Tama River, Japan | Cycling Through The Outskirts Of Tokyo

tama river cycling picnic barbeque swimming

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Cycling Along the Tama River

Last time we visited in Tokyo in 2013 we had cycled the bottom of the Tama River that flows out between Tokyo and Yokohama. The cycle path starts near the river mouth at Otori and can be cycled upriver (or down) for about 70km. On the last visit we had managed about the first 30km up to Keio-Tamagawa. Our ambition has always been to complete the entire course, so this time we planned to cycle down river starting in the mountains of the Yamanashi Perfecture, where the Tama river originates, all the way back to Chofu, where we would meet friends for dinner.

Taking Trains to Ome Station

From our little house in Hiroo, we took our bikes, a backpack with some basic food and drinks, and our Rinku bags for the train journey. We cycled to Shibuya station, where we took the Keio-Inokashira line to Kichijoji station and there we changed to the JR Chuo line. We had to get off at Ome station for a change between trains.

Omu station tokyo japan platfrom

keiko inokashira line train carriage

Nostalgic Station

Ome station itself was mainly left as it used to look about a hundred years ago in the Showa era. There were nostalgic posters of famous Japanese films in the underpass and quaint old wooden waiting rooms on the platform. Here we waited for our train that would take us to Kawai station. The last part of the train journey took us high up on the mountainside, with views of the river in the valley and little villages along its bed and the towering mountain range above.

ome station notsalcic film poster

ome station underpath film posters

ome station nostalgic films

ome station platform people waiting

ome train conductor cabin

Kawai Station

When we got off at Kawai station we noticed the difference in temperature to Tokyo. We had left Tokyo two hours before and the city was almost unbearably hot, but up here in the mountains it was much cooler and the air fresher and cleaner. We could not wait to get onto our bikes and start cycling. The first few kilometers were downhill, along the main road. Luckily this far out in the country there was not enough traffic to spoil our ride.

Kawai japan beauty salon

tama river cycling river

tama river cycling road puddle

Kawai train bridge cycling

Tama river cycling mirror main road

Lunch at a Riverside Restaurant

Shortly, we spotted a restaurantきり山 on the riverside and decided to stop for lunch. The mama-san seated us, typical Japanese style on the floor, at a table right next to the windows overlooking the Tama river. We enjoyed a hot bowl of soup with udon and a cold tea while watching men with their fishing rods in the shallow river water trying to catch some fish.

tama river cycling reastaurant

tama river cycling lunch

tama river cycling restaurant guests

tama river cycling roadside flowers

The Tama River

At the next bridge we turned right and cycled along back streets parallel to the river. The main road was getting busier so the detour was welcome and more interesting. We passed a lot of residential areas, mixed with fields and pine forests. As we descended the Tama River started to widen with the river bed expanding and becoming more and more of a river rather than a mountain stream.

tama river cycling bridge art work

tama river cycling village crossing

tama river cycling bar architecture

tama river cycling abandoned house

Swimming in the River

Passing Ome we noticed fisherman on the Tama riverbank below and saw families with their children and friends. They had put up tents on the dry parts of the riverbed to have a picnic and barbeque. Children played in the water, some even swam in the calmer parts of the river. We would have loved to join them, the heat was getting more oppressive as the day moved on, but we also were conscious of the time. We were supposed to meet friends at 18:00 in Chofu and were still many kilometers away from getting there.

tama river cycling river swimming

tama river cycling picnic barbeque swimming

tama river cycling fisher men

tama river cycling fisherman

Cycling Path

After Ome the path became better marked and we kept on cycling on along the special river side cycling path and only briefly stopped to get an ice cream from one of the convenience stores or drinks from the vending machines.

tama river cycling shrine

tama river cycling playground

tama river cycling swings

tama river cycling soap bubbles

Chofu District

The further we got towards Chofu district, the bigger the villages and towns seemed to get, we pedalled past big apartment blocks but also small residential areas, under train bridges, and over small canals.

tama river cycling path

tama river cycling weeds

tama river cycling baseball game

tama river cycling baseball court

Break From Cycling

There were playgrounds, football and baseball fields and plenty of other places to stop and have a break from cycling. We saw groups of teenage boys play baseball on the fields and many other cyclists and joggers. The sun started to get lower, the water of the river glittering between the trees and weeds.

tama river cycling apartment blocks architecture

tama river cycling rocks

tama river cycling rocks

tama river cycling clouds sun

tama river cycling birds

Nakagawara Station

At some point we realised that we were not going to be able to make it all the way into Chofu in time, not to mention our tiring legs. We decided to cut our ride short and stopped at Nakagawara station which was enough to nearly complete the river end to end, and saved a few kilometers riding through the city suburbs. We quickly packed up our bikes into their Rinku bags and took the Keio train for two stops to Chofu where we met our friends for dinner. It was great to reconnect and taste the food in a local izakaya (pub) 四十八漁場 調布駅前店 . With plenty of delicious food and sake shared and travel stories told, we made our way by train back to Shibuya tired but very happy to have completed the Tama.

Sayonara Japan!

The days ride along the Tama River, through the outskirts of Tokyo was a fantastic and appropriate end to a holiday spent exploring and biking in Japan. We were sad to leave for home, but we also know we will be back soon. Sayonara Japan!

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Where to stay in Tokyo:

Park Hotel Shiodome

One of the first design hotels in Tokyo, it still offers rooms for at a very reasonable price.

Hoshinoya Tokyo

The ultimate ryokan stay in Tokyo. It certainly comes at a price but then we all need to splurge every now and then!

Park Hyatt Shinjuku

The Park Hyatt received fame thanks to “Lost in Translation” and a swim in the rooftop pool offers amazing views of Tokyo unlike any other hotel.

Gran Bell Akasaka

We always loved our stay in one of the suites at Gran Bell, they proved to be a spacious alternative to the chain hotels.

Cerulean Tower Shibuya

Anyone wanting to stay in Shibuya should stay at this upmarket high-rise hotel

Four Seasons Marumouchi

Sophisticated rooms with floor to ceiling windows in a prime location above Tokyo station, very close to Ginza and the Imperial Palace.

Share Hotels Lyuro Kiyosomi 

Housed in an industrial style building, set on the Sumida River bank, the hotel offers a contemporary style, spacious family rooms and dorm rooms at great value.

19 thoughts on “Tama River, Japan | Cycling Through The Outskirts Of Tokyo

  1. Incredible to be able to do this and do keep the sharing. Yes this is the life! You bring to life for us the real lives of people in Japan! While you are in the country, get around. We certainly did the same when we lived in Holland and China!

  2. I love traveling to Japan and have done so many times from Shikoku to Hokkaido and enjoyed every time. Hope you have chance to see some of my postings on Japan in my blog. Thank you for sharing your pictures and stories. Happy traveling!

      1. I’m sorry you couldn’t locate the postings. You could try “search” on the top line of my site – just type “Japan” and hit enter key to search – there should be about a dozen postings listed. Good luck. —Stephen

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  5. Great .. i have a question.. You write <> so PASS OME, going where ? OME is not directly on the river. Could you be a bit more precise ? Whats the nearest station to where the kids were playing in the water? I would like to go there.. Thanks .. Enjoy your cycling. I welcome answers at seeyouin2011@gmail.com.

    1. Hi JP,
      thanks for your message. You’re right OME station isn’t by the river, we cycled along the path that runs along the Tama, and crosses through Kamanofuchi Park. In fact there were a few sections on either side of the park where we saw kids playing in the water. The first photo of the paragraph was near Kampo Inn Oume, the second just slightly downriver just under the next bridge by Ome Municipal Museum of Provincial History. The water looked shallow and safe enough in both spots and there were plenty of kids swimming in the water with their swim rings and floaties. I would say it isn’t too far to walk from Ome station, even on the hottest of Tokyo’s heat, probably around 15mins. Sadly we couldn’t stop for a dip that day as we were too much in a rush but we are heading back to Tokyo this summer and hopefully we might get a chance this time around.

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