Category Archives: Ken-o expressway

Mt Takao with children (includes New Years data) | HACHIOJI 【TOKYO】

The first time I went to Mt Takao with my 4 kids, they were all under 7 at the time. The youngest had just turned one.  I did the trip sans husband, but thankfully with my best friend, Japanese food writer Fiona Uyema, and her 2 children. I had chosen to take Fiona there, who was visiting from Ireland, after reading a very good write up about the Autumn Leaves in the area. I was very glad we made the trip and was pleasantly surprised at how easy the trip was to manage, even with small children.

When we visited it was bang smack in the middle of prime Autumn Leaf season. I didn’t know it at the time, but the day we chose to go had been reported the previous evening as to be the best day to view the Autumn Leaves in their prime. I think half of Tokyo got in their cars and made the journey to witness the leaves in their prime. The area was extremely busy, we even had to queue to take the exit of the highway. However, it was worth it.

Image from SONY JAPAN

There are a number of different trails you can do, so you can plan according to your children’s ages. 599 Museum supplies good information in English on the trails. Despite being a mountain area, the top of Mt Takao is actually quite easy to navigate with a stroller / buggy. However, if you want to hike the mountain trail, a buggy / stroller is  not advisable.  Also, there are places at the top of the mountain that you will need to park your stroller if you want to explore further. The easiest way (and most fun for the kids) to get up the mountain is the cable car. Even if it is very crowded, they don’t ask you to fold up your buggy, or at least they didn’t ask me – they told me to leave it open. It maybe that they took pity on me trying to flock my herd, fold a buggy and hold a one year old simultaneously! For older children you can also use the chair lifts.

There are two things that I would point out as potential difficulties with small children. One is that as you are on top of a mountain with a steep decline on one side and limited barriers at the side of the pavement, it can be quite unnerving if the kids walk close to the edge. Obviously, I told them not to, but… well they’re kids, even if they do listen, they forget and they can’t quite sense danger like a Mother can. Two; you have to queue for everything if you go at one of the prime visiting times; tickets, trains, toilets, food… everything. On the way back down if you want to get the last cable car, which goes around 5.30 pm, you need to start queuing up to an hour in advance. Also, another thing to take note off is that it is a couple of degrees colder at 599 meters. When we visited in November we needed winter jackets as the sun started to go down.

Despite the crowds and the potential danger, I think Mt Takao is an ideal place to bring young children, even babies, for a mountain visit. It is also a great place to introduce young children to hiking. There is a lot to do in the area, especially close to the cable car and train stations. At the bottom, near Kiyotaki Cable Car Station there is the relatively new 599 Museum, nearby and very close to Keio Takao Line Takaosanguchi station there is Keio Takao Hot Springs and a Trick Art Museum. Up the top, near the Takaosan cable car station there is a monkey park.

There are also lots of eateries, power spots and view points near this station.  Near the Takaosan cable car station at the top of the mountain is Kasumi, a popular spot with hikers for a quick bite to eat. They have 2 popular traditional type Japanese treats; Mifuku dango and Tenguyaki. Mifuku dango is a type of charcoaled dango, cooked in a circle around an open charcoal grill (pictured). One dango costs 310 yen. The Tenguyaki is a type of waffle with sweetened black soybean paste inside. A tengu is a legendary long nose goblin that is an intricate part of Japanese religion.  One tenguyaki costs 140 yen.  They sell ice-cream here too, including a Fly Honeysuckle flavoured ice-cream (pictured).

Takao-san is popular all year round, but it has boom periods which are mainly New Year’s, Cherry Blossom season, peak of summer (to escape the heat) and Autumn leaves season. Another thing that draws people to Mt Takao is that sometimes you can see Diamond Fuji from the Momiji viewing deck of Mt Takao, an opportunity is coming up this month in fact.  Diamond Fuji is estimated to be viewable around 4.15 pm on December 17th and possibly a day or two either side of that.

ZOOM IN: NEW YEAR’S DAY

Regarding New Years, it is hard to believe, but people hike up Mt Takao (or take the cable car) on New Year’s eve or very early New Year’s morning in the dark and bitter cold.  Accordingly, the cable car runs through the night.  In fact the cable car runs from 8 am on December 31st until 6.30 pm on January 1st to accommodate the throes of visitors on one of the popular New Year’s pilgrimages in the Greater Tokyo area.

There are three main incentives to do this:

  1.  to see the first sunrise of the year, which is generally around 6.48 am
  2.  to see Mt Fuji for the first time in the year (weather permitting of course) and
  3. to participate in Yakuo-in Temple‘s New Year welcoming rituals including “the festival to welcome the light”.

This temple also follows the traditional custom of gonging the Temples Gong 108 times to dispel evil. The Keio Takao San hot spring is open over New Year’s, but from January 1st to 3rd they charge an extra 200 yen, so 1,200 yen per person.

Mt Takao is very accessible by car from Saitama and Tokyo, if you are on the Ken-O expressway. From Tokyo it is quite convenient by train, but unfortunately from Saitama the train is a bit more tricky. By both car and train it takes less than an hour to get to Mt Takao from Tokyo. From Western Saitama it takes about an hour by car or train. The station you use to access Mt Takao is Takaosanguchi on the Keio Takao Line. On weekends and holidays two trains on the Toei Shinjuku Line also continue on to Takaosanguchi station. The exit on the Ken-O expressway is Takaosan. The Mt Takao cable car website has full information on how to access Mt Takao.


