The area of Hidaka is so rich in nature and a beautiful place to enjoy a scenic drive and even some hiking with children. Many years ago, my husband and I used to visit the area often on our way to Chichibu to escape the summer heat. We often stopped at a shrine with a preserved house that I never realised, until our visit last week, is the famous Koma shrine. To be honest, it is not a shrine I rank highly, but they do have great events and if you are in the area it might be worth a quick stop off. I do, however, recommend either walking or driving (on the way to/) from there to the truly magnificent Shoden-in Temple, which is much more aesthetic, especially in Autumn.
On our most recent trip to Hidaka the stops to the afore mentioned religious institutions were last on our route. We had actually started out in neighbouring Hanno with a short hike followed by a splash in the river. Next stop was the Gojyou Waterfalls. Coming from Hanno as you cross over the city border into Hidaka, just at that Seibu Ikebukuro Line Musashi Yokote station is the almost miss-able turn for the Gojyou Waterfall. If you are coming by train, you alight at this station and it is approximately a 30 minute walk sans kids, with them (depending on their age) it could possibly take double due to the steady incline of the 2 kilometre walk. By car, the tricky part is parking. The nearest car park is quite a distance away. We actually drove quite close to the waterfall, but I definitely would not recommend that at all. We made a mistake as we did not realise just how narrow and dangerous the road was, and we actually had to reverse back down the mountain as the car was not able to manage the steep incline as you near the waterfall. The incline at that part is at least 20%, but I would guess nearer 30% and our car literally conked out in defiance. It was terrifying backing down an old narrow mountain road. We ended up parking in a verge on the side of the road much further down the hill. I am not even sure if it was an actual car spot, but it looked like it had been used for the same purpose before.
The sign for the waterfall is posted to a tree, just as the road steepens severely. You come off the easy to walk and/or push an off-road buggy, to a beautiful hiking trail. I recommend you park the stroller at the verge on the other side of the road. You cross a make-shift bridge made from a fallen tree with wood slabs screwed on. The waterfall is not far at all, so young kids can manage it, but they do need to be careful. There is a lot of moss on the ground and on the tree roots and stones. There is a sign to watch out for boar too and we saw a mamushi (poisonous snake) further down the road. There are occasionally bears in the area too. It is not a huge waterfall and the trail back to the road is ridiculously short, but the beauty of the area was worth it for us and it was an easy trail for my kids who are 2 (this month), 4, 5 and 7 years old. We passed many families on our walk as well as a group of boy scouts.
The Japanese sougou 総合 is used to indicate a multi-purpose park and that is exactly what Hidaka Sougou park is.
The park is free in, with free parking. Here is some of the attractions it has to offer.
This playground was installed in March 2013, replacing a wooden athletic playground. Now it is a colourful combination equipment playground that suits children of many ages. There are climbing nets, monkey bars, balancing beams, slides, spring rides and sand pits. All, but the sand pits, displayed in photos hereafter.
This park boasts a 165 metre long “babbling brook” (せせらぎ水路） with a paddling pool at the base.
The wading river is protected by the trees, which afford shade during the hot summer.
Exercise Equipment & Flying Fox
There is also exercise equipment and a flying fox in the wooded area beside the playground.
Sporting facilities and club house
There are tennis courts, a baseball pitch, a soccer pitch and 400 metre running track, that can be used at a charge. The club house manages bookings. There is a shower room and toilets in the club house. The website and contact details are here: http://www.city.hidaka.lg.jp/6,998,24,105.html
Hanami / Cherry Blossom Viewing Picnic Area
Hidaka Sougou Park is a popular spot during Japanese Cherry Blossom season. There is a long line of trees alongside the river with dedicated space for setting up picnic mats under the trees.
The wooded area in Hidaka is ripe with wildlife during the summer. It is possible to catch beetles and stag beetles to keep as pets; a popular hobby of young Japanese children.
Kids love to collect acorns in Japan. This is one of many parks in Saitama, where you can find acorns.
There are toilets in the park, two of which are right beside the playground. There is a drinking fountain. There are changing rooms and showers in the Club House, which can be used at a price.
By Car: Off route 407, near Musashi Takahagi train station, right beside Hidaka Country Club.
By Train: 15 minute walk from Musashi Takahagi Station on the Kawagoe line.
A DAY OUT IN HIDAKA
There are other nice parks and play areas near this park in Hidaka. I recommend Chikozan Park in neighbouring Sayama, with a small zoo and fun playground, and Saiboku Ham, which has a free play area, plus you can pay to enjoy an onsen there. The Saiboku onsen was recently reopened after a big reform.
Written in November 2012, updated February 2015 and 2017.
Saiboku is often described as a food theme park, but for me that conjures up images of an amusement park… with sausages! Which it is not. I am not sure how to describe it: it kind of feels like an outdoor mall or maybe a themed village. Whatever way you want to describe it, there is no denying it is a fun day out for a family with young kids.
