Midori no Mura, Ogano, Chichibu – Driving up through Yokoze and Chichibu Town there was a definite chill in the air. I felt thankful we’d packed some sleeping bags and blankets for our one night stay in log cabins in Ogano. We had packed the additional covers even though futons and duvets are provided at the campsite, because we expected it to be cold. However, when we eventually arrived at the heavily wooded hilltop retreat, we were surprised by how hot and humid it was at 630 metres.
Our camping plans changed last minute this past bank holiday weekend. We were supposed to go to Akagi with friends of ours, but due to unforeseen circumstances they had to cancel last minute. We ended up cancelling our booking too, as it didn’t feel right going without them. Thankfully, another friend and their family were game to come on a spur of the moment trip with us, if we could find a campsite.
Despite the hundreds of campsites all over Kanto I was finding it very hard to get one with an opening. I decided to try Midori no Mura in Ogano, which is on the long list of places of interest culled from my favourite little book about Saitama**. I wasn’t sure what type of campsite it was, but upon ringing, it turned out that we couldn’t pitch a tent there. However, they have log cabins which are only 9,000 yen a night, so we decided to book it. As did our friends. (**AMAZON AFFILIATE LINK. Costs you nothing to click, but if you purchase something I may get a small percentage of the sale).
What I had pictured from the Internet and in my book, was very different to what we actually discovered. For instance, I had conjured up an image of the playground, pool and other facilities being only a short walk from the cottages. And as the crow flies they would be. Only you have to navigate the steep inclines and declines of the prescribed path from the campsite. Otherwise you are at risk at getting lost or even worse falling in the woods. It was a surprise to gauge the reality; initially a bit of disappointment, but at the end of the day a pleasant surprise. For the experience of staying in real log cabins perched atop a hill immersed in nature and tranquility was worth not having the playground, pool and other facilities at your doorstep.
Arriving to Midori No Mura Resort and Park in Ogano, Chichibu
As you turn into Midori No Mura from the Iida entrance you drive up an avenue. My guess is that they are sakura cherry blossom trees lining the avenue. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I googled I couldn’t confirm that! The avenue brings you to a fairly large car park and the entrance to the RV parking area.
As a first timer who’d picked this place last minute I really wasn’t sure where to go from here. And unless there is a special event on, there are no staff floating about. There is a large map, clearly visible from the car park. But we still weren’t sure where to go. They do request you arrive before 4.30 pm and I think that is because the cafe beside the car park is still open. You can ask in there for directions. Which is exactly what we did, just as my friend was walking out with her directions where to go next!
The road as you leave the car park toward both the retreat centre and the campsite gave me goosebumps. There was something very inviting and evoking about it. Once you turn the first corner the incline steepens even further. And the sign for the campsite isn’t very clear. If you go straight up you get to the retreat centre. If you go toward the right and then turn up, for want of a better description, it will put you on the right (and very steep) road to the campsite’s management office.
Midori No Mura Campsite Management and Office
Where the road turns around a bend you will see a car park on the right. You initially park there to check in with the management office staff. There is another map here, but it is only for the campsite not the full complex. There is a picnic area here too. And the showers which are detailed below. There is also a look out tower with great views of Mt Buko.
The night we were there, there was only one staff member and he was responsible for caretaking. He stayed the night too. In one of the vacant cabins as far as we could tell. He provided us with his mobile number so that we could ring him because he goes up and down to the park and around the whole resort. It turned out very useful to be able to contact him this way (more on that later!).
Midori No Mura Log Cabins
Not only were the extra blankets we brought not necessary due to the humidity that day. But also because the log cabins are warm in themselves. They are very well built from actual logs, not like other cabins we have stayed in before made from cheap wood with lots of cracks. And Midori No Mura campsite provide both a duvet and woolly blanket. But for good measure, they also provide a kotatsu in the room.
The say the cabins are for five people. You can fit five futons side to side comfortably. But you could also easily squeeze another couple in along the sides. There were six of us on five futons with plenty of space left, even with our heaps of baggage. They also have larger cabins for two families to share. They have two bedrooms, a communal area and one bathroom.
