On a recent camping trip we had the great pleasure to stay beside the award winning Kawaba Denen Plaza roadside station. Kawaba is only about an hour from Northern / Western Saitama. The area is known for its apple orchards and picking farms. There are many parks in the area as well as organised activities. It is also an area known by avid skiers and snowboarders and Kawaba Ski resort is just 30 minutes away. In recent years though, Kawaba is best known for this, its premium roadside station.
Kawaba Denen Plaza
Kawaba Denen Plaza has won the accolade as the best roadside station in the Kanto region for five years in a row. It is more like a resort than a roadside station and there is plenty to entertain a family for a full day of fun and treats.
The plaza is always busy, particularly on weekends. When it is not attracting tourists, some of whom come just to delight in what is on offer, it pulls locals from near and far to do some food shopping in the acclaimed farmer’s market. The range of attractions is vast and diversified. Here are some of the main charms for families visiting the area:
- Farmers Market
- Choice of eateries
- Hot springs
- Fruit picking
- Play areas
- Special events and performances
Play areas at Kawaba Denen Plaza
There are several play areas for children in the complex. The three main ones are the playground, the grass slides and the graffiti wall.
The main playground is tucked away at the very back of the complex, concealed by the many eateries and shops in the shopping area. It has a large multipurpose piece in the foreground with climbing and slides. There are some adventure / athletic playground pieces further up the hill behind it as well as an unusual climbing frame at the back of the playground. The flying fox is opposite the adventure playground pieces. And in the centre in this area: a large grass area.
You could easily miss the playground, if you didn’t know to go seek it out. And that is exactly what we did after I spotted it on the map. It was actually the grass slide mentioned on the map that stole my attention:
Grass slides at Kawaba Denen Plaza
There is a large and small grass slide in the playground at Kawaba Denen roadside station. Amazingly, although we have paid to use a similar one in another campsite park, they are free to use and they even provide a loan of the sleighs for free. This was definitely the highlight of our visit to Kawaba Denen Plaza for all the kids in our group: ten kids aged between 3 and 10 years old. They all played on those grass slides for at least an hour, most of them for more.
In the Kawaba Premier building in front of the nursery beside the ladies toilet there are white boards that children can draw on. It is surprisingly popular and hard to get into the boards to write on them!
Kawaba Denen Plaza Pick Up
There are several different shops, workshops and restaurants in the complex as well as an onsen and the aforementioned playgrounds. Here are four of the places we visited while we were there that made an impression on us.
The farmers market is one of the busiest and most popular spots in the roadside station. Housed in a contemporary earthen store, there is a large choice of fresh vegetables and local produce.
Reasonably priced masonry oven cooked pizzas suitable for lunch or as a snack sharing. You can sit indoors, in a converted greenhouse, or out on the lawn.
Cafe De Campagne
Another of Kawaba Denen’s interesting buildings with both outdoor and indoor options. You can just get an ice-cream or have a sit in (or out) lunch. There is a kura on the grounds.
There are a few hands on experiences you can try at Kawaba Denen Plaza, such as this an one day pottery class. Booking in advance is not essential, but it is recommended. There are various courses ranging in price and most within the 15 to 30 minute time range.
Kawaba Denen Plaza Information and Access
The hours vary by shop and restaurant, but generally speaking the plaza is open from 10 am to at least 3 pm daily with most places being open until 6pm.
Kawaba Denen Plaza is approximately a 10 minute drive in the direction of Kawaba village from the Numata Interchange of the Kanetsu expressway. There are seven car parks that can accommodate approximately 700 cars.
By public transport you can either take a bus from Numata Station on the Joetsu line or a taxi from the Jomo Kogen station on the Joetsu shinkansen (bullet train) line.