Review of Fukurou No Mori, glamping style barbecue and outdoor cafe with dog run in scenic Ranzan Valley
Fukurou no Mori, an outdoor cafe and barbecue site with dog run in Ranzan, celebrated its one year anniversary this month. Last year I shared the official website information about the opening on the In Saitama Facebook page, but I didn’t get to check it out until yesterday.
Fukurou no Mori lifted our spirits after a somewhat disappointing, and brief, visit to Ranzan Valley Barbecue site, which is minutes away both on foot or by car. (There is a short cut when walking). It lived up to my expectations as it matches the reviews and idyllic photos you can see online.
It is a beautifully done outdoor cafe and barbecue site with a decent sized dog run. It has a campsite or more accurately glamping feel to it.
There is seating in the forest a short walk away and seating in the garden by the three log houses – the kitchen, the cafe and the toilets.
Both areas have barbecue facilities as well as general seating for the cafe customers. And they have hammocks too. On a hot day tarps provide shade and there is one area that has a roof for permanent shade.
Fukurou means owl and they have owl motifs, statues and paraphernalia all around the grounds. They also have lots of dog statues as well as other cute knickknacks adorning the garden.
The barbecue needs to be booked in advance. It costs from 3,500 yen per person. That includes all your meat (pork, chicken, beef), vegetables, yaki soba and all the necessary equipment for barbecuing. They have a set for children from six years of age that costs 2,200 yen.
The café is self service. You order from the kitchen and they give you a buzzer to notify you when your food is ready. When it buzzes you go up to the kitchen to collect your food or to the café if you’ve ordered shaved ice. It is an ideal location in 2020 to avoid the “three C’s”. That is, you can maintain a safe social distance from others and there is no need to go indoors. Even ordering your food you only have to step into the cottage for a second. And the door of the kitchen is never closed so it is well ventilated.
Flavoured shaved ice or Snow Cones as they are often called, are a specialty of this café. They harvest the ice in February in Yamanashi Prefecture. There are various toppings for the snow cones.
My daughter had the strawberry one made with cream and real strawberry pieces. It was truly delicious. Snow cones are available between April and October.
Apart from Tennen Kakigori, they have other specialty items. Like their homemade juices. Flavours depend on the season. You can get a plain 100% orange juice as well. Pancakes are not on the fixed menu, but they seem to have them available on most days.
The main fixed menu includes burger dishes and variations of it such as Loco Moco. You can also get homemade vegetable curry, pasta and udon. They have coffee and they serve alcohol too. There is a nice bar area in the forest and there is another bar in the café log house too.
From the forest area you can walk down to a picturesque area of the Tsuki River. There are steps with wood chip which are easy to walk on and relatively safe. The path by the river leads to Ranzan Valley Barbecue site to the right. To the left there are gorgeous stepping stones which, if you cross over, bring you to a hiking trail.
A couple of cons
It says on the website that it opens at 10 am, but that is the barbecue site only. Nowhere did it say that the cafe doesn’t open until 11.30 am. There was also no signs in or around the kitchen. In fairness, their food chalkboards weren’t out on display, but it would have been useful to know in advance.
We rocked up shortly after “opening” and the staff were friendly, but they failed to mention that the cafe wasn’t open for another hour and a half. It was only when I asked for the menu that they divulged that key piece of information! It did give us time to explore the area and build up an appetite. And the area is well worth exploring.
The other con is that they don’t have the full menu everyday. They do mention this, in the small print, of their website. But they don’t update the website daily to say what and what not is available that day. I had planned to have the 100% beef burger, but it wasn’t available that day. The chalk boards have the daily fare listed.
My main incentive to visit Fukurou no Mori this week was the Ranzan Lavender Festival. It opens next week and I was information gathering for some clients so that they can make the most of their visit to Japan’s largest lavender field. This is definitely a great location for oversea visitors to experience an outdoor barbecue while in Japan.
It was perfect timing with my four year old on a day off from preschool. She loved it as much as I did, maybe more! She has been talking about it non stop since our visit. We are out and about a lot and go to many child friendly locations for the kids, but I think it was the picturesqueness of this location that stole a place in her heart.
Fukurou No Mori Information
Hours: Wednesdays to Sundays from 10 am to 6 pm for the barbecue. Cafe from 11.30 am. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Cost: budget for upwards of 900 yen for the cafe. Barbecue from 3,500 yen per person. The dog run costs 700 yen per dog.
Address: 2687-2 Kamagata, Ranzan, Hiki-gun, Saitama 355-0225
A scenic 40 minute walk from Musashi Ranzan station on the Tobu Tojo Line.
Eight kilometers from both the Higashimatsuyama and Ranzan Ogawa Interchanges of the Kanetsu expressway.