Arakawa BBQ Kawasemigawara Yorii

Kawasemi-gawara is the name of a BBQ spot and cheap campsite by the Arakawa in Yorii, Saitama Prefecture. If you’ve ever been to the Saitama Museum of Rivers you will have seen it by the car park entrance to the river museum. You can also see it as you come over the Tamayodo bridge from Fukaya to Yorii. It is a really popular spot in summer for barbecue and river play. Until the autumn of 2020, it was free to use during the day and even at night for camping and there was just a 500 yen parking charge. However, things have changed since I first wrote this post in the summer of 2020. Not just because of the pandemic, but more significantly due to a national deregulation of riverside areas.

Kawasemi gawara

Arakawa bbq at Kawasemi Gawara Yorii

Kawasemi is the name of the flood plain at this part of the Arakawa in Yorii, Osato-gun Saitama. The camp / barbecue site takes it name from the kingfisher bird, which can be seen in this area. (It is also the symbol of the neighboring river museum). The flood plain is really wide as is this stretch of the river. Kawasemigawara is the name of the barbecue and camp area at this point along the Arakawa. It is marked in yellow in the photo from Google maps above. The blue line shows the route in from route 254.

Arakawa BBQ spot

The Arakawa or Ara River is a popular river for riverside barbecues in Saitama. One of the reasons is the width of the river and of the riverbeds. At Kawasemi-gawara the Arakawa is deep in some parts and shallow in others. Therefore you can both swim* and paddle at this Arakawa BBQ area. But also for this reason you do need to be careful as there are parts of the river where it suddenly deepens. The fire brigade come around a couple of times a day to remind people of this. *There are areas of the river where swimming is forbidden, they are clearly marked with large signs in both Japanese language and visual images.

Kawasemi gawara bbq area on the Arakawa near Hanazono Interchange

There are also large rocks in the river, which older children and adults like to jump off. In areas there are shallow pools formed by stones, rock and / or sediment which are great for toddlers to splash around in. The river beach is mostly gravel, stones and rocks, but there are some areas of sand. The riverbed is also quite stony, so river shoes are recommended for playing in the water.

Playing in the Arakawa

It is okay to use canoes here. Fishing is allowed too. And most play items are okay as well. However, you are not allowed launch fireworks and / or use sparklers (hand held fireworks).

Free Cheap Campsite

When I first wrote this post there was no charge to camp at Kawasemi. But in Autumn 2020 they started charging for overnight camping. At first it was 500 yen, but it quickly went up to 1000 yen, which includes the parking charge. However, if you come on foot is only 200 yen per person! At first that included a garbage disposal service, but they got rid of that pretty quickly. There are still garbage disposal areas, but you have to separate and organize your rubbish and bring it to the designated area yourself.

Facilities

As this post was written in 2020, I would advise you check the below is still accurate in 2024:

Kawasemi gawara Yorii Arakawa BBQ

At the barbecue area at Kawasemi BBQ spot there is nothing but the flood plain and river. There aren’t even toilets. However, there are toilets very nearby. They are just across the road from the entrance to the barbecue / campsite. The entrance to Kawasemi is marked by the green triangle campsite mark on the photo above. The toilets are in the yellow box! This is where the sinks are too.

Beside the toilets, the pindrop in the yellow box on the photo, there is a little shop that sells drinks, water, ice-cream, charcoal and some water play goods (such as fishing nets and balls). It is open from 10 am to 5 pm from Wednesday to Sunday, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. There are a couple of vending machines in front of the shop that are open 24-7. Beside the shop there is a small playground.

There are even showers / baths at a nearby facility too. There is actually a bath in the Kawasemi Elderly Welfare Center which is also across the road. It is marked in purple in the photo above. It is open from 10.30 am to 4 pm. The bath only costs 300 yen per adult (2020 prices). There is a children’s community center in the same building (jidokan) should the little ones want to get out of the sun for a while.

Nearby

Japan's largest water mill, waku waku land and attractions at Saitama Museum of rivers in Yorii Saitama Prefecture
Saitama Museum of Rivers

The Saitama Museum of Rivers, which has an excellent water adventure playground is just a three minute walk away. It is marked on red on the above photo from Google Maps. There is a 7-11 within walking distance too (not on the map). And by car there is lots within driving distance. If you want to catch some fish to grill on your barbie that day, I really recommend Fuppu Nijimasu Fishing Ponds which are only a 15 minute drive away. Garden Forest Hanazono and Hanazono Roadside Station (both in Fukaya) are only a 7 minute drive away.

Kawasemi-gawara Information

Address:315 Hodawara, Yorii, Osato District, Saitama 369-1221
Season:All year round, maybe closed if there is a typhoon warning.
Hours:24 hours
Cost:There is an entrance fee –
By car: 500 yen for daytime, 1000 yen for camping
On foot: 100 yen for daytime, 200 yen for overnight
Online:Official web page on the Yorii town website . The new dedicated website.
A good blog account in Japanese, but that was written before charges etc came into play.
Kawasemigawara Arakawa BBQ

One of the many things I love about Japan is the honesty and trust in society. At Kawasemi often there is nobody manning the gate. In that situation is up to you to be honest and deposit the money in a shoot by the gate. There are envelopes at the gate. You write your name and reg number on the envelope, insert the money and deposit it in the money shoot.

Access

Kawasemi is close to the Hanazono Interchange of the Kanetsu Expressway which is very convenient for anyone who wants to come on a day trip or indeed overnight trip from Tokyo or Gunma. It is also close to the Minano Yorii bypass (route 140 toll section).

By public transport you can get a bus going toward the Saitama Museum of Rivers or walk 20 minutes from Hachigata Station. Hachigata station is on the private Tobu Tojo Line that goes from Ikebukuro and Kawagoe. However, make sure you get on a train that is going to Yorii. Many of them stop at either Kawagoe or Shinrinkoen. But in that case you can then transfer to one that is going on to Yorii and alight at Hachigata.

Other river BBQ spot in Saitama

2 Comments

    1. Heaps of fun… occasionally a couple of cuts and bruises too 😀

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