Just over the Saitama border, Mahoba No Mori campsite and Forest Adventure Ueno are perched unobtrusively on the side of a lush mountain. They are located in the stunning and tranquil Ueno Mura which is part of the unspoiled Tano District. A formidable skybridge, an attraction in itself, links one mountain top to another, giving quick and easy access to Kawawa Natural Park, the Fujido caves and a fun free playground on the far side of the valley.
As the crow flies Mahoba no Mori is only about two kilometers from Ogano Town (Saitama), but as you have to use a winding sequestered mountain road, you actually have to drive about 8 kilometers. If you are coming on the picturesque route 299 a beautiful mountain tunnel marks the divide between the two prefectures. As you exit the tunnel a large “Gunma Prefecture” sign welcomes you to the unspoiled mountain region of Ueno Mura in the Tano District.
The Tano District is hands down thee most untainted rural and natural mountaineous area I have ever been to in Japan. Ueno village, which is part of the region, bestows stunning unrepressed natural landscapes. Thanks to the remoteness the night sky is brilliant, particularly between November and February when you can literally see thousands of glittering stars. They call it a natural planetarium! Mahoba No Mori is a forest in the village with wild camping grounds, log cabins, Forest Adventure Ueno (a treetop challenge) and Ueno Skybridge. My husband, who has been day camping around the Kanto plain for at least 30 years, remarked how the rivers in the Tano District have the clearest and cleanest fresh water he’s ever seen.
Mahoba No Mori Campsite and Log cabins
In keeping with the nature of the surroundings, the campsite is about as wild as you can get in a designated camping zone in the Kanto area. There are some truly wild areas that aren’t official campsites, where you are permitted to pitch a tent, but in so far as “campsites” go Mahoba no Mori is about as wild as you can get. The signs and camp rules indicating that food or rubbish is not to be left out to prevent an unwanted visit from a bear are sure reminders of just how wild the site is.
Facilities at Mahoba No Mori campsite
We had been camping as a family a few times, so the wilderness of the area didn’t daunt us, but it may not be the best place for a first camping experience. The sites are what are called “free sites” in Japan, which indicate they have no electrical outlet. (Auto sites are the ones with a plug or source of electricity). The toilets in the camping area are squatters. There are sinks to wash dishes, but there is only freezing cold water. They do have sponges and washing up liquid that you can use freely. Furthermore, there are no showers, bath or hot springs. There is a hot spring a few minutes drive down the mountain. Ironically, further up the hill in the area where the cabins are there are a few more facilities including a restaurant with Western toilets and hot water. There are a couple of free play areas around the camp and cabin areas including a small grass slide. There is a large grass slide too, but it is currently under renovation.
Mahoba no Mori information
The site used to be open everyday of the year, but (update 2020) the tent sites are now only available April to the end of November. I don’t know if that is temporary. It costs 3,500 yen per site. Check in is 2 pm for overnight, 9 am for day camp. Check out is 10 am for an overnight stay and 5 pm for day campers. You can book from up to 6 months in advance. A 4 person cottages cost around 20,000 yen and for 8 people it is about 30,000 yen. In 2020 they are are part of the Go To Campaign and there is a 35% discount on cabins. You can see up to date prices and further details on the official website (Japanese language only).
Forest Adventure Ueno
Across the road from the camping area is a large parking area. It is for the Forest Adventure Ueno treetop athletic challenge. It is a relatively new branch of the popular tree top park brand. Part of the course was right by where we pitched our tent. And judging by the customers we saw come and go, it is more popular with adults than children. It was a beautiful view: zip line and tree top adventure course back-dropped by the valley 700 feet below.
What is Forest Adventure?
From the official website: “outdoor parks in harmony with nature”. It is an athletic course in the tree tops. You are hooked up to a safety harness that moves with you around the tree top playground of sorts. Children over 110 centimetres tall can use the facilities, but they have to be accompanied by an adult if they are under 3rd grade (8 years old). An adult can supervise up to four children at a time. The website has full comprehensive general details about Forest Adventure and the branch in the Tano District.
The branch in Ueno also has a basic english web page. The cost is 2,800 yen per person. There is no discount for guests of the camp site. It is open 9 am to 5 pm Friday to Wednesday, closed on Thursdays. It requires booking in advance.
The Ueno Mura skybridge is accessible through a tunnel near the main reception area of Mahoba No Mori. There is a car park beside the tunnel for day trippers and the general public to use the bridge too. A coin box at the entrance requests 100 yen per person over 6 years old for passage. There are free playgrounds either side of the skybridge; the playground on the opposite side to Mahoba No Mori has a long roller slide.
The bridge is about 2700 feet above sea level. The Ueno Mura valley below is about 2000~2100 feet above sea level. If you are afraid of heights its best to walk across when there is no-one else on it as it does shake when there is a group on it or if kids are running across it. The views from the bridge are breath-taking, especially in Autumn during when the autumn foliage brings bursts of colour. There is an apparatus on the bridge that blows bubbles between April and November only every 30 minutes between 10 am and 3.30 pm. The bridge itself is open from early morning until 5 pm.
Guests of the campsite receive a discount ticket to the Fujido caves which are a short walk from the far side of the Ueno Skybridge. The regular entrance cost is 800 yen for adults and 500 for children of school going age (6 to 15 years old). They are open from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm except in winter when they open at 10 am and close at 3 pm.
While Mahoba No Mori campsite wouldn’t be my first choice in terms of camping facilities, it definitely is in terms of scenery. And we plan to go back one Autumn to witness the vibrant valley foliage. The campsite has a lot of repeat customers so it is advisable to book in advance. The season for tent sites is April to the end of November. Booking for the campsite, the cottages and a nearby hotel “Villa Sesaragi” can be done through the official website: http://uenomura-tabi.com/top/reserve/ (I have no affiliation to this website, nor did I receive any remuneration or discounts for sharing this information). You can also book the cottages through Rakuten:
Mahoba no Mori- Rakuten Travel
Mahoba no Mori- Rakuten Travel
Mahobano Mori is a heated cabin-style hotel that is surrounded by pleasant greenery and mountains. …., the hotel has a restaurant, a recreational area, as well as a barbecue area where guests may enjoy fun cookouts. All guest cabins are clean, cozy and come with kitchenettes as well as a stunning view. There is also an outdoor pizza oven, and guests may pay the hotel for ingredients.
Mahoba No Mori / Ueno Skybridge / Forest Adventure Ueno Mura Access
Mahoba No Mori and all the nearby facilities in Ueno Mura in the Tano District of Gunma can be accessed by car from route 299. The turn for the mountain road that brings you to Mahoba No Mori is at Villa Sesaragi Hotel. The nearest highway exit is Shimonita on the Joshinetsu highway.
By public transport you can get a taxi from Shimonita Station on the Joshin Denetsu private railway line. It takes about 30 minutes. Please note that the bus Rakuten travel mentions does not seem to be currently in operation.
Other campsites on this blog
- Nagatoro Autocamp, Chichibu, Saitama
- Waterpark Nagatoro, Chichibu, Saitama
- Tsuchiuchi, Chichibu, Saitama
- Ryokami Sanroku, Ogano, Saitama
- Kawasemi-gawara, Yorii, Saitama
- Opark (formerly Youpark / Little Indian Village), Ogose, Saitama
- Kinomura, Tokigawa, Saitama
- Comoriver, Tokigawa, Saitama
- Santa Hills, Tochigi
- Nasunogahara, Nasu, Tochigi
- Moose Family Camp resort, Tochigi
- Kawaba Denen Akari, Gunma
- Hisuruma, Shibakawa, Gunma
- Greenpark Fukiware, Gunma