Summer is fast approaching and while outdoor temperatures are still tolerable even outdoors here in Tokyo, the days will soon be upon us when a lot of people will be stuck day and night to their air conditioners. The only thing I can recommend in those cases is to spend a little time and effort and try to get out of Tokyo. It is often forgotten that even Tokyo mostly consists of mountains and forests, so there is a lot of greenery around if you have the energy to find it. One of my favorites is taking the Ome line out to Sawanoi in Tokyo’s far western Town and walk along the beautiful Tama River. This far upstream it is still quite small, rapid and much cleaner than downstream, although the modern river is many hundreds of times cleaner than it was just 50-60 years ago. Today a lot of wildlife has returned to the river, enough even to support fishing of carp, trout, salmi, redfin and ayu. Not fished but still quite common in the river you may find turtles, crabs and crayfish. There was even a case a few years ago of a seal making its way up to the river, although never this far up!
In the summer the trees provide good shade, the slight breeze is usually cooled down over the broad river and there are plenty of spots where you can get down and put your feet in the cold water to cool down. Go early in the morning, bring a picknick or eat at one of the local places, and get some green in your life to substitute for all the Tokyo grey!
As summer is coming to Tokyo I thought I should share more photos of one of my favorite places for a long nature stroll in the capital – Sawanoi in Ome City in the far west of Tokyo. Quite a bit of a train journey away from Shinjuku but well worth is this hidden gem of a river valley complete with foot bridges, easy to walk paths and trails and more greenery than you can shake a stick at! Just take the Chuo line to the west towards Ome and get off at Sawanoi station.
More photos of the coast and ocean at Oarai Isosaki Jinja in Ibaraki Prefecture to the north east of Tokyo. The torii, the shrine gate, located on top of a rock in the ocean is especially photo worthy, and very popular with photographers from all over Japan. The waterfront is reached by just walking straight down from the main shrine building, passing the huge torii just before the stairs, crossing the road and then following a small path down to the water in between two buildings. If you are ever in the neighborhood I recommend it!
The great shrine of Oarai, the Isosaki Jinja start on a hill but goes all way down into the ocean, with the final piece of the shrine being the tori standing on a rock in the ocean. The torii survived the earthquake and tsunami perfectly and is as superbly photogenic as always. I googled images of it and found my own meagre snapshots amazingly lacking in doing it justice. Well, I will get more chances I hope! I love this particular piece of the coast, the Pacific Ocean is pretty powerful here and although it might now look too much on the surface the water is full of currents making swimming and surfing too hazardous to attempt. So most people come here to enjoy just looking at the ocean, or going for a swim in some of the more sheltered coves and harbors that can be found here and there. More photos to come!