Kurakake Clear Stream Village: River BBQ and water play at Kurakake barbecue site in Higashimatsuyama, commutable from Tokyo on a day trip. Booking for the 2022 barbecue season at Kurakake starts on Tuesday March 1st. The season itself starts 11 days later on Saturday March 12th and will remain open until Friday September 30th 2022. However, please note, that this area was badly effected by the heavy rains in July 2022 and they have had to temporarily close a section of the riverbank.
In 2021, the facilities were closed for most of the season due to the pandemic. However, even during that period Saitama residents could actually still visit for a splash, fishing or a walk in the area. At this moment in time (February 27th) there are currently no restrictions listed for 2022. Except for the ‘new normal’ – you must wear a mask (apart from when eating), please refrain from shouting, getting too close to others or visiting if you have a fever.
In 2020, they actually restricted use to Higashimatsuyama residents only. And in both 2020 and 2021 you needed to book in advance by email for a coveted spot at Kurakake BBQ spot for the periods that the site was open for barbecue. There is currently no stipulation, but it is likely that advance booking will be necessary in 2022. We will know more when they open the booking forms on March 1st.
Kurakake Clear Stream Village
Kurakake barbecue site, also known as Kurakake Clear Stream Village or Kurakake Seiryu no Sato in Japanese, is a riverside barbecue spot in Higashimatsuyama. The area has been used for barbecues for decades, but the riverbed area was cleaned up with new facilities added in 2017.
Kurakake River BBQ Highlights
- Kid safe / Child friendly river
- Relatively clean water
- Only a weak current in two or three spots
- Stepping stones
- No moss on the stones
- Swimming rings, inflated boats, water guns etc allowed
- No restrictions on camp / barbecue goods on the riverbed
- Fish in the river and fishing allowed (catch and release please!)
- Picturesque / Instagrammable!
- Only 500 yen per car for a full day
- They provide you with rubbish bags on paying
- Rubbish can be left at a central collection point
- Toilets on both sides of the river
- Drinking water taps
- Sinks for cleaning dishes
- Small shop selling drinks, barbecue and river goods
- Reserved area with benches and barbecue sets for hire
- Dogs allowed
The site is on the Toki river. The river is definitely clean enough for children to play in and there is no rubbish in it. But the water is not drinkable and it wouldn’t win a prize for the cleanest river in Saitama!
What is great for families with young children is that the river is not particularly deep. And asides from a handful of locations further downstream, there aren’t really any currents in the river. There are stepping stones, which the kids love, near the bridge beside the car park.
Like with any river, sometimes there are some slippy spots, but by and large as there is no moss on the stones it is a relatively safe river to walk in. I would advise some sort of water shoe. If you forgot to bring some, you can buy them at a reasonable price (supply permitting) in the small shop on the south side of the river.
No restrictions barbecue site
There are no strict rules enforced at this site. And they allow all manner of water toys in the river. And similarly no restrictions on camping / barbecue goods on the riverbed. Occasionally we have been to sites that won’t allow you pitch a tent, but this site has no such restriction. Anything goes.
There are some fish in the river. Actually there is no official rule that you can’t bring home what you catch, but by and large children catch and release these days. They are just small fish and occasionally some crabs too. You can buy fishing nets in the small shop or bring your own.
The area is quite picturesque with lush green and / or countryside views. There aren’t any large buildings in sight and they have maintained the natural appearance of this country riverside spot. The bridge, which is as functional as it is quaint, is a narrow one car width old fashioned bridge without any sides. The handful of small buildings in the area, such as the toilets and shops, are hidden in the wooded area.
In April wisteria grows on the south side. Currently (May 2019) there are Japanese primrose in bloom also on the south side. In September there are some red spider lilies. And in Autumn you can see foliage change colours on the West side. Most of the trees are evergreens though, so during the season that the BBQ area is open you can enjoy fresh lush green scenery.
Reserving a river BBQ area
Along the riverbed is *normally* a free for all, first come first served. (In 2020, for a period of time they only allowed people living in Higashimatsuyama to use the “free” site). But if you prefer to book an area in advance, you can reserve a barbecue area in the woods. The woods are on the embankment above the river on the south side. If you book this area, you also get priority parking in either one of the car parks.
Booking a table in the reserved area costs 2000 yen. If you want a full barbecue set it costs 3,500 yen. You bring your own food, but they provide all the necessary equipment to barbecue it.
Other River BBQ areas in Saitama
- Kawasemi-gawara, Arakawa BBQ spot and campsite
- Ranzan Valley for a country BBQ area on Tsuki River
- Off the beaten path river play and BBQ spot in Ogose
- Kinomura Camp | TOKIGAWA
- Sanba Gorge accessible nature spot Tokigawa
- Comoriver Tokitama Himitsu Kichi| TOKIGAWA
Kurakake Barbecue Site Information
Kurakake BBQ site, aka Kurakake Clear Stream Village aka, Kurakake Seiryu no Sato, Toki River, Higashimatsuyama
Season: March 12th to March 25th on weekends only. Daily from March 26th to September 30th 2022. Booking opens on March 1st 2022. **The system and conditions have changed frequently over the last two years due to the Coronavirus. Moreover, the area sustained damage during the heavy rains in July 2022. Please do check the official website for any last minute changes**
Hours: 9 am to 5 pm for the car park, toilets and bins, seven days a week from March 26th. You can’t pitch a tent or tarp out of the hours either, but the river itself is not private and thus is open 24 hours. Also, although the car park’s official hours are from 9 am, in my experience it is always open at least ten minutes before that.
Cost: if you are just using the riverside it is only 500 yen per car. (See above about the priority / reservation area). They give you plastics bag when you pay on the way in and you can leave your rubbish in a designated area in the car park.
Address: 559 Gōdo, Higashimatsuyama, Saitama 355-0066
The Kurakake Barbecue site is just 40 minutes from Tokyo on the Kanetsu Expressway. You get off at the Higashimatsuyama Interchange and drive 4 kilometres (about 8 minutes) west on country roads. Please note that since the heavy rain in July 2022, only one of the car parking areas is open.
By public transport although the nearest station as the crow flies is Tsukinowa, there is no bus from that station to the barbecue site. It is about a 40 minute walk. But if you get off at Takasaka station you can get a bus to Kobe Shrine it is only a 15 minute walk from the shrine.