埼玉県の圏央道の近くに住んでいれば、高尾山は結構近いです。いつでも綺麗ですが、客様が多いときあります。お正月、花見、夏と紅葉の時期です。

 

去年、紅葉のときに行ってきました。先に知りませんでしたけど、天気方法によって、高尾山の紅葉の一番綺麗の日の発表あったそうです。ですから、ものすごく混んでいました。圏央道の高尾山インターチェンジから混みました。しかし、行って良かったです。

Hanasaki Water Park | Kazo

Facility Map of Hanasaki Park
We have only been to Hanasaki Water Park once, due to the distance from our house, but it made quite an impression on me. It isn’t a huge park, but there is a lot to do in the relatively small area. So much so, I recommend it as one of those parks that it is worth a journey to, even just once. That is, if you are in Saitama!

POOLS AND BIKES

There are two main attractions of this park. One is the water park, which is available from mid July to end of August. It has a number of different pools, including one for kids, and a Jacuzzi . You can also rent floats, pool beds and a boat for a separate charge. The other main attraction is the bike hire which includes some pretty unusual and fun bikes. The bikes are charged by the hour for the number of people that can ride them. They have quirky bikes for one, tandems for two (of course!), even a car bike, for want of a better description. Its a bike in the shape of a car, or maybe a car that you cycle! Oh…maybe we call them pedal cars – please comment if you know the answer! Whatever you call it; its great fun. The kids loved this the most.




ATTRACTIONS GALORE!

The park has a lot to offer other than the most popular attractions. The playground has a great big combination piece of equipment. Beside it there are some spring rides and small slides suited to small children. They also have stepping stones, climbing rungs, a little house and other pieces of equipment. There is a large gasebo beside the play area with benches and a couple of tables. Nearby is a wading river that opens early June. The BBQ area can be used during that time too. There is also a scenic river on the far side of the park lined with magnificent conifer (meta sequoia) trees. There is a walkway beside with a wooden path over a type of lotus pond, with other beautiful scenery in different seasons.  There is a lake with pedal AND swan boats for hire. The pools are used as fishing ponds out of season (don’t want to think about that too much!).  The battery cars in the pool area are accessible most of the year. They have putter golf and sports grounds. There is a small flower garden maze and a wide open grass area.  There is even a restaurant, but it closes during off season.  You can find up-to-date costs for each activity on the website, which is linked below.

So you see, it is a park worth visiting at some point, even out of summer season.  If you do plan to go during the summer, please see the up-to-date charges on the website, linked below. The park also recommends that you arrive early to get a parking spot, particularly on Saturdays when the park is at its busiest.

INFORMATION

**Please note that some of the services are not available on Mondays, except during the 6 weeks of summer holidays**

Bicycle costs at Hanasaki Park
Costs to hire the bikes, Putter Golf and Table Tennis at Hanasaki Water Park in 2015

Please see the website for up-to-date costs.

Address: 1722 Mizubuka, Kazo, Saitama

Tel: 0480-65-7155

URL: http://www.parks.or.jp/kazohanasaki/about.html (Japanese only)

Access

Train: About a 15 minute walk from Tobu Isesaki Line Hanasaki Station

Car: Approximately 3 kilometers from Kazo Interchange of the ken-o expressway.
Parking: Free out of pool season, but once the pool opens it costs 820 yen for the day. Spaces for up to 1,200 cars. Between April and September the car park is open from 8am to 6.30pm. From October to March it closes at 5.30pm.




Heisei no Mori, Kawajima Town, West Saitama

“This way to Japan’s longest rose tunnel”

Heisei no Mori is a park in West Saitama in a town that has recently become better known, due to its exit on the Ken-o Expressway.  Kawajima town, also referred to as Kawashima town,  is beside the cities of Sakado, Kawagoe,  Higashimatsuyama and Okegawa.

The park has started to make its mark and become more popular and famous due to its claim on having the longest rose tunnel in Japan. It is 330.5 metres long. 日本一長いバラのトンネル. Their annual park festivals are also becoming more known and popular in the last few years. The wading pool and river is often listed in summer travel magazines for kids, adding to it’s increasing popularity. The drive-thru Starbucks I pass on route, is an added attraction for me.  However, lack of public transport to the park and it’s distance from a train station ensures that the park is never too crowded.

Rose Tunnel Gallery

Heisei no Mori has a large playground with combination equipment including, but not limited to, a long slide, climbing walls and nets, and smaller slides. There is also a sandpit, spring rides, a flying fox and a smaller combination unit for young children.  Beside the rose tunnel there is also a small playground for younger children. There is no shade in the large playground and limited shade in the small playground. However, they also have a particularly nice splash pool and wading river,the latter of which is shaded in many parts.The wading river starts running at the weekends first, during the month of May and eventually is available daily.

Playground gallery

There is no restaurant or shop on the premises, but there is a cafe at one exit of the park. There is also a library and public hall beside the park. There are 3 toilets in the park.  Parking is free.  The park holds three annual festivals. One on boys day, May 5th, one toward the end of May in celebration of the roses, and one on the 23rd of November.  Apart from the rose garden, there is a lotus pond and many flowers including the flower of Kawajima town, the Iris Ensata. The park is quite pretty throughout the seasons.  You will see artists and photographers alike capturing the beauty of the flowers in this park.  There are some sporting facilities in the park including a running track, soccer field and fishing.

Wading River and Paddling Pool Gallery

Access:
By train and bus – Take a bus, from East exit of Tobu Tojo line Kawagoe station, bound for Konosu. 20 minute walk from 「川島農協前」(Kawajima Nokyou mae) bus stop.
By car – 5 minute drive from the Kawajima exit of the Ken-O expressway.

 

Contact:
TEL: 049-297-5701

URL: http://www.town.kawajima.saitama.jp/

The Iris of Heisei no Mori

THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED ON ANOTHER BLOG.