By Sarah Koh
It gets very hot and humid in Tokyo during the summer, however there is a place you can visit to get some relief from the heat.
Komagane city sits between the Southern and Central Alps. It is cool enough that you can enjoy many outdoor activities, such as mountain climbing to the top of Mt. Hoken at 9,616 feet, part of the Kiso Mountain range.
If you want a less rigorous hike there is the Senjojiki Cirque course that winds around beautiful displays of over 150 different species of Alpine wildflowers. This basin was formed 20,000 years ago via glacier erosion. The name Senjojiki is interesting because it means the wildness of 1000 tatami mats, which describes the size of the basin.
During your walk you will see some unique flowers such as the White Hellebore or Kobaikeiso, which only bloom every few years. As you make your way along the trail be on the lookout for monkeys. They can be spotted near the Hacchozaka Fork heading towards Kengaike Pond. The pond provides a very nice reflection of the flowers and mountain.
Before your ropeway ride back down make sure to stop at the 2612 Café, the highest café in Japan. Grab a chair near the large window overlooking the valley. To quench your thirst try the 2612 Ale beer or other special cafe drinks.
Now, getting here is as much fun as exploring the area. At Komagane city go to the Suganodai Bus Center and board the bus headed to Komagatake Ropeway. There are no private vehicles allowed on this route and you will soon see why when your trip up the mountain begins. The bus center is at 2.789 feet and when you reach the ropeway approximately 30 minutes later you will be at 5,453 feet. It is a single lane with many very sharp curves. Your next mode of transportation is the Central Alps Komagatake Ropeway ending at Senjoiki Station, the highest in Japan at 8,570 feet. During this 7.5-minute trip you will see several beautiful waterfalls on both sides of the ropeway car.
The day we traveled to Komagane it was forecasted to be 95 degrees in Yokohama and when we arrived at Senjoiki station there was a sign proudly displaying 67 degrees. It is recommended that you bring a light coat for your hike as the weather can change several times during your visit.
Komagane city has several great attractions including the very historic Kozenji Temple, designated as a National Scenic Beauty spot. While visiting the temple, make sure to read about the legend of the spirit dog Hayatoro. Other attractions are the Komagane Kogan Art Museum, Komagane Silk Museum, Zoutakuji Temple, and several very nice nature parks.
Komagane is another example of the many amazing day trips from the Tokyo metro area.
It is very inconvenient by train. I recommend a direct bus from Shinjuku. The buses depart from Keio Highway Bus terminal every hour and it takes approximately 3.5 hours with rest area stops. There are also many tour buses from Tokyo and Yokohama.
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Born in the U.S.A. - Worked 30 years in executive management high tech Industry, owned a management consulting firm and a wildlife art publishing company. In 2012 completed the Ultimate Travel Writer’s course and published my first article Tower Hopping in Japan with Travel Post Monthly. Since then I have published travel related articles and books in the U.S., Japan, and Costa Rica. As of 2018 I have traveled all 8 regions in Japan. My objective in writing articles is to expose prospective tourists to areas of Japan outside the Tokyo - Kyoto corridor. I enjoy writing about the outdoors, festivals, crafts, museums, local food, history, and the wonderful people I have met along the way. Residing in Yokohama for over five years, I have explored the entire city by foot and have written about my experiences. There is so much to see in Japan.