When people think of Tokyo, their minds may immediately go to busy city streets, packed subway trains, and neon lights galore. That certainly is the case for some areas, but the Akigawa Valley provides a glimpse into a different side of Tokyo - a more serene, tranquil one.
The literal translation of Akigawa is "autumn river", and given that, it may not come as a surprise that autumn is one of the most popular times of year to visit the valley. One of the iconic views of the area comes from the Ishibune Bridge, a suspension bridge spanning the river – it's gorgeous when the fall foliage is at its best, but the vibrant greens of spring and summer, along with occasional snow in winter also make for beautiful snaps.
Part of what makes the valley such a great place to visit is how easy it is to spend time there. The area is dotted with barbecue facilities and campgrounds, and during summer you'll find plenty of people fishing in the river (permits are required - see the Akigawa Fisheries Cooperative for more details). There are numerous hiking trails which are traversed year-round, and even a hot springs facility (Akigawa Valley Seoto no Yu) where visitors can appreciate the scenic surroundings whilst enjoying a soak.
If you're looking for a way to connect with nature without having to leave Tokyo Prefecture, be sure to keep Akigawa Valley on your must-visit list.
For more to do in the area: