When the limestone calls …
Turqoise blue water and an occasional kayak run past a selection of surprisingly good boulders just an hour and a half by train from Tokyo. Set in in the shadow of Mitake Moutain, known for its cable car, hiking, and ancient (some say 2000 years) places of worship and meditation, one could hardly ask for a better setting so close to the bustling metropolis of Tokyo.
My first effort to find this place was a bit challenging as I started from a hotel in Narita using a combination of 3 blog entries posted by 3 different climbers to guide me. The local subway map stops a good hour and a half before the end of the Ome line and my travel was over three and a half hours one-way. I took good notes and offer this as a more clear guide to Mitake-san, starting at the large Shinjuku station on the West side of Tokyo:
1. Change to Marunouchi Line (red) heading northwest to Ogikubu. This station is just a five minute walk from the B-Pump Climbing Gym. A really good gym with friendly staff and a few really strong climbers. Great attitudes. Fun place. By the way, brushing holds for strangers is a great way to break the ice and make local friends.
2. Change to Chuo Line (light blue with a grey stripe) west to Tachikawa station.
3. Change to Ome Line (orange) west toward Ome City.
4. Get off at Ome Station and switch to another Ome Line train that continues further west toward Oku-tama. There may be trains that do not stop at Ome Station and continue, but this was my experience, both going out and returning.
5. Get off at Mitake Station. This is, I believe, 2 or 3 stops from the end of the Ome line. Do not confuse this with “Mitaka” Station which is also on this line. If you are asking directions, emphasize “mee-TAH-kay” as compared to “mee-TAH-kah”.
6. Walk south out of the station. At the bottom of the first set of stairs, just outside the station is an information booth which was that Sunday operated by a gentleman in his 70s who was very eager to circle on a free map all the boulders (you can imagine my surprise!). Even without his welcomed assistance, you may continue south across the street where you may either do directly down to the river on the north side, and walk east (to your left) and over a foot bridge, or head west and to your right, over the automobile bridge.
Either way, you will see the bouldering and likely boulderers on all sides of you, on both sides of the river. The famous Ninja boulder with a half dozen challenging problems is accessible from the highway on the south side of town and the river. Walk east along the highway, through two brief tunnels, and immediately after the second, look down and to your left and there is a well maintained foot path complete with wooden steps.