Tokyo, being the capital of Japan, is a large metropolis which is divided into different wards and cities. Hachioji (in Japanese, Hachiojishi) is one of these cities. Located in the western region of Tokyo, it’s got a hefty population of around 579,330, making it a Core City. It takes up 186.38 square kilometers of Tokyo and is home to quite a few fun activities, beautiful sights, and a park or two to camp in.
A Fragment of Japan: The History of Hachioji
Back during the Edo period, Kōshū Kaidō was one of the Edo Five Routes that was used as a route for travelers to trek on their journeys to the west during the medieval times. Because Hachioji (formerly known as part of a very old province called “Musashi”) was connected to Kōshū Kaidō, it used as a “Shukuba”, or post town. A post town is a place that is designated to have resting facilities for weary travelers to use. At that time, workers who were on horseback - carrying goods to trade or who had business to conduct in other parts of Edo - had no choice but to go through parts of these highways. That’s when Tokugawa Ieyasu made it a point to strategically designate certain areas as Shukuba, to protect travelers from fatigue and elements of the weather.
In 1584, Hōjō Ujiteru, a Japanese samurai, constructed Hachioji castle. Six years later, he was attacked by a daimyo (a feudal warlord) named Toyotomi Hideyoshi and lost to him. The castle was destroyed completely, and Hōjō Ujiteru and his brother both committed seppuku. For the rest of its existence during the Edo period, the Tokugawa Shogunate took over Hachioji.
Meiji restoration changed Hachioji as it did the rest of Japan. It wasn’t until April 1 that the town was properly called Hachioji. Leading up to that, it was always known as an area that partially comprised the Minamiyama District. It also wasn’t part of the Tokyo metropolis yet; it still belonged to the Kanagawa Prefecture. Only four years later, also on April 1, 1893, was the Minamiyama District officially considered part of the Tokyo metropolis. Around this time, Hachioji was famous for its lucrative textile and silk industry.
Hachioji City: 20th Century Onwards
At this point, railroad systems were being developed, thus giving travelers quicker transportation time, and less of a need to stop by at post towns. The business that Hachioji used to have from their inns slowly reduced. Despite the decline in business, Hachioji’s population continued to develop, until September 1, 1917, when it was finally declared a city.
Unfortunately, Hachioji was not spared the death and destruction that the rest of Japan dealt with during the second world war. Hachioji was the location where American pilots were captured and decapitated with samurai swords by Japanese soldiers. They sent pictures to U.S. military personnel to mock them, and in turn, U.S. soldiers would save bombs meant for other locations to drop on Hachioji. The damage from their retaliation was so severe that even if the war had ended, U.S. soldiers were often warned before visiting Hachioji due to the harassment they would probably receive from bitter locals.
However, Hachioji moved on and took part in the 1964 Olympic competition by hosting the cycling matches, which they built a velodrome for. Though it’s textile industry and reputation for being a post town are gone, it still serves as a hub that connects commuters due to its conjunction with several stations and highways. It is also home to many major Japanese institutions, universities, and schools.
Here’s A Guide to Help You Get to Know More About Hachioji in Japan
If you plan to visit Hachioji, or are in Hachioji right now, there are several things you should know about it besides its history. For example, a large chunk of it is surrounded by mountains. Yup, that means a lot of the activities around the area include hiking on and discovering the different areas around the mountains. It’s also considered a university town, so a lot of the residents in this city are made up of mostly younger folks. It has a total of 18 universities, 97 different public schools, and 11 private schools that offer primary and secondary education – including one school for the visually impaired; “Hachioji School for the Blind”.
While in Hachioji, you may find it more convenient if your itinerary were to be segregated into three actions; see, which is for gorgeous vistas, and temples, do, which is for events you’re more physically involved in, and learn, which entails enrolling in schools.
What to See In Hachioji: More Local Japanese Culture
In terms of what you should see, the Hachioji Castle should be top of your list. Although it isn’t exactly a castle as much as it is a residence of the man who built the castle, it’s still an interesting tour. The actual Hachioji castle was erected high up the mountains, and nothing remains of that castle anymore.
Next historical site to check off your to-see list is the Yuki-Ji Temple. Situated on top of Mt. Takao, this Buddhist temple was built as early as 744 AD. Tourists aren’t allowed to enter the temple itself, merely admire its ancient architecture from the outside. If you aren’t interested in hiking but still want to see the temple, a cable car may take you there. It’s best to go on a clear day, as they say, you may get a glimpse of Mount Fuji from the temple.
Lastly, don’t forget to visit the Musashi Imperial Graveyard. This holds the tombs of past Japanese emperors, namely Emperor Taishō, Emperor Shōwa, their wives, as well as Empress Teimei, and Empress Kōjun.
What to Do In Hachioji: Mountain Treks and Festivals
Mt. Takao is a climb suitable for all kinds, although it’s steep at the start of its course. To get to Mt. Takao, simply get off the Takaosan-guchi by taking the Keio Line. You will arrive at the base of the mountain, and the beginning of your trail. In case you’re in it just to enjoy the view at the top and not for the hike, you can take a chairlift ride (you need to be 6 pax, costs 480 yen one-way, 930 yen if you do round trip.) Don’t forget to take a minute to bask in the scenery.
