Land area: 126,259 ha
Designated on July 10, 1950
This national park, which is in a mountainous area with abundant nature, is located close to the Tokyo Metropolitan area. As it is accessible by public transportation, the park is visited by many climbers and tourists. Visitors enjoy nature in the mountains with various activities such as hiking, walking along mountain streams and mountain-range.
Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park is located in the western part of the Kanto metropolitan region of Japan. It consists of mountains and streams with the Oku-Chichibu Mountain Chain as its core.
While the park has a range of high mountains 2,000 m or higher dominated by Mt. Kinpusan (2,599 m) and Mt. Kitaokusenjodake (2,601 m) as its highest peak, there is no volcano. This is rare in Japan, a volcanic country. The mountain chain has a compound geological formation with the Chichibu Paleozoic Strata as its main ground. As the mountains command excellent views and can be accessed conveniently by public transportation, the park attracts many visitors throughout the year.
In these mountains, there are valleys eroded by the water of the Tamagawa and Fuefukigawa Rivers. At the upper reaches of the Fuefukigawa River in the west end of the park stretches the Shosenkyo Gorge which is known for unusually shaped granite rocks. Nippara at the upper basin of the Tamagawa River is on a limestone stratum and limestone caves make for notable sites in the park.
The area contains the head of the Tamagawa River, one of the major rivers in the Kanto Region, and also the source of some of Japan's representative rivers such as the Chikumagawa River and the Arakawa River. As the basin of the Tamagawa River and its branches, and the shore of Lake Okutamako are popular pleasure resorts, there are many campgrounds and other leisure facilities.
In the park area, planted forests of Japanese cedars (Cryptomeria japonica) and Japanese cypresses (Chamaecyparis obtusa) account for more than 40% of its vegetation. In the Oku-Tama and Oku-Chichibu areas, while the main flora is broad-leaved deciduous trees of oak, Japanese zelkova (Zelkova serrata) and chestnut (Castanea crenata) by the mountain streams, it changes to beeches (Fagus crenata), katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) and Japanese oaks (Quercus crispula) halfway up the mountains. As the altitude becomes higher, mixed forests of coniferous and broad-leaved trees can be seen and in the subalpine zone, natural forests of Maries firs (Abies mariesii) stretch out. As the whole park is located at a relatively low altitude, the alpine region in the park area is small. Woods of Japanese larches (Larix kaempferi), which are seen in some parts of the park, and natural forests in the Shosenkyo Gorge that contain Japanese red pines (Pinus densiflora), maples and azaleas are especially beautiful.
In Nippara and other limestone areas, some rare plants including Chichibuminebari (Betula chichibuensis), an endangered plant of the birch family, can be observed.
Regarding fauna, many Japanese shika deer, Japanese serows and Japanese macaques live in the park area as there are deep valleys on steep slopes and natural forests. The park is also a habitat for mountain hawk eagles and other birds.
Not a few people live in the park area. Looking at the scenery of small communities along the old highway, or houses and small fields which appear to be leaning on steep slopes is meaningful in terms of understanding the culture of the region and allows one to think about the lifestyle of the people who live deep in the mountains.