If you are looking for a nice hiking day without the crowds, choose Yamakita.
Many people ride the rails right through this little town on their way to the Gotemba Outlet Mall not realizing what they are missing.
I joined a group of HAM operators from the Yokosuka area for a hike in Yamakita, a small town on the Gotemba Line, northwest of Kozu.
I met Masayuki Hamada earlier this year and we hiked around Kinugasa. He invited me to join his group to walk Kamakura during the spring. We had such a fun time they asked me to meet them again for their fall trip.
We arrived at Yamakita Station and headed accross the tracks to the Town Railway Park to view the D52-70 steam locomative. The train was once used to climb up and down Hakone mountain. It sits on 40 feet of track and at certain times of the year it moves back and forth. During the Soran Yamakita Yosakoi Festival, the park is full of Sakura (cherry) blossoms, a great time for picture taking.
Our next destination was Kawamura Castle Ruins park, which was the residence of the Kawamura family from the Chusei (1185-1392) through the Sengoku (1600) period. After many years of research and development it became a historical park in 1996. Near the small shrine atop the mountain we stopped to eat lunch. You can view part of Mt. Fuji from this vantage point. There are many historical markers throughout the park indicating where the Kawamura clan had their individual homes.
After lunch we walked to Shasui Falls, one of the top 100 waterfalls in Japan. Along the pathway we passed the high steps leading to Saisho ji Temple, and of course I had to climb up to take a picture. The falls are very picturesque with a small red bridge that sits over the Tanzawa River. Near the entrance is a little fruit and veggie stand with some unbeatable prices. I purchased from these same ladies this past spring and today bought some tangerines to take home.
The walk back was along highway 726 to highway 246. There is a nice narrow road that follows the tracks back to the station. The hike is approximately 12.4 kilometers round trip. The course is well marked and you can get a map at the information center just outside the station. (Japanese only).
There are several shrines and temples in the town, as well as onsen (hot springs), making this area a nice quiet day away from the city.