Tokyo: Swim in the Ome River
Get There: Train to Ikuabata, Sawai or Mitake Station
At the peak of summer, being in Tokyo is much akin to being inside a giant, sweaty armpit. Due to social conventions, it’s largely inappropriate for adults to frolic in public fountains, and relief only comes when you duck into the airconditioning of a konbini to buy your fifth ice-cream of the day.
Enter the Ome River, which is actually the Tama River, but the Ome section of it. For just 1000(ish) yen, you can jump on a couple of trains for two hours and end up in the other-worldly rural paradise that is Ome and its surrounds. Here, mountains coated in pine forests hug a crystalline blue river perfect for swimming in or picnicking at, or for the more extreme, bouldering alongside, fishing in and canoeing down.
Our favourite section is wedged Ikusabata and Mitake Station, with the main swim spot in front of the restaurants near Sawai Station. The river walk is also gorgeous, and a stroll will take you past beautiful gardens and farmlands peppered with honesty boxes for homemade jams, veggies and bags of tea leaves. In terms of food, there are some cute riverside restaurants in Sawai (and a sake brewery!), and a few great ones clustered around Mitake Station.
From Tokyo, get on the Chuo Line to Ome Station (there are some directs, but you may have to swap at Tachikawa). From Ome, jump on the Ome Line to Ikusabata – which is a 15-minute trip, and very scenic. Exit the station, walk downhill and stroll west along the riverside highway until you find a stone staircase on your left a short while after the big wooden BBQ restaurant. The riverwalk is below – Sawai is about 1km and Mitake maybe 2. Alternatively, get off at Sawai if you don’t feel like walking: there’s a great swim spot as soon as you hit the river; or exit at Mitake, find the river and walk back east.