Sayama Hills is home to Tama Lake (Murayama Reservoir) and Sayama Lake (or Lake Yamagushi) and located at the edge of Tokyo and Tokorozawa in Saitama Prefecture. Lake Sayama was created in 1934 and is located next to the Seibu Dome. The area around the lake offers numerous recreation opportunities including hiking, biking, bird watching, cherry blossoms, and autumn leaves.
Fujodi Temple Complex sits on a hill overlooking Seibu Stadium. This temple complex is actually a collection of relics from other temples around Tokyo. It has several gates, a number of shrines, and, at the top of the hill, is an old temple surrounded by dozens of 10-foot tall metal lanterns.
Two of the most significant items here are the Chokugaku and Onari Gates from the Taitokuin Mausoleum. This mausoleum commemorated a Shogun named Hidetada, and was built in the 1630s, following his death in 1622. He rested at this mausoleum in the city of Edo (to eventually become Tokyo), until the allied firebombings of World War II decimated the mausoleum and much of the rest of the city. Because the Chokugaku and Onari Gates were located some distance from the heat of the blasts that torched the main structure, they survived through the war. The Seibu Group, owners of the local baseball team, purchased the remnants of the mausoleum and moved them here in Sayama Hills
The Seibu Dome, located just outside of Tokyo in Tokorozawa, is home to Nippon Professional Baseball team the Saitama Seibu Lions. The team was located in Fukuoka from its founding in 1950 until 1979. The stadium was constructed in 1979 as Seibu Lions Stadium, and the team moved to its present location. The roof was constructed in 1998 and 1999, and it has openings to allow natural air to flow across the field and stands. The stadium is located at the end of the Seibu metro line, between Murayama Reservoir and Yamaguchi Reservoir in Seitema Prefecture. The Yamaguchi Line people mover also terminates at the stadium.
Other than nature, temples, and the Seibu Dome, Sayama Hills boasts the Sayama indoor ski slope, Seibuen Yuenchi amusement park, the Aviation Memorial Park, and more.
Mount Takao - Hachioji
Mount Takao (高尾山) is a very popular mountain in the Western Tokyo town of Hachioji, within Meiji no Mori Takao Quasi-National Park. The peak of the mountain is 1,965 feet above sea level, and it attracts an estimated 2.5 million visitors to its trails, cable cars, chair lifts, temples, and scenic overlooks.
The Takaotozan Railway operates a cable car and a chairlift that take visitors about halfway to the peak of the mountain, and to a scenic overlook that offers views of Tokyo and Yokohama. The mountain also has several trails that allow hikers to avoid the touristy mechanized transport, and they allow visitors a chance to view some of the wildlife like boars and monkeys.
To get to the base of the mountain, take the JR East Chūō Line from Tachikawa to Takao Station, then transfer to Takaosan-guchi Station on the Keio Takao Line.
Views of Fuji from Tachikawa Area
Mount Fuji, or Fuji-san, stands 12,389 feet and is the highest mountain in Japan. Just 62 miles from Tokyo, the mountain is within view of Japan's capital on a clear day. Fuji become a symbol of the country after about 1500 when the capital moved to Edo or Tokyo.
Mount Fuji is considered an active volcano, though it has not erupted since 1707.
Tachikawa's Manpaku Food & Music Festival
Manpaku is an annual food and music festival held in Tachikawa's Showa Park, within easy walking distance of Tachikawa Station. The event is held for about two weeks in May and June, before the hot summer weather arrives in Tokyo. Manpaku features about 100 food vendors offering foods and drinks from Japan and around the world. Japanese foods include ramen, gyoza, noodles, sea urchin, and beer. We saw a number of foreign foods like American barbecue, Italian pizza, Chinese buns, and beers from all over Europe.
There is also live music, kids games, and more.
Entrance is 800 Yen per adult on weekends, and 500 Yen on weekdays. Food is billed separately, with ramen running about 800 Yen and beer 600 Yen.
Fussa Cherry Blossom Festival
The Fussa Cherry Blossom Festival takes place along the Tama River each year in Tamagawa Central Park, a 20 minutes walk from Haijima Station on the JR Ome Line. This is a large park tucked between the Tama River and the Tamagawa Waterway, with hundreds of beautiful mature cherry blossoms stretching over the walking and biking path.
