There are essentially two Tokyos: the one of concrete and steel everybody knows, and the real Tokyo, which notably includes Tama. The sprawling area located west of the city’s 23 wards is where people go to enjoy the serene side of Japan’s capital with hikes through unspoiled nature landscapes, camping, stays at traditional inns, contact with traditional Japanese crafts like fabric dyeing, and coveted views of budding Sakura flowers. In this January, Tama also started producing craft gin at the Tokyo Hachioji Distillery, the first facility of its kind in the area. In short, without a visit to Tama, you won’t get the full story of Tokyo.
Tama is also one of the best places in Tokyo to visit during spring because of its amazing cherry blossom-viewing spots without crowds. Koganei Park boasts over 1,700 cherry trees spread across 80 hectares, making it the fifth largest park in all of Tokyo. The actual largest national government park in Tokyo, the Showa Kinen Park, is also located in Tama, and houses 1,500 cherry trees spanning 30 different varieties, including a rare one that produces green flowers. To enjoy cherry blossoms from chic cafes, visit Kunitachi City when the trees lining the Daigaku Dori Street start to bloom. And, to step into a world straight out of a Ghibli movie, visit Tama City’s cherry tree-covered Irohazaka Slope, which served as an inspiration for key scenes from Whisper of the Heart.
Fans of hiking and cherry blossoms will definitely want to climb Tama’s Mt. Takao to reach the Takaosan Senbonzakura area, whose name translates to “1,000 cherry trees of Mt. Takao.” Also recommended are the cherry trees around Lake Okutama, one of the largest water supply reservoirs in all of Japan. Finally, there’s the Otsu Hana-no-sato (Flower Garden) in Akiruno city that has, well, everything: old cherry trees, access to traditional craft workshops, temples, cafes, and even a hot spring facility. If you’re looking for leisure within Tokyo’s borders, there’s no better place than Tama area.