Tuesday, 20 July 2010

One of the best campsites in Japan?

Lake Numazawa Camp Ground, Kaneyamamachi, Fukushima-ken, Japan

Pitches under the trees in the cooling shade

Situated around a sandy bay on a stunning extinct volcanic lake surrounded by it's mountainous rim, this is a heavenly and relaxing place. It is also ideal if you have children, as the bay is cordoned off and slopes gently, giving children somewhere suitable to splash around in whatever their ability (of course children in water should always be supervised). Usually the water is lower than in these photos, with nice sand for games and sandcastles. Cars have to be left in the car parks a few yards away, so they are not  a danger or a nuisance.

What could be better?

This hidden gem is usually very quiet because of it's remoteness, except for during the Numazawako festival, usually on the first weekend of August. This is a great little festival with food stalls, performances, and a floating dragon defeated by samurai and of course fireworks. It would be worth booking a pitch for this. These photos were taken on a national holiday 3 day weekend, and there was still plenty of space, but you can phone to make sure if you are travelling a long way. On weekdays and most ordinary weekends, there are usually very few tents.

One of the open areas, good for games

There is a toilet and shower block,  barbecue / cooking shelters, separate areas for motor home pitches, and firewood can be bought for use on the hearths scattered around for barbecues - also good for keeping the insects off in the evenings. A few small camping huts are available. It is a great lake for canoeing, and lessons can be booked through the camp site. There is a cafe open during the day at weekends selling ramen and udon noodles and other simple food. The shop beneath is open every day until 5pm and sells ices, cold drink, snack food, firewood, and a few useful camping items. For groceries there is a small basic shop in the village (easy spot by its stacks of beer crates), and mini-marts in Kawaguchi, 20 mins drive away. The nearest supermarket is in Yanaizu, 30-40 mins drive away.

Small chalets with cooking areas and sleeping platforms can be hired

Swimming in the bay - not advised in other areas
Canoeing - buoyancy aids/lifejackets are essential on the main part of the lake as it is very deep.
Easy Walking: around the villages, woods and plateaus on quiet roads and forestry tracks. 
Mountain Walking: superb 10km circuit of the mountains rimming the lake. Good walking (with a couple of exposed sections requiring care if with children). Approx 5 hours for fit adults, allow up to 8 hours for children. Takamori-yama, a rugged 1,100 metre mountain can also be walked from the campsite see here. If you have a car or bike there are numerous beautiful mountains in Aizu that can be done in a day from here, and guides in Japanese are available locally.
Cycling: as you will know from the rest of this blog, Kaneyama and Oku-Aizu is a superlative area for road cycling - all the routes in the cycling pages can be done from here. There are plenty of forest trails for MTB rides too. Families can do various road circuits of Numazawako, and for little un's there is a lakeside tarmac'd footpath to trundle along.
Onsens (hot spring baths). The onsens in Aizu are renowned, and there is one of the best, with outdooor sections overlooking the Tadami river just back down in the main valley 5km away.
Culture: There is (of all things) a fairy museum 500m up from the car park, and also a photographic gallery belonging to a well known Japanese travel photographer (which is occasionally open) right by the lake. The local shrines are worth a look, and if you have a car Yanaizu Bhuddist temple is famous. There are visitors centres scattered along the valley with caf├ęs and good small museums rich in stone age artefacts. There is a 5th century Samurai burial mound about 6km away - but then the whole area is a living museum and you see sights and costumes that have not changed for 200 years.
Nature watching: I was there for a swim today and an eagle swept down and caught a fish with its claws and flew off again.
Please note: as with all Japanese camp sites there are lots of big ants around - but don't worry: I have sat in trunks many times and have never been bitten.

Getting there:
By train on the amazing Tadami line, get off at Hayato station then walk or take a taxi
By car, Lake Numazawa is well signposted from route 252 along the Tadami valley
Google map here

Prices at 2010:
Camping ¥1,000 per tent plus ¥300 per person per night
Motor homes ¥3,000 per vehicle plus ¥300 per person per night
Camp huts: from ¥5,000 to ¥8,000 plus ¥300 per person per night
To book phone ++(0)241-55-3140

I have no connection with the site - it is run by the council, I have just spent lots of happy time here - hope you enjoy it!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Geoff , Thanks a lot for posting the great review of the campsite and I'm planning a bicycle trip from Niigata and will stay there , great photos and looks like a nice place to camp.