The 31st annual festival was held in 2014. During the festival, the city has strings of lanterns along the trail, creating a soft, pink light under the blossoms at night.
Hamura Sakura Festival
Each year in April, the town of Hamura, on the western edge of Tokyo, hosts a Cherry Blossom Festival. This small event features 200 massive cherry trees towering over the ancient Tamagawa Waterway. Along the canal, you will also find 40 or so vendors during the festival, selling food, drinks and toys. At night the trees are lit with bright pink lanterns all along the canal. In the 2014 festival, they even had a performing monkey on a few nights.
The Tamagawa Waterway fed Edo Castle and to the city of Edo, the predecessor of modern Tokyo. The water was needed because the Tokugawa shogunate had moved the household to Edo in 1600, though the capital did not move until centuries later. As the city expanded, water was in short supply, so six canals were constructed to feed water to the city and its inhabitants. Two brothers named Shoemon and Seiemon are credited with building the canal, as well as operating and maintaining the waterway. They were called the Tamagawa brothers, and their statue stands next to the Hamura Dam.
Fireworks in Tachikawa's Showa Park
One of the biggest events of the year in Western Tokyo is the massive fireworks show at Tachikawa's Showa Park. This event is centered on the main green area in the center of the park on a Sunday evening in late July. Around the green there are a number of food and beer booths, and the city itself also has food everywhere. The closest station to Showa Park is Nishi Tachikawa, but you can walk from Tachikawa Station.
I attempted to attend the 2013 event, along with about 100,000 Japanese, but a storm was brewing. As the time for fireworks approached, the sky got darker and darker and soon, thunder and lightning joined in. The wind picked up, kicking around dust and debris. I had just enough time to buy a few beers and some yakisoba (why does the Firefox spell checker want to call yakisoba isobaric?), when we (and everyone else) decided the middle of an open field was the wrong place to be during a huge storm.
As we began to walk toward Tachikawa, the skies opened in a massive downpour of rain, drenching us from head to toe, despite our umbrellas. It took us at least 20 minutes to get to the park exit, but we couldn't get through the throngs of people huddling below the roofs of the gates. We circled around to a side exit that was chained shut. Frustrated, we huddled under the roof of a closed ticket booth, ate our yakisoba in the rain, and drank a few beers. Eventually the rain let up and we survived the biggest storm of the summer.
Here is the video of my adventure: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/vv/77d2/
Saitama Seibu Lions Baseball
The Saitama Seibu Lions are one of 12 baseball teams in the Nippon Professional Baseball league. The Lions, located in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, are also one of five teams in the Tokyo area, with the others in central Tokyo (two teams), Yokohama, and Chiba. NPB is Japan's highest level of baseball and is considered by many to be a step below Major League Baseball in the U.S.
The Lions were founded in 1950 as the Nishitetsu Clippers, and they played in Fukuoka and won national championships from 1956, 1957 and 1958. In 1979 the team moved to Tokorozawa and became the Seibu Lions. This marked the team's "golden era" when they won 8 NPB championships in 11 seasons from 1982 to 1992. The team also won the Japan Series in 2004 and 2008.
The Lions play in the Seibu Dome, which was constructed in 1979 when the team moved to its present location. The roof was constructed in 1998 and 1999, and it has openings to allow natural air to flow across the field and stands. The stadium is located at the end of the Seibu metro line, between Murayama Reservoir and Yamaguchi Reservoir in Seitema Prefecture. The Yamaguchi Line people mover also terminates at the stadium.
We parked in the stadium lots for 1,100 Yen, and we got tickets near the home bullpen for 3,500 Yen each.
Seibu Dome - Sayama Hills, Seitama Prefecture
The Seibu Dome, located a few miles north of Tachikawa in Tokorozawa, is home to Nippon Professional Baseball team the Saitama Seibu Lions. The team was located in Fukuoka from its founding in 1950 until 1979. The stadium was constructed in 1979 as Seibu Lions Stadium, and the team moved to its present location. The roof was constructed in 1998 and 1999, and it has openings to allow natural air to flow across the field and stands.
The stadium is located at the end of the Seibu metro line, between Murayama Reservoir and Yamaguchi Reservoir in Seitema Prefecture. The Yamaguchi Line people mover also terminates at the stadium.