There are two oshiire (wardrobes) in the room with the futons, blankets and pillows in them. But there is also space for luggage. There is an alcove between the two oshiire too. The alcove is where the fridge and kotatsu are. And there is room in this area for a bit of luggage too. There is a window in this alcove. As well as a window either side of the sleeping space and the front door is a patio type door. So there is plenty of light. Each window and the front door have curtains. To the left of the patio door is another door. It is into the toilet and hand sink area. This area is surprisingly clean and evidently well insulated as even in the dead night it was warm.
Outside the log cabins
The log cabin has a little veranda / porch in front of the sliding doors that act as the front door. These doors are lockable. And the windows are lockable from the inside. There is a shoe box on the veranda. A proper closable one, that keeps your shoes bug free!
There are picnic tables with shelter near each log cabin. Our cabin happened to have one either side. One of which had three tables. There was also an area here where you can light a campfire. It was perfect for our two families. Nearby is a sink area with washing up liquid and dish cloths and scrubbers provided. There was even two wooden tables that made washing up even easier. There were hooks for hanging my personal favourite camping item: the drying net!
Beside this area were bins for recycable rubbish. Burnable rubbish needs to be brought to the management office were there is a burnable rubbish storage area.
The car park you use for the managment office is also where the hot showers are. There are two separate rooms for men and women. Both have about 6 shower cubicles separated by curtains. There are also two separate shower rooms. They don’t supply towels, but they may have them for rent. We had our own towels with us just in case. They do provide clean sheets though for the bedding. Which incidentally you make up and put away yourself.
Why we were glad of the caretaker’s mobile number
I mentioned above that we were glad to have the caretakers phone number. The reason was that on the pathway between our cabin and that of our friends there was a beehive in a tree. The tree was beside a picnic table we had chosen for our after-the-kids-go-to-bed booze up. It was ideal because it was bang smack in the middle of the two cabins. We didn’t notice the hive at first, even though it was at eye level and jammed with bees. The caretaker came to take care of it, pardon the pun! He was armed with a bee killing spray and masking tape. Nothing else. Not even protective clothing. I kid you not. He sprayed the hive and then covered up the hole with masking tape. Two minutes, done. Not a bead of sweat or any water off his back.
The caretaker was great with the kids. On the second day he brought them a load of chestnuts to crack open. The resort holds lots of events for kids and there are great facilities in the park. But those details are for a separate post on another day! But to give you a small sample; they have playgrounds, outdoor pools, karaoke and the events include cooking, crafting and nature events among others.
I really enjoyed our stay in Midori No Mura in Ogano Chichibu. We were particularly lucky that the weekend we were there the famous Ryusei festival was on. We could see the rocket streams from one part of the site. That night we could also hear and see some of the fireworks. The next day there was a festival on in the resort itself. The kids were in their element; between the cabins, the playground and all that was on offer at the festival Midori No Mura certainly left an indelible impression on them.
Of the four sites we have been to this year, I think this goes down as my favourite. My twenty-year old self would not have been able to stay at this site though. Because it is so rural and remote. There are bugs of every description everywhere. Except in the cabins thankfully. And then there was that experience with the bees! But my forty-year old self relished the very remoteness of it all. Plus the view, all the nature, the facilities…just the whole experience.
Each campsite to date had something different to offer. Nagatoro Autocamp should probably get the accolade for most family friendly. But I connected with Midori No Mura more than anywhere else. I would put it down to the excellent company we were in, but they were with us on another two of our camps too! So while it was a contributing factor, it wasn’t the main reason. All the events and facilities probably added to the overall impression I walked away with. But we are no strangers to events and facilities on that level. It could well be all the trees. They say tree therapy is a real thing and adds years to your life! It certainly added a bounce to my step the weekend we were there. We left feeling very refreshed and this is the only campsite we’ve been to, to date, that we are eager to revisit.
Season: Early May to early November
Check in: Between 1 and 3 pm
Check out: 10 am
Address: 〒368-0111 Saitama-ken, Chichibu-shi, Kamiyoshida, 埼玉県秩父郡小鹿野町飯田857−4−00
Phone number: 090-3916-8871