After enjoying the scenic and green hike, there are several affairs happening at the top of the mountain. Because this mountain is the habitat of Japanese Macaques (Snow Monkeys), there is a zoo full of them, which you may visit. Now, if you’re tired from hiking and want a cold beer, there’s an unlimited buffet at your service if you’re willing to pay 3000 Yen. Depending on which path you take, you’ll find more vendors, shrines, and nature.
In terms of aesthetic appeal, it’s best to go visit this mountain during springtime or autumn. Spring time usually has the cherry blossoms in full bloom, while Autumn makes for wonderful leaf colors brought in by the Koyo front. In fact, during autumn, the Hachioji Ichou Festival happens, celebrating the color of the many maidenhair trees planted around the district.
Where to Learn: Notable Colleges and Universities in Hachioji, Japan
There are many universities in Hachioji that have made the list of 100 top schools in Tokyo. Coming in at 11th is Chuo University. Next is Tokyo Metropolitan University at 23rd place, then Soka University at 34th place. Tokyo University of Technology is in 49th place, followed by Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Science in 67th. Lastly, Tokyo Zokei University is ranked 83rd. Make sure to pick a school depending on their specialties; they should match your profession. They are all very prestigious schools with tough competition among students; in fact, the higher the ranking, the tougher it gets.
Looking For A Japanese Language School? Perhaps Not in Hachioji
Sadly, there are not that many recommended schools that are specialized in teaching language classes in Hachioji. You’re better off in other parts of Tokyo if you want decent Japanese language classes, such as Yokohama (Jean’s Language School), Tokyo (Genki Japanese and Culture School) or Shinjuku (JCLI Japanese Language School). They are all 30 kilometers or so away, so you may have to take many train rides to get there.
However, if you insist on learning Japanese in Hachioji, you may enroll in a college course for that department or class. Yamano College of Aesthetics, for example, has one named “Special Japanese Language Course”. Teikyo University simply calls their course “The Japanese Language Course”, while SOKA University categorizes this course in their Japan Studies Center. You may also try your luck at Tama University.
Assess Your Itinerary for Hachioji in Japan by Using A Map
Now that you know more about Hachioji and what it offers, it’s best that you prepare early and arrange how you plan to spend your trip here. Maneuvering through Japan can be tough when you’re a foreigner, especially if you’re a new student. For freshmen, familiarize yourself with the areas; remember places that are considered east, west, north, south, and keep a map app on your phone – Google Maps works well. If you plan on driving and your car won’t have a built-in GPS, get one.
In case you’re just here for a week, the best kind of map to have is always the subway map of the Tokyo Metro. Not only will this be your most common means of transportation, planning where you want to be and what you’re going to do while you’re in that area maximizes what time you have enjoying your trip.
Complete Your Delivery Address to Hachioji with a Postal Code
For instances when you’re ordering something or having something shipped to you, you’ll need to give them your zip code along with your address. There is a total of 120 postal codes for all of Hachioji, each code corresponding to a certain area. The Hachioji postal code usually starts off with 193-0, or 192-0, followed by two more numbers. Simply search for your postal code by inputting your general area and “postal code”, and you’ll get it in no time.
What’s the Weather Like in Hachioji, Japan?
Just like the rest of Tokyo, Hachioji is hot and humid during summer, and chilly winters, with the occasional frosty front. Around January-February, the average low temperature can hit the negatives in Celsius. The average highs aren’t that bad, 31.2 degrees Celsius during Hachioji’s hottest month, August.
Spring and Autumn have relatively the same weather, so you may want to bring a light jacket or two if you’re coming during these months. Otherwise, it’s extremes; prepare for a cold winter, or get those short sleeves and slippers out for the summer heat.
Train Stations in Hachioji, Japan
There are two railway companies that operate in Hachioji, namely JR East, or East Japan Railway Company, and Keiō Corporation. Under JR East, you have three lines; the Chuo Line, the Yokohama Line, and the Hachiko Line. Under the Keiō Corporation, you have the Keiō Line, the Keiō Takao Line, and the Keiō Sagamihara Line. The Chuo Line is popularly used to get around Hachioji itself and stops at Hachioji station. All those lines stop at different stations, and you choose the line depending on what station it stops in is nearest your desired location.
The Best Hotels in Hachioji, Japan
Among the 14 hotels in Hachioji, two stood out to be the top choices; Keio Plaza Hotel Hachioji, and the b Hachioji. Keio Plaza Hotel Hachioji may seem off-putting at first rating a 3.5 out of 5 stars, but don’t underestimate its location. Not only is it situated right beside Hachioji Station, it’s also around different restaurant options and many convenience stores that are open 24 hours. The staff speak English for international guests, and although the rooms may be small, they’re clean. One night here should cost you a little less than 10,000 yen.
The b Hachioji has fewer reviews than its competitor Keio Plaza Hotel, but it does have a higher rating of 4 out of 5, and it’s a little cheaper at around 8,100 yen per night. It’s near many bus stops as well as the JR and Keio station – though you do have to walk just a little bit. It does have small rooms – a little claustrophobic for some people, but at the price it offers, its service is still fantastic, making it worth its value.
Hachioji may seem rural compared to the rest of the Tokyo metropolis, but it does have its own charm. Bustling with students and commuters, it’s hard not to fall in love with even the less familiar parts of Japan’s capital.