Showa Kinen Park, Tachikawa
Located a Nishi-Tachikawa Station, just 30 minutes from Shinjuku on the Chuo Line is Showa Kinen Park, or Showa Memorial Park. This expansive green space was created in 1983 to commemorate the Showa Emperor, Hirohito. The park was constructed on a large part of what was the former US Air Force Tachikawa Air Base.
For an entry fee of 400 Yen per adult (About $4 US), you can explore the massive park on foot or by bicycle. Start with the free "Field of Dreams" at the eastern end of the park, then explore the Emperor Showa Memorial Museum and the Emperor Showa Memorial Museum. After entering the park's main eastern gate, you will see the huge, Western-style fountains surrounded by a number of statues. The middle section of the park is dominated by a large lake, with swimming pools, a bird sanctuary and a restaurant. At the northern end of the park is a huge open field with cherry blossoms and flowers. Also to the north you will find athletic fields, barbecue areas and a Japanese garden.
Other fees to use the park include 800 Yen to park a car, 400 Yen to rent bicycles, 1580 Yen to play mini golf, and 200 Yen to play lawn bowling or croquet.
Shōsen-ji Buddhist Temple, Tachikawa
Shōsen-ji Buddhist Temple has beautiful gardens and some cherry blossoms, not far from Tachikawa. When you enter the main gate
The current temple was built in 1916, but the temple's history goes back many years earlier. The temple was initially established in the mid-1600s. One of the temple's bells was cast in 1686 in Tokyo, and the bell tower dates back to 1763. Some statues around the temple are from the mid-1800s. Marking the entrance to the temple is a massive two-story gate, which was just completed in 1999.
Inside the great gate, are the traditional Niō guards. These "benevolent kings" guard the temple and ward off evil spirits. The muscular figure with the open mouth is called "Agyō," and the closed-mouth figure is "Ungyō."
Kodaira, Tokyo 187-0032, Japan
Azusamiten Shrine, Tachikawa's Cat Temple
Azusamiten Shrine is located along Route 7 just a kilometer or two north of Tachikawa Station in the western outskirts of Tokyo. The shrine, actually three or four shrines in the same compound, features an area for prayers for lost and sick cats. Its numerous cat statues and fountains are unusual for a Shinto shrine, but a nice feature for cat lovers.
In a country that all but worships Hello Kitty, why not a shrine for the cats that are part of the family?
Here is a photo of the shrine entrance from 1945
Tamagawa Canal fed Edo Castle and to the city of Edo, the predecessor of modern Tokyo. The water was needed because the Tokugawa shogunate had moved the household to Edo in 1600, though the capital did not move until centuries later. As the city expanded, water was in short supply, so six canals were constructed to feed water to the city and its inhabitants.
Two brothers named Shoemon and Seiemon are credited with building the canal, as well as operating and maintaining the waterway. They were called the Tamagawa brothers, and their statue stands next to the Hamura Dam.
Hamura Dam partially blocks the Tama river on the western outskirts of Tokyo. The dam was originally constructed in 1654, and rebuilt in 1900. Then, as now, the dam's purpose was to divert water to the Tamagawa Canal. The dam was constructed in 1652 by Ina Tadaharu, a civil engineer experienced in constructing dams, reservoirs and levees.
Today the canals provide scenic beauty, water for industry and sake production, and they have some trails along the banks.
The Tama River flows 86 miles from Mount Kasadori in Koshu in Yamanashi Prefecture to Tokyo Bay next to Haneda Airport. The river begins outside of Tokyo, forms the western boundary of Tokyo in places, then flows through Tokyo on its way to the bay. In the city, its banks are lined with parks, bike paths, and sports fields, making the river a popular and scenic picnic spot. Some stretches of the Tama River have good kayaking, and the banks of the river offer great climbing opportunities in a number of areas.
The Tama flows through Tachikawa. Along the river in the city are many parks, ball fields, trails, and green space.
Showa Kinen Park: Open Space(Minna-no-Harappa)
Most of the large scale parks in Japan is either in around the hills or mountainside. This park has been created on such flat space you can play in the grassy ground as wide as 11 ha. It is probably one of the reasons the park attracts more than 3 million visitors each year keeping the TOP 10 position among all the amusement spaces in Japan. At the southern part of this open space there is a kiddie park with various kinds of playsets.
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