Tokyo is deep… You'll find yourself whispering these words when you are surrounded by the vast nature of Nishitama. The area has gained attention in recent years as a place to encounter spectacular countryside scenery just about two hours from central Tokyo. Deep within this area lies Kanoto Rock, a mystical spot in Hinohara-mura. Join four outdoor-loving men and women – the model Sophia, the DJ Kaori Sakai, camp table designer and woodworker Norifumi Okuma, and Tadayuki Matsui, an editor with 33 years of outdoor experience – as they take a hiking trip to and go trendy camping in Kanoto Rock.
What will they discover? Let's find out!
In this Nishitama area, famous for Akiruno-shi and Hinohara-mura, it's wonderful that you can just take a short trek from your everyday life and find yourself in astoundingly vast natural surroundings. Lots of people come to this area to enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and camping, in the wonderful natural environment. More and more are becoming regulars here, and quite a few young people have found its charms irresistible and relocated to the area in recent years. And Hinohara-mura, Tokyo's only village aside from the Tokyo Islands, is a treasure trove of nature as forest covers about 90% of the village. Deep within this village is a spiritual spot that true nature lovers know called Kanoto Rock. This gorge, designated a natural monument by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, has towers of hard rock called chert rising on either side, making it look like a massive doorway.
It's time to enjoy the weekend by setting up camp at the foot of Kanoto Rock! Near the hiking course is a camping facility called Lodge Kanotoiwa with accommodations such as tent sites and lodges. This time we'll be staying two days and one night at a tent site along the Kanoto River.
We set off on our hike to the spiritual spot Kanoto Rock. Joining us will be Jinken, who works as an eco-tour guide in Hinohara-mura. Kanoto Rock is made of rock called chert formed from plankton that settled deep at the bottom of the ocean some 150 million years ago during the Jurassic Period. "This Kanoto Rock, which looks like an open door, is said to be the entrance to the sacred realm of Mount Odake above us," says Jinken. Sophia, who has been to Nishitama many times, looks up at the giant 100-meter rock. "Wow! This is incredible," she exclaims. "I had no idea this place was in Nishitama." According to Jinken, the real wonders of Kanoto Rock lie ahead of us in the valley.
To reach the mysterious area with its weaving valleys, we have to cross a thin wooden bridge and climb a ladder hung down a rock. Being this active is a blast!
We follow Jinken off the forest path and down to the valley with its exposed rock. Following the wall of rock with our right hands, the thick rope chain serves as a handrail leading us deeper. We follow that chain and finally walk through the door of Kanoto Rock!
It's a mysterious area with rugged rock formations. We stop midway and look back to see a completely different sight. Jinken recommends we check out the scenery a little before the rope chain area. "On sunny afternoons, the sunlight peeking through the rocks on both sides is breathtaking," he says.