Everything is Up Hill
Posted by Heliocentrism on November 14, 2014
Saturday, July 5, 2014
Of Mice and Men
The plan for this weekend was to have a fantastic Fourth of July camping event with people we’ve never met before. We were going to set up our tent on a beach several towns over and enjoy our Americaness. We would met campers and outdoor people. It would have been great. But it rained.
Or at least everyone thought it would have. The rain started on Thursday and the weather forecast for the rest of the week was bleak. On Friday the sky threaten to rain, but it never did. Okay, there was a good solid half hour of light drizzle, but it was not the stuff to stop a BBQ.
The camping plans were cancelled, but Mark and I decided to do something anyway. We looked online for things to do in our new prefecture. Every site told us to go to Hiroshima city.
We’ve already been to Hiroshima city. But, as far as the internet was concerned, the attractions there outshine everything else in the prefecture. Then I found Tripadvisor.com. It recommended going to something called the “Government Operated Bihoku Kyuryu Park”. I looked for information about it online and only found where it was. There was no other information. So we hopped in the car, punched in the coordinates, and drove there.
The Garmin could not see the park. It would give us directions past the park, then tell us to turn around. To the Garmin, the park was just a roadless void and it didn’t know what to do. We stopped for directions at a 7/Eleven and a lady put us on the right path.
Then I saw a sign for the park. It called the park “Bihoku Hillside Park”. It was a far sexier name for a park than “Government Operated Bihoku Kyuryu Park”! That would also explain why I could not find any information online.
Yen Yen Yen
After paying the many entrance fees we drove for a while before we got to Parking Lot 1, the only lot opened at the time. This was a huge park and we were hoping it would be worth every yen we paid.
We walked into the main area and were taken aback by the vastness of the park and the almost complete lack of people. Two things that Japan is not known for are big areas and low population density. We looked around for things to do. Everything cost money.
We brought our own lunch so there was at least one thing we could do for free. The park had many picnic areas. We found a nice gazebo up a small hill and next to a waterfall. It was private and quiet. I loved it.
My legs fell all floppy
After lunch we went back down to the main area. There were 4 options for transportation around the park. One could walk, take the “train”, rent a bike, or use the free Carry-All. Walking is for chumps and the “train” is for suckers. We rented some bikes.
Shortly after getting on the bikes we realized that everything in this park is uphill from bike rental. I peddled in third gear, then second gear, then first gear. Then I got off the bike and walked. I had to lean on the bike to stay upright.
When we reached something of interest we would get off the bikes (or just put down the bikes). There was gardens, groves, obstacles courses, bug houses, lakes, rest houses, cafes, and many more things. Many of the stuff were for kids, but there were still lots of things for nature lovers.
July: The Month of Bugs
Returning the bikes was the fun part. Once we reached the end of the park, it was a quick downhill ride back to the bike course starting point. After we put the bikes back we found a calendar which had the events that can be experienced each month.
“OOoooo May has a beautiful tulip gardens!”
“Look at the sunflowers in August!”
“We can make mochi in January.”
“There’s a light show in December! We must come back!”
“What’s July’s speciality?”
A lady in uniform past by us and heard the question. “Mushi desu!” she said with a smile.
…and no, it did not rain at all on Saturday.
How to get there:
You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly. Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.
- Emergency Numbers:
- Police 110
- Ambulance and Fire 119
- Important phone numbers to know while in Japan
- Comfort Woman
- The Commoner
- Empire of the Sun
- Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
- Geisha, a Life
- Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission
- The Last Concubine
- Memoirs of a Geisha
- Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath
- Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
- Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan. Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
- InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank toaskwhatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
- ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
- The Post Office bank seems to work with most cards.
- You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan. I’ve never been a tourist.)
Bihoku Hillside Park
(Government Operated Bihoku Kyuryu Park)
- Coordinates 34°50’23.6″N 132°59’48.5″E
- Park: 0824-72-7000
- Auto camping: 0824-72-8800
- Bring ID to prove age
- Children under 5 enter for free
- Scooters ￥100
- Regular cars ￥310
- Large cars ￥1,030
- Free with Year Passport for scooters and regular cars.
- They have bikes of various sizes, but the electric bikes only come in 26 inch.
- You can bring your own bike instead of renting one of theirs, but you must keep to the bike path.
- Admission stops 1 hour before closing.
- Closed on Mondays (If Monday is a holiday it will be open, but closed on Tuesday).
- Closed Dec 31 – Jan 1
- I think this park takes up half the area of the city of Shobara.
- There are many classes that kids can sign up for, from making soba noodles to pottery and woodworking.
- The cost for classes range from ￥100~500.
- There are many restaurants and cafes in the park, but you can also bring your own food. You can also bring your grill and have a BBQ in one of the BBQ areas.
- There is a camping area for day camping and overnight camping.
- You must make reservations to use the campsite area.
- There is a coin operated shower.
- They have a coin laundromat in the auto camping area.