If you want to feel that you have left the center of Tokyo far behind but don't fancy the time or cost involved in a long trip, then Mitake in Okutama is a good choice.

Around 1 1/2 hours on the Chuo Line from Shinjuku Station, the real journey to Mitake begins once you've changed trains at Ome. On the platform, old movie posters from Ome-born billboard artist Kubo Bankan give the feeling that you have stepped back into the Showa Period, and as you pass the wooden station buildings and the old towns along the Tama River, this feeling that you are heading back in time only deepens. The mountains get higher, the view more panoramic as you approach Mitake, so much so that Japan Rail — not known for letting an opportunity pass — operates a "romance car" service at certain times of the day.

In this case, "romance" refers to pink-painted carriages and seats angled to face the window. Arriving at Mitake Station, cross the road and you will find the bus stop for Mount Mitake. A nice diversion is to go down to the Tama River, turn left and stroll along the bank. An antique shop doubling as a cafe has a garden where you can sit and take in the view of the mountains and the river.