Nature, hiking, flowers, Cats, horses, playground, “Health Road”, an honesty shop, seasonal events and a picking farm with a quaint cafe and antique store. All atop a hill in Yatsu no Sato, Namegawa Town.
In September 2019 when visiting Hilltop farm and cafe I walked across the road to investigate an atypical building that caught my eye. In the process I discovered strawberry picking fields, a honesty shop, a playground and some beautiful spider lilies. Since then I have hiked in the area several times and unearthed even more attractions within this community farming area in Namegawa, not too far from Shinrin Park. However, the nicest surprise was on my most recent visit, today…
Yatsu no Sato
Today, February 24th, my kids were off school and kindy. I brought them to Yatsu no Sato to do one of the shorter walking / hiking courses. I had seen on a map that there are two kawazuzakura on the West side of the large agricultural area. However, I didn’t think that walking course would interest the kids as much. So I brought them North East, to incorporate the “Health Road”. Much to delight about half down the “Health Road”, there were some beautiful early blooming cherry blossom trees. There are several seasonal blooms and nature abounds at Yatsu no Sato.
Nature / Seasonal Blooms
The whole area is mainly agricultural land and unspoiled nature. I can’t find the overall size online, just the size of the individual agricultural plots of land they rent out. But they are only one section of the area. It is at least 10 acres. The area is centered around several marshes. With wooded land, bamboo forest and several seasonal blooms.
In January the local community normally grow daffodils. But they didn’t seem to grow them this year on account of the Coronavirus. However, this month – February – there are some early blooming cherry blossoms. There are also seasonal mountain lilies and in September the red spider lilies grow.
Fruit and Vegetables
Not only are there flowers seasonally, there are also seasonal fruit and vegetables. There are two different blueberry farms, strawberry greenhouses, a vineyard and a chestnut farm. However, please note that the last two (grapes and chestnuts) may not be in operation at the moment. The strawberry picking farm is currently operating. And the Hilltop Farm blueberry picking fields are expected to open for business again this June. There is currently no information available for the other blueberry farm “Blueberry Sato”.
Allotments near Tokyo
The main function of the land is to give people the opportunity for agricultural experiences. As such, much of the land is rented out. If you are looking for a community garden or an allotment as we call them at home (Ireland), that is commutable from Tokyo, this maybe an option for some. They have different sizes, but to give you an idea of prices; a 50 m² plot costs 12,000 yen for a year. That price includes farming equipment.
There are several cats at Hilltop Farm. On the East end of the “park” there is a stud farm. You can often see the horses roaming on the slopes or in a plot of land opposite the strawberry picking greenhouses. The horses are part of the “Hiki No Oka Kids Garden” stable. You can actually book to experience life at a stable. You can also book to horse ride. There is a goat at the stables too!
I mentioned Hilltop farm a couple of times above. It is the name of one of the blueberry picking farms and of the cafe and antique shop at Yatsu no Sato.
The management building has a communal area and showers that can be used by people renting the allotments. It is also where you pick up rented farming tools and machinery from. There are also facilities for visitors to the area such as toilets and vending machines. The building also has an unmanned shop which sells fruit and vegetables grown on the allotments. It works on the honor system – pop the money in the box. There are benches and tables outside. There are also benches in several locations at Yatsu no Sato.
I mentioned in the opening paragraph that an atypical building is what piqued my interest in the area around the Hilltop Farm / Cafe. I never found what it is or rather used to be. It is currently sealed off and not in use. But it still makes a nice photo! One of the most popular annual events “Nagashi Somen” at Yatsu no Sato is held in front of this building. Nagashi somen is when somen noodles are sent down a bamboo chute in water and you catch them with your chopsticks. Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus the Nagashi Somen and all events have been temporarily suspended.
Shrines and Temples
There are at least two shrines and one temple in the area. Near the management facility Awasu shrine and Tokosanantai Temple are right beside each other. On the East end, past the stable and down a steep hill framed with forest is the eerie Asama shrine. I made the mistake of visiting it during the summer, but didn’t get past the torii with all the wildlife. Bees, frogs, snakes and several other creepy crawlies thrive in the long grass around the shrine in summer.
Playground / Health Road
The main playground is in front of the management facility. Its quite small. There is also another small playground beside Awasu shrine. The Health Road starts behind, just North, of the management facility. It is a 400 meter line of athletic challenges. The daffodils, red spider lilies and mountain lilies grow in this area. The “road” leads down to one of the marshes. This is where there is about 10 early blooming cherry blossoms, currently coming into bloom.
|Address:||2132-2 Fukuda, Namegawa, Hiki District, Saitama 355-0803|
|Hours:||Phone reception from 10 to 5 pm weekdays.|
Different services have different hours.
|Cost:||Free to walk, hike, flower view or play. Fruit and vegetable picking have varied costs.|
Yatsu no Sato Strawberry picking official website
Hilltop Blueberry farm, antique shop and cafe
Yatsu no Sato is about a 15 minute drive from the Higashimatsuyama Interchange and about 14 minutes from Ranzan Ogawa Interchange of the Kanetsu expressway. The main car park is the one that is just past the Hilltop blueberry farm and cafe.
There is no public transport nearby. However, from Shinrin koen station on the Tobu Tojo line you can get a bus bound for Shinrin Park. Alight at either Kannonmae bus stop on route 173 or Shinrin Park’s Nishiguchi bus stop. It is about a 20 minute walk to Yatsu no Sato from both of these bus stops.