Jun 26, 2017
Down by the river
My favorite place near the water in this island country isn’t the ocean. Next month is July which is quickly approaching. The weather has been crazy cool but one thing we can always count on is the heat in July. It will be full on summer by then. It will be hot. Everyone will want to go to the beach. Japan even has a lovely holiday for it, Umi no Hi (Ocean day). But the ocean is big and deep and vast. It kinda terrifies me. Also the few beaches I have been to in Japan have been either extremely crowded and/or extremely polluted
(Ishikawa ken) (Enoshima)
and while it's cool to look and see what things you can scavenge from beach combing, there’s just somewhere better that I would prefer to cool off during the summer. You don’t even need to get into the water to chill out because the temperature of the air is often a few degrees lower than sea level. I'm talking about going up in the mountains. Lakes and streams can provide you with ample water play. Here in Gunma prefecture, climbing out of the heat can be just a car ride away. You go too far and you might even get snow during the early parts of summer. But that melting snow runoff is blissful when you’ve been sweating a bathtub full in the summer heat.
Up past the old town I lived in, if you follow the main road up into the valley of the mountains, there is a dam built on the Kiryu river. The reservoir it creates has an outstanding view when crossing the top of the dam.
I may be partial to this place because it is the spot where my husband and I had our first date, but it truly is a gorgeous spot. High above the water, you can look out across the reservoir and see the mountain skyline and enjoy the cool breeze coming through the mountain pass. If you follow the river further up into the mountains, it dwindles back down to a mountain stream.
There are multiple areas that can be accessed from the road, some quite hidden from view of passing cars. The water is crystal clear and always icy cold. Not every place has water deep enough to actually submerge, but walking around the damp rocks getting only your feet wet is nice and refreshing. We have seen plenty of groups of people set up barbeque pits on the gravel shorelines and camp all day along the water, enjoying food and drinks. However if you don’t happen to own a portable barbeque pit or didn’t happen to bring it with you, you can just build a small campfire right next to the water so it’s easy to fully extinguish after. But you are in the woods, so be sure to keep the fire contained and check that all of the cinders stay away from the tree line. Maybe bring along a watermelon and let it chill in the flowing water until ready to be eaten.
On weekends when everyone has time off, it’s a pretty popular destination, so don’t be surprised if guys with beer bellies show up to some of the more easily accessed areas. But, if you are willing to do some climbing, it’s fairly easy to find a secluded place to enjoy your weekend with you friends and loved ones.
When it’s time to leave, don’t forget to clean up after and bring your garbage home with you so others can enjoy themselves up in the mountains surrounded by japans beautiful nature.
American step mom with beautiful Brazilian babies. Raising them in Japan. I'm a crafter too