Following on from my last article about hiking the Koburi pass, I have another easy Saitama hike for you outdoor cheapos. This particular hike is a gentle stroll through some woods and only a relatively minor climb near the end, plus there’s some nice picnic spots, ponies and an organic cafe. The whole hike should take 2-3 hours, and you have the option of extending it by going deeper into the hills, or walking back to the start rather than taking the train. This is a rough map of the first leg of the route on Google maps, though it doesn’t quite get the route through the woods, but still gives you an idea.
Start From Hanno Station
As with the previous hike, you need to catch the Seibu Ikebukuro line from Ikebukuro to Hanno, it takes about 45 mins and costs 470 yen. Once you arrive, leave the ticket gates and turn left, then down the stairs to the North Exit.
From the north exit turn left and follow the main road heading north. Keep following this road for about 20 minutes, all the way going straight. The main road eventually ends, but keep heading north down the minor streets, keeping an eye out for the bright yellow “チカン注意” – watch out for perverts signs.
Into The Woods
Eventually you’ll reach the woods, and should so this path leading into them. There’s plenty of paths into the woods, so if you don’t emerge at the exact same spot just walk along the road till you stumble across one. Keep following your nose into the woods, and you should join another path heading east–west, so take a left heading west.
Follow this gentle path through the woods until you emerge along side a fenced off driveway (which leads to a rather posh golf course)
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Follow the path under the road and back up into the woods again. Keep following the path with the signs to 巾着田 – “Kinchakuda”.
You’ll stumble across a nice clearing with picnic benches and some seasonal flowers if you arrive at the right time, perhaps a good spot for some rest, sandwiches and banter.
You’ll emerge from the forest, take a left when you see the map above, and keep following the signs which will lead you down to this little wood bridge over the river and into Kinchakuda.
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Depending on the time of year, you could see cherry blossoms, various crops, ponies, frogs, fish, a water mill and even stumble into a festival. Either way there’s a variety wildlife and nature to enjoy here plus there’s plenty of grass to sit upon whilst munching your onigiri, sarnies etc.
Onwards And Updwards
The next stage of the trip is a leisurely hike up Hiwada mountain (日和田山), which although has the suffix “san” (山) meaning mountain, at 305 m is more of a hill really. So leave Kinchakuda and cross over the main road, heading north towards the hill, or signs for Komajinja (高麗神社). At some point you’ll also see a signpost to 日和田山, so follow that.
Pro Tip: You may spot some home grown organic vegetables on your way, like pictured below. I picked up a generous bunch of organic (well no pesticide at least) spinach, the sign said all items 100 yen each, and to leave the money in the little money box—organic Cheapo delight!
Leave the road and head up into the woods on your way up 日和田山. There’s two routes the “male” – dansei (男性) and “female” – josei (女性) paths, though I pretty sure you’re permitted to venture “off gender”, and take whichever path you please.
If the visibility is good you’ll get a pretty spectacular view of Tokyo, mountains and Mount Fuji off in the distance too.
Stop off at Alishan Cafe and Shop
When you’ve had your fill of Hiwada, retrace your steps back down and to the main road, (if you haven’t had your fill you can continue exploring the woods and mountains, if you gradually head west and south you’ll meet with the Seibu line again). Just on the edge of Kinchakuda is Alishan Organic Cafe.
If you couldn’t find any home grown organic veg on the hike, fear not Alishan shop usually stocks local organic produce as well as a range of imported whole foods, and various other goodies. Plus there’s also Alishan cafe, so if you’d didn’t pack your bento, you can stop here for lunch tea and biscuits etc.
Back Home Again
You can retrace your steps back through the woods and to Hanno Station, or you can take the easy route back by grabbing the train from Koma Station (高麗駅), just a 3-min walk west from Alishan Cafe. For other trails to explore, check out our post on 10 popular Tokyo hikes.
And to finish, here’s a picture of some flowering plant: