Chichibu-Tama National Park

Densely wooded, dotted with old farmhouses and veined with streams, the Chichibu- Tama National Park is Saitama's green backyard. The park is famed for the Chichibu Pilgrimage of 34 temples scattered among arboretums of pine and cedar. Most visitors begin their visit in the town of Chichibu, and it's worth exploring the temples and quaint streets with their early 20th- century buildings as well as sampling the tasty local soba.
The Chichibu area also has plenty of farms where you can pick everything from corn to grapes and eggplants depending on what's ripe that day-look for signs around most of the stations on the local Ohanabatake train line.
Extending through the prefectures of Yamanashi, Tokyo, Saitama and Nagano, this park claims more than 20 peaks of over 6,557ft, but no volcanoes. Mt.Kobushigatake (8,141ft) and Mt.Kumotori (6,620ft) offer a new challenge even to the seasoned climber. Mt.Daibosatsurei (7,311ft), made famous by the novel by Kaizan Nakazato, has routes both for standard mountain climbing and for hiking. Two of Japan's most beautiful ravines, Mitake-Shosenkyo and Nishzawa, are beautiful in the lively greens of spring, but their true splendor comes out in autumn, when the streams reflect unforgettable hues of the leaves changing colors.
Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park, easily accessed from Tokyo area, is an ideal place to observe over 2,800 plant species and many animals, including deer, monkeys, squirrels, and a variety of birds, in their natural habitat.
Masutomi is known all over the world as the home of a national recuperative hot spring with an exceptionally high radium content.
Mitake-Shosenkyo Ravine
Exciting natural sculpture-steep precipices, giant rocks, and crystal clear streams running between the shaped rocks- distinguish Mitake- Shosenkyo Ravine as one of Japan's most gorgeous sites.
This masterpiece was sculpted by the gradual erosion of granite rock by the Arakawa River flowing from the Okuchichibu Mountains.
Since completion of the Shosenkyo Green Line and the walking path, this spectacular sight can be enjoyed by everyone in any season.
Nishizawa Ravine
The rich, emerald water flow, the tiered waterfalls called Nanatsugama-Godan-  no- Taki, and the huge cave called Oketsu formed by the raging water flow are enchanting sights.
You can also enjoy the thrill of crossing the wooden bridge high above the flow. The fresh, bright green of spring, the rhododendron flowers in summer, and especially, the natural kaleidoscopic view of the blazing colors of leaves in autumn, coupled with breathtaking waterfalls, attest to nature's true artistic ways.

This park embraces mountains, valleys and forests located north-west of Kanto. It consists of the Chichibu mountain range (1,500 to 2,600m above sea- level), Tama mountain range (600 to 1,500m) , and Shosen- Kyo Gorge.
This is one of the typical mountain parks consisting of sedimentary rocks and Japan's oldest strata. Steep mountains, deep valleys, Iimpid streams, and dense forests are forming a serene and magnificent landscape.
The park affords a fine view of Mt. Fuji and the Southern Alps. People visit here mainly for mountaineering, hiking, camping and fishing. Mt. Mitsumine, Okutama Gorge and Shosen-  Kyo Gorge are  very good recreational sites for  daytrippers from the Tokyo metropolitan area.
graphicWaterfall, Mt. Mitsumine
Chichibu-Tama- Kai National Park
From Wikitravel
Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park (秩父多摩甲斐国立公園 Chichibu-Tama- Kai- kokuritsukōen) is a national park in Japan at the intersection of Saitama, Yamanashi, Nagano and Tokyo prefectures.

Chichibu-Tama-Kai is the least visited of the national parks within easy striking distance of Tokyo. With eight peaks over 2000m scattered over 1250 km2, there are plenty of hiking opportunities and ancient shrines to visit.

The most popular access route is on the Seibu Chichibu Line (西部秩父線) from Ikebukuro in Tokyo to the terminus Chichibu station (75 minutes, ¥1370 via limited express).

For access to the Oku-Tama region, take the JR Chuo line to terminus Ome (75 minutes), transferring at Tachikawa if necessary. From here, transfer to the Ome line; a trip to (eg.) Mitake station from here takes 20 minutes and costs ¥890.

A the region is best known for its hiking, the recommended way of getting around is on foot.
It is possible to hike Mitsumine and Mitake either separately as day trips, or as a full day's hike along the trail connecting the two.

    * Mount Mitsumine (三峰山 Mitsumine- san). Home to the 2000- year-old Mitsumine Shrine (三峯神社 )on thesummit of this fairly tame 1100m mountain. The easiest methods of access are via cable car from Chichibu Railway Mitsumine- guchi (¥ 950/1650 one- way/return, every 30 min from 9 AM to 4:30 PM) or direct bus from Seibu Chichibu station (¥900, 5 daily). Still, you may find it more rewarding to hike up (or down), there are some nice views and waterfalls along the way and you can pop in at the shrine ryokan Kounhaku's onsen baths for a refreshing dip afterwards (¥500).
    * Mount Mitake (御岳山 Mitake- san). Follows a very similar pattern, with the Musashi-   Mitake Shrine (武蔵御嶽神社) up top. Take a bus from Mitake station to the Mitake cablecar (10 min, ¥270), then the cable car up to the shrine (¥1090 return).

Geographical Location
The park is located on Central Honshu island 50km north- west of Tokyo. The nearest main towns are Chichibu (10km) and Ome (2km). The park boundaries are found within the Nagano, Saitama, Gunma and Yamanashi prefectures as well as the Tokyo metropolitan district. 35°41'- 36°02'N, 138°30'-139°14'E.

Date and History of Establishment
The area was created as a national park on 10 July 1950: designated under the Natural Parks Law largely as a place of scenic beauty. Development is strictly controlled (Art. 17, 18 and 19 of Natural Parks Law). There are a series of zoned areas including core area "wilderness zones" and buffer zone "multiple use areas" where limited development is permitted.

Area 121,600ha (1,000ha special protected area)

Land Tenure 18,480ha state land, 64,070ha public land, 39,050ha private land

Altitude 600-2,595m

Physical Features The park is located entirely within a mountainous area of Honshu. Within the boundaries there are over 20 mountain peaks all formed from paleozoic limestones, the oldest in Japan (Sutherland and Britton, 1980). The Chichibu and Tama mountain ranges reach a maximum altitude at Mount Kinpu (2,595m), Kokushi (2,592m) and Kobushi (2,483m) all within the extreme west of the park. These mountains are largely composed of diorite and granites. High rainfall levels over millions of years have resulted in steep eroded mountain sides and deep ravines such as Shoshenkyo gorge. The four main river systems originating in the mountains include those of Fuefuki, Tanba/Tama, Kawamata and Nakatsu/Arakawa. The topography of the park has traces of the scouring that occurred during the last Ice Age (IUCN, 1975; Sutherland and Britton, 1980; NCB, 1985).

Climate Temperatures vary from a mean for the hottest month of 20.6°C (August) to - 1.8°C mean for the coldest month (January). Annual precipitation averages 1672mm. Snow falls during the mid-winter months.

Vegetation The palaeartic vegetation of the park varies from dense coniferous forests of Japanese cedar Cryptomeria japonica and cypress Chamaecyparis obtusa, in association with red pine Pinus densiflora, and the firs Abies mariesu and A. veitchii. Other species include spruce Picea jezoensis var. hondoensis, larch Larix kaempferi and dwarf or creeping pine Pinus pumila, along with hemlock Tsuga diversifolia and Abies homolepsis var umbellata (IUCN, 1975). The deciduous forests are typically composed of beech Fagus crenata, birch Betula tauschii and B. ermanii var. communis, water oak Quercus crispula, chestnut Castanean crenata, Zelkova serrata, horse- chestnut Aesculus turbinata and maple Acer (IUCN, 1975; Sutherland and Britton, 1980.

Fauna The rich woodland of the park is largely palaeartic in origin. Mammals include Asiatic black bear Selenarctos thibetanus japonicus, wild pig Sus scrofa leucomystax, Honshu sika Cervus nippon centralis and Japanese serow Capricornis crispus (Sutherland and Britton, 1980). The avifauna includes such species as Honshu copper pheasant Syrmaticus semerringii scintillans, scops owl Otus scops japonicus, broad- billed roller Eurystomus orientalis and Japanese robin Erithacus akahige (IUCN, 1975; Sutherland and Britton, 1980).

Cultural Heritage An important shrine, Mitake, is reputed to have been founded some 1,200 years ago under the protection of the Tokugawashogunate. The treasure house contains many objects of national importance. A shrine festival, Hinode- matsuri, occurs in early May every year (Sutherland and Britton, 1980).

Local Human Population The foothills of the park are densely populated and the local people are largely dependent upon tourism and local agriculture for their livelihood. There are extensive terraced fields of buckwheat, rice and potatoes (Sutherland and Britton, 1980).

Visitors and Visitor Facilities The park has up to 8.39 million visitors a yearlargely due to its close proximity to Tokyo (IUCN, 1975). Access is extremely good and facilities include hoteld, visitor centres, three museums, mountain and nature trails, mountain refuges, and camp and picnic sites. Most visitors come for outdoor activities such as hiking, boating and mountaineering, but visits to the shrines, man made lakes, Chichibu folk museum and Ohme railway museum are also popular (Sutherland and Britton, 1980).

Scientific Research and Facilities Investigations on the vegetation of the park area have been undertaken by the Environment Agency (IUCN, 1975).

Management Constraints Due to its close proximity to Tokyo the park is under pressure from a diversity of sources. Chief amongst the threats are the damming of two major rivers within the park (at Chichibu and Okutama) to provide hydro-electricity for the Tokyo area (IUCN, 1975). The cement factories are also having a major environmental impact on the park at the limestone quarries of Chichibu. The forests are exploited and the more remote areas are gradually being opened up with forest road construction (IUCN, 1975; Sutherland and Britton, 1980).

Staff 3 full-time staff (ranger employed by the Environment Agency; two officers of the Saitama Prefectural Government); one seasonal (warden, Nagano Prefectural Government) (IUCN, 1975).

Budget In the mid 1970s the budget consisted of a share of the annual allocation of US$700,000 from the Environment Agency to the National Parks; plus US$70,000 from Tokyo, Saitama, Yamanashi and Nagano Prefectural Governments (IUCN, 1975)..