, hiking courses and interesting places where you can spend a pleasant time with your family or on your own or, of course, with your loved ones.
You do not necessarily need to travel far from Tokyo area to discover and experience the Japanese culture, nature and people although there are of course, many other historical and valuable places like Kyoto or Nara which I also strongly recommend you to visit when you have enough time and money during your staying in Japan.
Hidaka city is situated geographically at the south-west edge of Kanto Plain and is rather close to the mountain areas such as Okutama or Okumusashi, where you could enjoy a few hours' walking or hiking in the mountains or across the countryside, or barbecue on the riverside. In this site I will introduce to you some of attractive places in Koma village(Koma-gou in Japanese) in Okumusashi district which is only about an hour's train travel away from Ikebukuro in Tokyo. This area is not yet so international and, consequently, a tour there may be a little bit adventurous if you can not understand any Japanese language. I am sure that this difficulty can be overcome by your little effort, mental and physical. It might be better for the first time, however, to go with a person having some experience of touring in Japan. Will explain in detail later how to get there. (Photo, right ;Cherry blossom in Shou-den-in Temple)
Ref. The link to the Ashbourne town website (Derbyshire, England) is referred to as Chap 16 in the contents list below. Ashbourne is a small town situated at the southern tip of the Peak District National park in England and is surrounded in a similar geographical and tourism conditions as Hidaka city, which includes a part of the Okumusashi prefectural park and is close to the eastern tip of Chichibu-Tama National park. Please visit the website if you are interested in the circumstances in other countries.
・Refer to Chapter 10 "Access to Koma village
area" for detail instruction.
・There are several access routes from the ICs
indicated in the map left; Kan-etsu express way,
Ken-ou-dou express way and an ordinary road,
・Please don't hesitate to ask any questions
on the contents of this homepage by an e-mail.
Contents - Sightseeing spots ;
Note. Refer to Hiking guide map(Chap 9) & Enlarged road map(Chap 10) for positions of these spots.
This is a name of the rice fields which are surrounded by the meander of Koma-gawa(Koma-river) and collectively form a shape of Japanese antique purse. Kinchaku-da can literally be translated like “purse-shaped rice fields” and has become popular because of its peculiar name. It should, however, be noted more as the superior irrigation system which ancestors there had devised.
Most of the rice fields have, now, been converted to those for other plants or left as wild grasses or flowers grow. They present the beautiful scenery from season to season. The forest surrounding Kinchaku-da shows the most beautiful scenery in late September to early October with a vast amount of red man-jyu-shage(cluster amaryllis) flowers. You may, however, be disappointed to see too many people walking around this area then and,furthermore,to know that you have to pay some admittance fee(200yen/person) only for this period. You can also enjoy a pleasant walk across the field or barbecue on the riverside in spring and autumn(except for the Manjyushage season) and bathing in the river just outside Kinchaku-da in summer season.
(Photo,Upper left ; Kinchaku-da in cherry blossom and in rape blossom, Left ; Cluster amaryllis on the bank, Right ; River and Ai-ai-Bashi bridge )
(Photo, Left and Right ; People enjoying barbecue on the riverside adjacent to Kinchaku-da )
This mountain is just 305 meters high and it will take you about 40 minutes or so to climb up to the summit from its start point which is situated 10 minutes away from Kinchaku-da.
(Photo,Left ; Hiwada-san over Kinchaku-da in the harvest season, Right ; Kinchaku-da seen from the mid point of climbing path)
There are two ways to get to the summit, a steeper one and a milder one called "Otoko-zaka" and "Onna-zaka" (literally mean male path and female path) respectively. You can enjoy beautiful scenery of Kinchaku-da and Koma village from the shrine halfway and the summit.
You can go down back to the start point easily, but can, of course, continue to walk and climb beyond the summit of Mt. Hiwada if you wish. The ridge is continuing further towards the west(Mt.Takasashi,Mt.Monomi,etc) as described in the following chapter 2.1.
(Photo, Left ; The steeper climbing path,"Otoko-zaka", in spring)
(Photo, Left ; The south view from the summit of Hiwada-san, Right; The symbol on the summit of Hiwada-san in autumn)
You can reach the summit of Mt.Monomi(375 meters high) in an hour from that of Mt.Hiwada,passing by Mt Takasashi on the summit of which the big antenna for TV broadcasting stands and is playing a role of the identification of Mt Takasashi. There is no steep climb nor dangerous path. You can rest yourself on the summit and enjoy the beautiful views of Hidaka city.
It will take you about one and a half hours to decsend down to Musashi-yokoye station via gojo-no-taki(Fall),which is not, unfortunately very splended when water flow is a little in winter. Musashi-yokote station is a next stop to Koma station.
(Photo, Left ; The Summit of Mt.Monomi, Right; Gojo-no-taki (Gojo Fall) in winter)
This temple was dedicated to a prince of the ancient Korean dynasty, "Jakkou" who had come to Japan in 7th century AD and been staying around Kanto area. He was, later, nominated to a Mayor of Koma county by the Japanese government then. There is his tomb in the Temple. This temple is also famous for the beautiful garden in front. The cherry blossom season(usually early spring) is the best to see as recognized by the top photo and the one below. The main building of the temple has recently been reconstructed, although it was a little bit pity to see the old one destroyed.
Please note an admittance fee(300yen/person) is necessary to enter the reconstruction precinct.
(Photo, Left ; The whole view of Shou-den-in Temple, Right; Pond in Shou-den-in Temple)
(Photo, Left ; The main building, "Hondo" on new year's days, "Shogatsu" in Japanese, Right; Tomb area of the prince,"Jakkou" of the ancient Korean dynasty)
This shrine is also very old and was founded about one thousand and two hundreds years ago. It is said that the prince, Jakkou, of the ancient Korean dynasty had visited and stayed in Japan with his people in 7th century AD as mentioned in the previous chapter. Because his country was conquered by Tang dynasty in China during his staying, unfortunately, he was made resign to go home and decided continuing to stay in Japan. He and his people taught various things to people here and gave great influences on them in many fields such as the silk production, agriculture etc. Then the Japanese government established Koma County and nominated him as a mayor of the County in 716 AD, recognizing his greatness. This shrine was, thereafter, founded and dedicated to him.
It is heartwarming and refreshing to wander on the country road from the foot of Hiwada-san through Koma-jinja Shrine via Shou-den-in Temple in early spring.(Same as Course A specified in Chapter 9) You would surely feel a start of natural lives of the year, pale green buds on the branches of trees, sound of birds, agile movements of small animals and so on.
In recent years many people come to this shrine to pray, especially for a new year. Autumn festival called Rei-tai-sai is also held in October every year when selected people dance in special costumes as shown in the photograph below.
(Photo, Right ; Entrance gate called "Torii" to Koma-jinja Shrine)
(Photo, Left ; Dancing in the autumn festival, Right; Festival ornament in front of the shrine)
There is a historical old house preserved in the backyard of Koma-jinja shrine. This used to have been inhabited by the Koma family and now, it is open to public for education. There are many kinds of Japanese apricot trees in the backyard and they are in full bloom in February and so beautiful. In addition, chrysanthemum flower contest takes place here in November.
(Photo, Left; a Historical Old House of the Koma Family)
Shirogane-daira is one of viewpoints for Hidaka city scenery and there is a watchtower on the top. The beautiful cherry blossom is also very attractive in this area in spring time.
This spot is, however, a little bit far from ones introduced in other chapters and may be difficult to reach on foot.
(Photo, Left ;Shirogane-daira, gateway to the Watchtower , Right; South view from the watchtower)
This is remains of housing foundation in the prehistoric period, the Jomon period (Neolithic age), about 4500 years ago which is almost same as an age of "Great Pyramids, Giza" in Egypt. It would not be so impressive unless you are particularly interested in the archaeology. As the remains are 7 or 8 minutes walk from Koma Stn., you can call at it when you start any of those courses mentioned in chapter 9. There is, unfortunately, no English explanation available.
(Photo, Left ; Remains of the Jomon era houses)
The prehistoric age is, as you may be aware, devided into two periods, one is named the paleolithic age(old stone age) and the other, named the neolithic age(new stone age). A transition point is, roughly speaking, about 13000 years ago in Japan. The first and the longest era of the neolithic age is named the Jomon era and continued approximately from 11000BC to 300BC. This era is characterized by a life style of hunting and fishing and by the primitive earthenware pottery with twined rope pattern, a corresponding Japanese word of which is "Jomon". After the Jomon era, the Yayoi era continued from 300BC to 300AD. This era is characterized by an agricultural life and the refined earthenware pottery which was found and excavated (first in Japan) in "Yayoi" town in Tokyo in 1884. According to the recent investigation and study, a starting point of the Yayoi era may ascend to about 900BC.
Many remains of the Jomon era have been found and excavated in this area, but it is no case that ones of the Yayoi era have been found in this area. Yayoi era's remains are found further in the east plains where climate and geographic features would have been more suitable for agriculture.
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Yokote Gorge is situated along Route 299 between Koma station and Musashi-yokote station. Five minutes walk from the road leads you to Yokote Dale where you can enjoy swimming and barbecue in summer and lovely colorful leaves of trees along the riverside in autumn. Although it may be a little bit awkward to walk along Route 299 which is rather busy with heavy traffic, it would be 15 to 20 minutes to walk from Koma station to Yokote Dale.
(Photo, Left ;Very calm water surface in the area of the wide riverwidth , Right; Suggesting the approach of autumn)
(Photo, Left ;Rapids? , Right; Color of maple trees gradually changing from green to red, via yellow)
Both mountains are situated in the south of Koma village, a little bit far from the spots mentioned above and on the way back to Higashi-hannou station if you walk back.
(Photo, Left : Tounosu-yama from the platform of the Koma station)
(Photo, Left : Road sign which instructs the direction(right) of Tounosu-yama, Right : The symbol on the Summit of Tounosu-yama)
Tounosu-yama is 270 meters high and Tenran-zan is 195 meters high and it will take you about two hours to walk from Koma station to Higashi-Hannou station which is situated at the east edge of Hannou city central area. The mountain path is pleasant and easy to walk and you could see Yokota air base from the summit of tounosu-yama on a fine day. The cherry blossom in spring and the beautiful colored leaves of maple trees in early November near the summit of Tenran-zan are very impressive. It may not be interesting, however, that you have to pass through the newly developed Koma residential area for the first 20 minutes before reaching a start point of the mountain walking and, furthermore you have to walk in the main street of Hannou city for the last 15 minutes before reaching Higashi-Hannou Station.
(Photo, Right; Mt.Fuji from the summit of Tounosu-yama)
(Photo, Left : The Skytree together with some skyscrapers in the central Tokyo area could be seen from the summit of Mt.Tounosu, Right : In winter Mt.Fuji covered with snow could be seen from the summit as well.)
(Photo, Left : The path to the summit of Tenran-zan, Right : The view of Tenran-zan(Left) and Nou-nin-ji-Temple Gate(right) from the parking area)
(Photo, Left and Right: The beautiful colored leaves of maple trees in Tenran-zan in November)
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There are many local and small temples and shrines scattered throughout Koma village. Each of those is so familiar to local people in the neighborhood that it could be a part of their lives through its yearly activities, such as new year's ceremony, spring festival and so on.
Will introduce some of those below just for your interest although they may not be appropriate as destinations of foreigners' tour due to complicated accessibility or insufficient attraction for a foreigner.
(Photo, Left ; The entrance gate, "Torii" to Yokote Jinja shrine, Right; Summer festival of Yokote Jinja shrine)
(Photo, Left ; The front of Tenjinsha shrine, Right; Spring festival of Tenjinsha shrine)
(Photo, Left and Right; Small shrine of Kitamuki-jizou on the mountain trail [ref]"Kitamuki" means facing north and "jizou" is one of gods in Buddhism)
(Photo, Left ; Nonomiya jinja shrine, Right; Sumo wrestling ring in the precinct of the shrine [ref] Sumo wrestling contest takes place in the festival of this shrine in September.)
(Photo, Left ; Reiganji temple, Right; Lotus flower in the pot at Reiganji temple)
(Photo, Left ; Manzouji temple, Right; Ryousenji temple)
(Photo, Left ; Suwa-daimyoujin shrine, Right;Dai-Takifudo temple)
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＜ The sumou wrestling competition in Nonomiya jinja shrine ＞
On the second Saturday of September every year the sumou wrestling competition dedicated to the gods is celebrated in Nonomiya jinja shrine. There is a sumou wrestling link called "Dohyou" in the precinct of the shrine. The link was founded in Edo period, about 200 years ago. Making use of it the competition is celebrated for elementary school children, boys and girls. Sometimes very exciting matches take place on the Dohyou and this event has now become famous throughout Hidaka city.
(Photo, Left ; The sumou wrestling link near the shrine entrance which was initially built about 200 years ago., Right ; Japanese drums are played between sumou matches for encouragement.)
(Photo, Left ; The sumou match starts with a sign by the refree. , Right ; A very tough match took place.)
(Photo, Left ; Girls who like the sumou, also joined the sumou wrestling every year., Right ; Sometimes a boy is defeated by a girl like this picture. He could be greatly shocked at the fact later.)
＜ The Hidaka citizen's spring festival ＞
(Photo, Left ; Awaodori dancing by Kawasemi-ren team performed in the Hidaka citizen's spring festival)
(Photo, Left ; Rape blossom festival took place in Kinchakuda in April)
(Photo, Left ; Ekiden competition of junior high schools took place in Hidaka municipal ground)
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The hiking guide map on the Koma village area and the adjacent areas is as shown below;
The above is a photo of the hiking guide map board fixed in the Koma station square, with my English translation added.
On the following three courses it is assumed that you come to the area by train.
Koma Stn (20 min)- Kinchaku-da(having a short look)-(5 min)- Hiwada-san(Start point) -(10 min)- Seiryu area- (45 min)-Shou-den-in-Temple - (5 min)- Koma-jinnjya-Shrine - (60
min)- Ai-Ai-bashi-bridge -(5 min)- Kinchaku-da(staying as you like)-(15 min)- Koma Stn
Some snap pictures taken along this course in early spring except for ones taken in the already introduced spots above are shown below;
(Photo, Left ; The house of local celebrity family, Right; The storehouse of the family)
(Photo, Left ; Choujuji temple and pink apricot flowers, Right; White apricot flowers near the Hiwada-san start point)
(Photo, Left and Right; Snap shots in Seiryu area)
(Photo, Left ; Seeing Hiwada-san from Seiryu-area, Right; Houses in Seiryu-area.)
(Photo, Left & Right; Footpaths in Seiryu-area)
(Photo, Left ; Typical scenery of early spring along the mountain footpath, Right; Nyoirindo temple on the road towards Shou-den-in Temple)
(Photo, Left ; Approaching to Shou-den-in from the west, Right; The storehouse, again, of the local celebrity)
Koma Stn (20 min)- Kinchaku-da-(10 min)-Hiwada-san (Start point) - (40 min)- The summit(Staying as you like) - (30 min)- Start point- (15 min)- Koma Stn
Snap pictures taken along this course in spring (May) are shown below;
(Photo, Left ; Turning corner to the start point of the climbing path, Right; The parking area near the start point)
(Photo, Left ; The first step to Hiwada-san, Right; Newly built toilet at the start area)
(Photo, Left; A family walking in the path, Right; A water point)
(Photo, Left ; Starting of Otoko-zaka, Right; Trees full of beautiful green leaves.)
(Photo, Left ; A small boy climbing with his parents, Right; There is a place for the exercise of rock-climbing apart from the normal climbing path)
(Photo, Left ; Observation point midway in the path, Right; Kotohira shrine)
(Photo, Left ; Rock-climbing(??) may be necessary, Right; Now close to the summit)
(Photo, Left ; Azalea in bloom along the path, Right; Lovely scenery from the summit)
It may be very pleasant to climb Hiwada-san in the morning and to come back to Kinchaku-da before noon and, then, to enjoy barbecue in the riverside of Koma-gawa(river) at noon. You could stay in the riverside or around Kinchaku-da hereafter in the afternoon as you like.
Koma Stn (50 min)- Tounosu-yama(Staying as you like)-(30 min)- Tenran-zan(Staying as you like)-(10 min)- Nou-nin-ji-Temple -(30 min)- Higashi-Hannou Stn
Snap pictures relevant to Course C are as shown in Chapter 6.
Note that the combinations of any two courses would be possible if you have enough time and stamina. And please note that you have to procure something to drink before starting mountain climbing in course B & C, and also note that you should enter the mountain area in the morning and get out of the area before becoming dark.
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The nearest station to Koma village is Koma station of the Seibu-Ikebukuro line that is the second stop in the local branch from Hannou station, up to which there is frequent train service from Ikebukuro. Getting out of the Koma station you can start a tour in accordance with the hiking guide map board.
You can drive to Koma area which is situated along Route 299 that runs from Iruma city to Chichibu city via Hannou city. The road map which shows a route from the south(Mizuho, Tokyo) to the area is as shown on the right and the enlarged road map for the vicinity of Koma village and Hannou city center is as shown below.
The numbers of the attractive spots which are the same as chapter numbers above are shown circled on the maps.
There are parking areas; in Kinchaku-da(500yen/day), at the start point of Hiwada-san(300yen/day), in Shou-den-in Temple(free), in Koma-jinja Shrine(free) and in Nou-nin-ji Temple(free) as shown below. No parking area is available in the Remains or at the foot of Tounosu-yama.
You can come and park your car in the parking area of Kinchaku-da, and walk to the other spots in Courses A and B. For Tounosu-yama and Tenran-zan it is better to take the opposite way to what is mentioned in Course C, because there is a parking area in front of Nou-nin-ji Temple which is mentioned in Course C. That is, come to Nou-nin-ji Temple first which is situated at the north-west edge of the Hannou city central area and, go to Tenran-zan and Tounosu-yama. Then, you may come back to the parking area on foot or,going to Koma station, may take train to come back to Hannou station, where you walk back to the parking area.
Parking areas are as shown as marked "P" on the left map.
Restaurants and Food Shops are also as shown as marked "R" and "F" on the map. Some introductory comments are described below for your reference. It's a pity, unfortunately, to mention that there would not be sufficient English language assistance in any of these restaurants as usual in any local ones in Japan.
R1 : "Suikame" near Koma-jinjya Shrine,Japanese style,closed on Wed.
R2 : "Chez Noix" turn left to the mountain side from the road between Hiwada-san & Koma-jinja,European,open 1200-2100.
R3 : "Alishan" near the bridge of Kinchaku-da,Organic & Vegitarian light meal,open 1130-1800.
R4 : "Shou-hei Udon" on R299 near Koma station,Japanese noodle shop.
R5 : "Fioretto" on the east side of Nou-nin-ji Temple and the backside of a convenient store,European light meal,open 1100-1700,closed on Tue.
R6 : "Coco's" near the railroad crossing in Hannou,Family Restaurant
R7 : Family Restaurant on the road to Higashi-Hannou station,
F1 : "Seven-Eleven" near the entrance to Kinchaku-da,Convenience store
F3 : "Time's" on the east side of Nou-nin-ji Temple & at the entrance to Tenran-zan,Convenience store
F4 : "Seven-Eleven" near the entrance to Azuma-kyo,Convinience store
F5 : "Seven-Eleven" at the intersection near Hannou station
Toilets are also as shown as marked "T" on the map.
T1 : at Koma-jinja Shrine
T2 : in Kinchaku-da(2 places)
T3 : at Koma station
T4 : in the park midway between Koma staion and Tounosu-yama entrance
T5 : in the middle between the summit of Mt Tenran and Nou-nin-ji Temple
T6 : in the parking area in front of Nou-nin-ji Temple
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Suggested by my niece who has two young daughters and sons I have decided to introduce here an impressive place called Akebono park, which must be very attractive for infants and young children, although the park has nothing to do with the Japanese countryside originaly intended in this homepage. The park is situated in Hannou city and its position is also shown on the road map with marked circled 12. You can easily call at the park when you come to the Koma area or you may spend a whole day in the park with your children as you like.
