11 August, 2013

Chichibu Camping Trip

8-10 August 2013

From a casual glance at my blog recently, it looks like all we do is camping! Not true, but I have to give you a glimpse of our camping trip last week. In fact it is probably our second-last camping trip this year, and probably even for the next 12-18 months!

Our campsite. We inherited a 4-person tent from missionaries
who no longer wanted it, and lent it to our friends (with
their fifth member sleeping in our tent).
This is the first trip we've done with friends in Japan. The first camping trip we ever did as a family was with some friends in Australia at Easter 2010, pretty much piggy-backing on them and their gear. At that time we were pondering the possibility of camping in Japan and that was like a taster trip. The trip we did this time was similar for our friends here. They've not camped as a family for many years and wondered about doing so in Japan.

It was fun to introduce them to camping in Japan. It added a different level of enjoyment to the trip: the kids had other kids to play with and we could sit around and talk with other adults. And it turned out very well.

The girls were really into insect and other creature
collection. The favourite had to be this stick insect,
that put up with being pulled in and out of the container.
They also found a number of small frogs, grasshoppers,
and flies. No one caught the hornets. All creatures were
released back into the wild before we left.
We went to a campsite we'd never been to before, it turned out to be 735m up a mountain. The access road snaked almost straight up the side of the densely tree-ed mountain. I drove the snaky road because I get car sick as a passenger on such roads, otherwise I'd have taken some "road photos" to give you an idea on how vertical this location was. The mountain was covered with tall trees, so we had almost no views, but a sense that this was going to be an awesome location.

Our little campsite. There were few other campers, so
we enjoyed a great deal of privacy.
It turned out to be a very leafy location, and we're very thankful for the abundance of shade because the days were hot. We're also very thankful for the lack of rain. The ground was bare dirt and damp from some rain a few days before; if it had rained while we were there, I feared that we would slide off the mountain. It certainly would have turned into a very messy camp.

Walking through the bush.
We went for two nights, the first afternoon was spent driving there, setting up, and cooking dinner. The day in the middle the kids mainly made their own fun: exploring the surrounding forrest, riding on the long roller slide (their conclusion was it was pretty slow), having water gun fights, etc.

Late morning, three of the adults and the three younger children walked up to the top of the campsite (literally the highest point) to the lookout. I think it may have been built when the trees were a little shorter, but even so, it was pretty hazy so we didn't get much of a view. It was hot, though. It gave us cause to be very thankful for the good tree-cover we had back at camp.

The other three boys went on their own exploration of the mountain at that time. It was great they took that initiative and for us to realise that they are old enough to do that!

The adults spent the whole afternoon sitting under the trees reading and chatting while the kids roamed about.

The best view we could manage from the lookout.
In the evening we cooked a Japanese dish: fried noodles (yakisoba) and finished up with a grand dessert including marshmallows, bananas with chocolate and marshmallows in foil, and damper. Scrumptious!

After dinner clean-up we had sparklers and the boys raced around with torches/flashlights and probably still shooting water guns (I can't remember).

Then we went for showers and here I get to solve the bathroom dilemma for you. This character 「女」means female &「男」means male.
This says "Female Showers"

Mushrooms were abundant on the mountain.
The last day we took our time getting up and eating pancakes for breakfast. Then we spent rest of the morning packing up. With our friends being novice campers, it took a while longer than usual, but we managed it by 11am.

After checking-out we drove down to the bottom of the mountain where we joined the locals in some stream-paddling. It is a common pastime here away from the sea. This land seems riddled with shallow, rocky streams and families love to hang out there on hot days. It was brilliant!

Cooking damper over the fire.

The adults sat in the shade of a tree and chatted some more while the kids enjoyed the stream. Unfortunately I didn't take my camera out of the car, so I have no photos to show you. We took our sandwiches, bananas and water bottles down and had a lovely, simple lunch. Later David brought the remaining half of the watermelon down and we ate that for an early afternoon tea. Yum!

And that, my friends, was the end of our trip, aside from the couple of hours drive back to Tokyo.

No comments: