Review of the Ranzan Valley Barbecue Area on the Tsuki River
Ranzan Valley barbecue area is a popular riverside day camp destination in the scenic area of the rural Hiki District, Saitama. It is commutable from Tokyo and attracts day trippers from around the Kanto plain.
It is off the international tourist trail, but well known among domestic tourists. For eight years in a row it ranked number one for barbecue spots in the Kanto area on JTB Rurubu’s site. It even won the coveted number one position for the whole of Japan two years running.
However, in my humble opinion, it is not the best barbecue site in the area. It is convenient because it has more facilities, more shaded areas and is more scenic than a lot of the other riverside barbecue areas in the Hiki District. They also have a nice barbecue rental area, off the stone beach in a designated area, where you can stone grill under a shaded area.
However, the site is also twice the price of most other barbecue sites. It costs 1000 yen for parking for cars. If you come by foot or public transport it is free to use the riverside area. The rental costs are pretty standard though – 3000 yen for a brick grill, 1,500 for a stone grill. You can also rent smaller grills and barbecue equipment. Even sun brolleys, tables and chairs. And you can book a fully inclusive barbecue with food provided too.
The main advantage of this site for me is its location and proximity to seasonal attractions. For example, it is close to the cherry blossoms and horseback archery events that take place in Spring. And it is right beside Japan’s largest lavender fields, which bloom in June. It is also close to the butterfly park – Ranzan is home to the national butterfly of Japan.
In Autumn the Ranzan valley is absolutely breathtaking dressed in shades of gold, orange and red. It is known as the “Arashiyama of Musashi Country” due to its resemblance of Kyoto’s famous Arashiyama area.
The Ranzan Valley Barbecue area gives access to the hiking trails. Although there are other places you can park for free, at least with the barbecue site you have some facilities and you know your car is safe.
- Management office
- Information area
- Barbecue rental
- Fully inclusive barbecue available (with food provided)
- Barbecue rental area with shade and seating areas
- Sinks for washing dishes
- Shop selling river play goods as well as drinks and other necessities
- Rest area
- Vending machines
- Rubbish collection
With the 1000 yen you pay for car parking you get rubbish bags for sorting your trash and handing in on your way home.
Ranzan Valley BBQ area has more facilities than a lot of other riverside barbecue areas in the Hiki District, but the river isn’t very clean. The river beach is very stony too. And when we visited today the river bed was very slimy and also very smelly.
My four year old loves playing in water, but she wasn’t very enamored with Ranzan Valley. We both liked further upstream where there is no space for camping out, just the river and the scenery. We left the Ranzan car park after just an hour – most of which we spent walking in the area. But we both LOVED our next stop…
If you just want a barbecue near the river, rather than on it, I recommend Fukurou No Mori which is only minutes away. You can also access the picturesque part of the river, right by the stepping stones, from this site. My four year old loved it there. It is a glamping style, all inclusive barbecue – just bring yourself and the rest is taken care of. Or you can just use their outdoor cafe, which we did today.
For a riverside barbecue, the Kurakake barbecue area in Higashi-matsuyama is a much better spot in my humble opinion. Although it is pretty, it is not quite as scenic as Ranzan, but the river is much cleaner and the riverside is more suited to pitching tents and tarps. It really depends what you are looking for and time of year too.
Ranzan Valley Barbecue Area Information
Hours: open Saturday to Thursday from 9 am to 4 pm. Closed Fridays except for during the summer holiday, Golden Week and Autumn leaf periods.
Cost: 1000 yen for cars, 400 yen for bikes for one day. Please note that you can’t go out and come back on the same ticket. If you leave the car park once, you have to pay again to get back in.
Rental costs vary depending on what you are renting. You can see individual costs of equipment (with pictures) here. The barbecue brick grills and the fully inclusive barbecue (food provided) require booking in advance.
Address: 2857 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.