The theme of the park is to visualize the Moomin Valley of the world-famous fairy-tale and to give children dreams. There are five playleaders stationing in the park who play with children. The park is really worthwhile visiting if you have young children.
The park is open 9 to 17 o'clock every day but closed on Monday. No admittance fee is required.
It may be better to carry a picnic lunch with you if you stay there more than a couple of hours although there is a small snack shop at the entrance of the park.
The whole view of " the Valley" is present on the board in the center of the village as shown in the photo left.
Passing through the gate to the valley you can see houses in the valley.
Many children are rushing into the Moomin house.
A fisherman might be appearing from the other side of the pond with a smile for his bag.
This building is a central house of the park, where you can see and actually experience playing the traditional Japanese children's toys. These should be very interesting to you and, of course, your children. Other attractions, such as handcraft making, are also sometimes present.
In the right photo some families are playing in the square in front of the house as they like. There is also another family who are having lunch there.
There is a library in another house as well which collects many materials and picture books regarding Moomin, which you can enjoy further.
This is a calm and pleasant scene of the Moomin valley which seems to continue for ever.
Aerial photo for the guidance to the Moomin park(Akebono park) is attached below. You can easily reach the park by investigating both the aerial photo and the road map to the Koma area. You should note that the position of the railroad bridge of JR Hachikou-Line near Cainz Home is a key for understanding.
In addition, as you may be able to see in the aerial photo, there is another park on the opposite side of the car road (on the southern side of Iruma river) where your children can have a pleasant time. It's worthwhile trying to go.
There is another lovely swimming spot for young children in Hannou. That is called Azuma-kyo (Azuma Dale) which is situated on the Naguri river toward the west of Hannou city (10 minutes drive from central Hannou city).
There are stepping stones for crossing the river.
It is very pleasant and joyful for children to swim and play together in the river which is not so deep nor so shallow.
The dog also seems so happy with children in the river.
How refreshing it is to enjoy reading over the surface of the river on the hot summer day.
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This guidance site has been produced purely for the convenience of users who may be interested in touring the Japanese countryside, and the greatest effort has been made to realize the reasonablly good accuracy on the content. It should be noted, however,that the users or readers of the information contained in this site must make use of it on their own responsibilities and that the founder of this site does not take any responsibility for inconvenience or damage caused by the content of this site. It is hoped, however, that the users enjoy staying in Japan and experiencing many things in Japan.
Kentaro Take who lives at the foot of Tounosu-yama in Hidaka city these thirty years and who loves taking a walk to its summit with his wife and a dog every weekend is posting this web site.It would be greatly appreciated if you kindly send him any opinions, advices or questions on the contents by an e-mail..
Ashbourne is a small town situated in Derbyshire and at the southern edge of the Peak District National Park which covers the mountain area close to the center of England. I have decided to post the Ashbourne site because the town has the quite similar geographical conditions as our Hidaka city and the both town/city are emphasizing the tourism. There must be common features in the tourism or the sightseeing between the two areas and, I hope, knowing and understanding them could bring some benefit to tourists for each area.
Wouldn't you visit Ashbourn by clicking below;
Special Link to the Ashbourne Town Website in Derbyshire, England
I attach here for reference some pictures which I took in Ashbourne several years ago. Ashbourne is really a beautiful town!
Ashbourne Street(Photo right) : It is very pleasant and cheerful for people living or touring there to see beautiful houses with a plenty of lovely flowers in the street.
Dovedale close to Ashbourne(Photo left) : It's one of typical differences between English mountains and Japnese ones that there are many trees in Japanese, but less in English.
Stepping Stones in Dovedale(Photo Right) : They are very similar to ones in our Azuma-kyo or Komagawa surrounding Kinchaku-da.