This month’s inaka article is a little different. Rather than featuring a hometown of a Hiroshima JET, Fuchu JET Ryan Surdick went exploring and tells us about what he found…
Words and photos by Ryan Surdick
How to get there: It is best to drive. Mitsugi Greenland is 23 kilometers from the city of Fuchu, north of the Sanyo expressway on route 406.
This past weekend, my wife and I were looking for an interesting place to take our son. We needed some place not too far, but where we would be able to enjoy the scenery. After looking around the internet, we came across “Greenland” in the mountains near Mitsugi. It’s a beautiful place with nice scenery, walking trails, bicycles like you’ve never seen before, interesting cabins and much more!
Mitsugi Greenland (www.mitsugi-greenland.com) is located about 23 kilometers from the city of Fuchu, north of the Sanyo expressway on route 406. The entrance fee is on a per person basis and ranges from 80 yen (for kids over 3) to 320 yen for guests high school age or older. On the way, you get the added bonus of crossing the Mitsugi dam, which affords a lovely view of the valley and river below.
There are two parking areas in the park. Note, we were asked to park in the second parking area by the tennis courts only if the primary parking area was full (which it was), so if your Japanese is not up to par, this might be something handy to remember!
Mitsugi Greenland is called Greenland for a reason. The whole park is in the mountains, surrounded by natural trees and shrubbery, making for a very relaxing time out. There is a small river that runs along the main road throughout the park, which also has spots where you can get in and cool off on the hot summer days. The river is shallow and safe for kids to enter. You can even try your hand at catching small fish and freshwater crabs!
As you enter the park, one of the first things you will come across is Donguri Station (Acorn Station). This small station is one of the two stops for a small train that runs to Tsukushi Station and back. This is a real treat for any youngsters in the group. It’s fairly expensive at 420 yen per adult for a 10 minute ride, but kids throughout the park come to watch the train go by, so you can rest assured that any young children with you will get a real kick out of riding it. Although the schedule shows the train as departing only once an hour, it seemed to be running much more often than that, so it’s worth looking for yourself. Buy tickets at the station from the automated dispenser.
Should you decide to skip the train, you will come across a large play area filled with slides and monkey bars. Of course everyone loves a playground, but the real treat is just a little further down the road at the “Bicycle Park”. It sounds pretty self-explanatory, but these are no ordinary bikes. These “vehicles” come in all shapes and sizes and none of them are your run of the mill bicycle. One bike is two unicycles welded together on a frame and requires two people to operate. You have to work together to turn or move the bike and it can be great fun! Another is a trike which is steered through leaning rather than any sort of handlebars. This one takes quite a bit of getting used to, but it’s a fun challenge! There are five or six different “bikes” to choose from, about half of which are large enough for adults to ride around the small winding track.
Coming from a place known for its outdoor activities, I was happy to find that you can also camp at Greenland. The on-site shop rents just about anything you could need, including tents, tarps, blankets, futons, barbecues, fry pans and much more – though it can become expensive rather quickly, so it’s best to bring your own where possible. To give an idea of pricing, tents are 2100 yen per night and tarps go for 1050 yen. While I prefer getting a bit further out in the wilderness and creating my own campsite, the campsites did look clean and accessible. For those who would rather it, there are also cabins for rent at a rate of 6300 yen per night. They can sleep up to five people and have a very interesting design (take a look at the picture). For even larger groups there are also bungalows available which run from 13000 to 17000 yen per night, which is reasonable if you take a party of 8 people (the maximum) to split the cost with. I didn’t see the inside of any of these, but judging from the pictures I saw, they look more than acceptable. One campsite suggestion was to have a winter “nabe” party in one of the cabins – sounds like a great time to me! All the cabins are equipped with running water and even electricity for an additional fee.
Mitsugi Greenland is a great place to visit and I highly recommend everyone to go and check it out. For those who like playing outdoors, it offers a variety of activities and staying overnight with friends is bound to be a wonderful time. Just be sure to call and ask about making reservations if you are planning on staying overnight! Mitsugi Greenland’s reservation office can be reached at 0848-78-0153. Enjoy yourselves!