The brand name Saiboku is most famous for its award-winning ham and sausage meat. It is processed in a factory in this complex, the head office of Saiboku. Many of their products have received food awards over the years, even on an International level. The resort in Hidaka is as known for its onsen (hot springs) as it is for the selection of shops and eateries. There are a number of eateries on the premises mostly serving pork products, but there is also a vegetable shop and bakery, as well as a selection of fast or finger foods and desserts. On top of all that there is an adventure playground, pig sty, pitch and putt, garden, pond with carp fish and craft workshops. They often have temporary market stalls too, that sell anything from jewelry to clothes. The hot springs have further facilities, but that’s a post for another day!
The adventure playground is on the West side of the hot spring and it is free. The playground is actually quite small, with one big combination unit, but it is surprisingly engaging for children playing together up to about 8 years old. It might be less engaging for a child older than five there on his/her own. The likelihood of a child playing there on their own is quite small though, as even on the coldest winters weekday, there is always a couple of families knocking about. The play unit has a lot of climbing features and 2 wide bumpy slides. It is beside the pig pen; home to three popular pigs. There is a tunnel beside the pig sty that kids enjoy running through. This area also has some gazebos, one of which has a table. Both have benches. You can eat food in the gazebos. There is an array of drink vending machines beside the one with tables. There is no smoking in this area, but there is at least one smoking area in the complex.
One of the kid’s favourite eateries in the complex is the “Saiboku Cafeteria” as it sells ice-cream. They have two different types of ice-cream: soft cream and scooped ice-cream. The latter you can get on a cone or in a cup. They have vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, green tea and sweet potato flavour. On the weekends you get the ice-cream from a window on the outside of the building (pictured below) where they also sell popcorn. Can you spot the flying pig in the picture!?
The indoor section is quite small and not particularly exciting, but they have high chairs with safety straps in the indoor section of this cafeteria. I so rarely see safety straps on high chairs in Japan that they really stood out to me. They are like the Stokke stepped high chairs. They also have a hand basin with a step for children to use. In the special needs toilet beside the cafeteria they provide a child’s toilet seat that can be placed on top of the regular toilet seat. I found these little extras to be very convenient for my toddlers. They don’t have a family toilet like in so many places these days, but they do have a changing mat at the entrance to the women’s toilet. A man could use it too, without having to go right into the women’s toilets. There is a great outdoor seating area outside this cafeteria. It can be used to eat any food bought on Saiboku premises.
One of the places I like to buy a quick and cheerful lunch for the kids on a day out in Sayama is the bakery which is at the back of the meat shop. It isn’t huge, but there is a good selection. They sell nice sandwiches as well as a choice of baked breads. The pig shaped bread filled with chocolate is popular with children. My kids like the sausage roll on a stick.
According to Saiboku themselves their spare ribs are their best selling food. Google reviews confirms this! The spare ribs are sold in one of the many kiosk type eateries; the one nearest the vegetable shop. The building is currently undergoing renovations, but they are open for business. There is always a queue there, but on weekdays it isn’t too bad. On weekends the queue can be very long.
The award winning restaurant, which is near the playground, often has a queue at lunch time on the weekends too. Beside it is a food van with a funny name, Hareru Ya or Hallelujah, that sells crepes. The van’s bonnet is designed like a dog. Other eateries include window boothes that sell a variety of pork products such as katsu and skewered pork.
Saiboku has a point card system. Any adult can sign up for a card. It costs 200 yen for a new member, but they have days that the new membership fee is wavered. A card is valid for a year after your last purchase. You can earn points in the shops, restaurants and hot spring. For every 200 yen you spend (not including tax) you earn 1 point. Every Monday you can earn double points. You can also earn “eco points”; 2 points per visit, for not using a plastic bag when you purchase more than two items. If you collect over 500 points you get a 500 yen discount coupon. They occasionally have double points on other days too.
Saiboku also runs cooking and crafting events. They have special plans as well such as entry into the onsen, with a meal and 500 yen shopping ticket for a set price. They also sometimes organise tours that leave from Saiboku to do, for example, fruit picking. The onsen has live music performances a couple of times a month. Each month you can pick up a flyer with the month’s events at Saiboku, or you can check for information on their website (Japanese only):
It can be a little bit tricky to get there the first time, but if you’re using an up-to-date GPS it will guide you. Phone number in the Google Map below. The bus system seems to be very good and they have the times on their website.
From the Hidaka Interchange, facing Kawagoe, it takes about 5 minutes. Saiboku’s phone number 042-985-0869.
Train and bus
From the West exit of SAYAMA CITY station on the Seibu Shinjuku line take a bus to Saiboku onsen. It takes approximately 17 minutes.
From the West exit of TSURUGASHIMA on the Tobu Tojo line a bus to the terminal of the hotspring takes about 25 minutes.
UPDATE ON FEBRUARY 13TH 2015 – the onsens have been re-opened further to renovations after being closed early in 2013 due to bacteria in the water which killed two people.
Approximately a 5 minute drive from Saiboku is the Botanical Garden parking lot of CHIKOZAN PARK:
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Multi-purpose park with Campsite, BBQ, Zoo, Fishing, Sport facilities, Athletic Playground, Multi-use Playground, Beautiful Flora and Fauna. Chikozan Park in Sayama is close to the controversial prâ¦