Stop One, Start: Mt. Takao
Mt. Takao is located in the southeastern part of the Kanto Mountains and was awarded three stars in the 2007 Michelin Green Guide due to its possession of rich nature, Mt. Fuji views, and easy access. While it can get quite busy, it is a wonderful breath of fresh air away from the city.
Start your Chuo Line journey here with a three hour round-trip hike to the summit and back. The leftmost Inariyama Course is the least built up and usually most quiet, especially if you arrive early enough.
Stop Two: Showa Kinen Park
This is the biggest park in Tokyo and was developed with the motto of “recovery of greenery and improvement of humanity”. With this in mind, the park has been built with many feature points allowing even the least nature-inclined folk to enjoy themselves here. In autumn, the yellow ginko trees mark an impressive welcome into the park and in summer the sunflower field is a dazzling golden green.
Stop Three: Inokashira Koen (and Blue Sky Coffee)
Inokashira Park is most popular in spring as a place to picnic under the cherry blossom trees on a blue sheet as part of the hanami (literally, “flower viewing”) festival. You can also rent a swan boat to pedal around the pond; however, you should avoid this if you are on date with someone new, as these boats are said to bring bad luck. Start or finish a trip here in any season with a visit to Blue Sky Coffee for a reasonably priced caffeine hit or anything from tea to beer on the extensive drink menu.
Stop Four: Reading Forest Park (and Bread and Café Edaone)
Ogikubo has many parks considering its fairly small size. “Reading Forest Park” is one such park, and is nestled next to the Suginami City Central Library. Playing on the relationship with the library, the park pays homage to the literary stars of days gone by and is dotted with several reading nooks. Head to delicious nearby bakery “Bread and Cafe Edaone” to have a small picnic break with a book.
Final, Stop Five: Momozonogawa Greenway (and Takasago-yu)
Finish up your journey into the main city area along this lush greenway. Stretching one mile from the south side of Koenji Station to Shinjuku, this path lies where the Momozono River once ran. Momo, meaning “peach”, was used in the name as reference to a large peach tree that once graced the grounds of Koenji Temple. Along this path just south of Nakano is an old-school public bath with Mt. Fuji murals by a local painter, and both outdoor and indoor baths. Restore yourself here after a long day, starting and ending with the majestic Mt. Fuji (if you have been lucky!)
* Note: the path continues to Shinjuku where you can officially finish your Chuo Line adventure.