Category Archives: NORTH OF BASE

Legoland Japan Resort

My family of 4 recently visited Legoland Japan Resort in Nagoya.  It was about a 4 hour drive from base and approximately Y4000 in tolls each way.  We visited to celebrate my son’s 6th birthday and it was perfect for his age.  Our 9 year old son also enjoyed the trip.  We booked a single overnight package to include a themed room, 2 day entry into Legoland park, 1 dinner, 1 breakfast, and one single entry into SeaLife Nagoya which is also on site.  The cost was Y72,600 for everything.  Legoland Japan opened in April 2017 and SeaLife Nagoya opened in April 2018 so everything is new and as clean as you would expect from any Japan park.  Legoland has 7 different themed lands to include Factory, Bricktopia, Adventure, Knight’s Kingdom, Pirate Shores, Miniland, and Lego City.  The adults’ favorite was Miniland with Lego displays of iconic places in Japan such as Mt. Fuji, Shibuya Crossing, and Tokyo Station.  The boys favorite was probably Knight’s Kingdom because that is where the largest roller coaster was located.  We all really enjoyed the Submarine Adventure ride as it took you underwater with real fish and sharks.  The majority of rides are designed for younger kids but my 9 year old had fun with most.  There are also multiple Lego building areas throughout the park to take a break from the rides.  The park food was decent and not too pricey.  They have their own popcorn buckets, and you can choose Salt or Caramel flavors.

After our first full day at the park we grabbed our bags and checked out our Ninjago themed room.  Other themes you could choose were Pirate, Kingdom, Adventure, and Lego Friends.  The room we chose had a queen bed and a bunk bed for the kids.  The TV on the kids side of the room played all Lego shows and movies, and one station was in English.  The hotel restaurant food was buffet style.  There was a play area for the kids next to the restaurant as well as a bar. Upon check in, we also signed up for the group birthday party held each night.  This was free, and our son received a Lego gift and photo opp with the LegoLand character.  It was all in Japanese, but he was able to play along.

We went Sunday-Monday and found that Sunday was much less busy with short wait times for the rides.  Monday was much busier, and we had double to triple the wait time for rides.  We took a break on Monday from waiting and visited the SeaLife Nagoya Aquarium.  It was small but the boys enjoyed seeing sharks and coloring fish on a computer screen that swam out on a big screen at the end.

I highly recommend a visit to this park if you or your kids love Legos.  It was definitely worth the travel time and cost! – Angela Vaillant, January 2019

Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat/Sun 10am-6pm (check their web-site calendar for closures and time changes for peak season/off season/holidays)

Parking:  There is one parking garage for the park and hotel.  Parking fee was not included in overnight stay.  We paid Y2500 for an overnight stay.

Web-sites:  Legoland Park  –, Legoland Hotel –

4 day family weekend in the Japanese Alps – Nagano, Matsumoto, Hirayu

We did this trip over Fourth of July weekend with two boys ages 4 and 6; I think it would work nearly year-round as a chance to see a nice circle of sites from Nagano, Matsumoto and up to the Japanese Alps as a 3 or 4 day weekend.  On Friday, we took off for the 3-hour drive to Nagano (approx $25 dollars in tolls or so) where we checked into the no-frills-but-well-located business hotel Chisun Grand Nagano (cheap parking). Nagano itself is not a city of sites but we enjoyed seeing the huge walls of sake barrels lit up at night outside of the Shinshu Nagoya Sakaba.  This izakaya was completely empty when we stopped by for dinner, but it was one of those places that was “sorry, fully reserved.” In the morning, we checked out and headed to see the pretty grounds of the Zenko-Ji temple and it’s pitch-black-slighty-scary underground passage to the “Key to Salvation” (it’s worth the extra 500 yen). After the Zenko, we drove about 30 minutes to the dinosaur statues and a nice walk through Chausuyamakyoryu Park (free or cheap parking and entry). From there it’s another hour drive to Matsumoto’s castle where we went inside and climbed up to the top for a great view.  After Matsumoto’s castle we drove another hour into the mountains up a crazy curvy road to our Japanese Inn at Hirayunomori (English available at  We loved this place!  Couples can opt for rooms in the inn but as a family we settled comfortably into one of the large two-story cabins in the forest just a few steps from the rest of the inn and it’s outstanding indoor/outdoor onsen.  The eight different pools on each side ranged from warm to hot and even our 4 year old was happy in a couple of them. This was our first Japanese Inn experience and our only mistake was wrapping our yukata like a dead person (should be left over right, I think).  Most of the time, we had the pools to ourselves . We did not try the restaurant, but we did bring a lot of our own food for cooking in our cabin – plus some beach chairs (American-style!) so we had somewhere to sit in our room.  The next morning, we walked down the street to the bus station to catch a short 25-minute bus to Kamikochi – the Alpine Japan hiking base accessible only by bus.  We did a short circular walk up and across the famous lookout at Kappa-bashi and back.  This would be another great overnight stay and as an afficinado of alpine lodges I had to check out the Kamikochi Imperial Hotel, but it was less impressive than I thought.  A short bus ride back and we were in our pools at Hirayunomori.  If we had more time we would have loved to go to the Shin-Hotaka Ropeway or (gasp) tried mixed bathing at Shin-Hotaka-no-yu. This was our first trip up into the mountains and I highly recommend this weekend trip.  During Fourth of July it was perfect: we were bathing in 50s and 60s degree weather but reading about Yokota really heating up – so we enjoyed the mountain cool. There is also a ski hill right around the corner from Hirayunomori!  Happy travels!   Zeke Lyons – December 2017

Shinshu Nagaya Sakaba

Zenko-Ji Temple

Dinosaur Park

Matsumoto’s Castle

Hirayunomori Cabin

Yukata’s at the Inn


Naruko Onsen

If you love Kokeshi and Onsen, I highly recommend a trip off the beaten path to Naruko Onsen in Miyagi Prefecture. It may take some time and trip planning to get there but this cute little town in Northern Japan is a must see for Kokeshi lovers. We stayed at the Naruko Hotel. They did speak a little English – enough to help when needed. We enjoyed the hotel very much! Very nice and helpful. They provide yukata to wear around the hotel in a cute Kokeshi pattern. They serve breakfast and dinner buffets which were very good! The buffets were filled with Japanese delicacies as well as enough recognizable food for tourists. They have a private onsen you can reserve for 50 minutes for a fee (approximately 2000-5000 yen depending on number of people). Highly recommend reserving before your trip to get a good time if you are interested in private onsen (the Yujo can help with your call!). The hotel also has their own vast Kokeshi collection on display and a cute gift shop. We reserved our room on for a reasonable price. They do have a cancellation policy so please keep that in mind when reserving.

While in Naruko, check out the Japanese Kokeshi Museum and Naruko Gorge. The Gorge may take some planning to get transportation out to the site. The Japanese Kokeshi Museum is filled with Kokeshi from various Tohoku areas highlighting the different dolls and artists from each area. You can even paint your own Kokeshi! There is a small fee to tour the museum but it is under 500 yen. Painting the doll costs around 1000 yen. The town has many shops filled with Tohoku kokeshi! This trip could be a part of a Tohoku road/shinkansen trip or a fun girls’ trip weekend.

Also recommend following Naruko_Hotel and tohokukokeshi on Instagram for more information and tips.  – Jennifer McCarthy, October 2017

Town: Narukoonsen
Osaki, Miyagi Prefecture 989-6100, Japan

Naruko Hotel
Yumoto-36 Narukoonsen, Ōsaki-shi, Miyagi-ken 989-6823, Japan
+81 229-83-2001

Japanese Kokeshi Museum:
Shitomae-74-2 Narukoonsen, Ōsaki-shi, Miyagi-ken 989-6827, Japan
+81 229-83-3600

Naruko Kyo
Narukoonsen, Osaki, Miyagi Prefecture 989-6100, Japan

Station: Naruko-Onsen Station
Kawarayu Narukoonsen, Ōsaki-shi, Miyagi-ken 989-6100, Japan

Hanno Ganno Kiln


A short 30 minute drive north of Yokota is the Hanno Ganno Kiln in the town of Hanno.  They make traditional Japanese pottery. Don’t think typical blue and white…think green and white and turquoise and tan with patterns and textures.


There are two showrooms.  The main showroom is directly in front of you when you park in their small parking lot.  It has two rooms with decorative and everyday use pieces. The pieces are food safe but in most cases not dishwasher safe (bases or undersides of pieces aren’t completely sealed with glaze).  Prices range from 300-3000 yen per piece, depending in size and intricacy.


The second showroom is slightly to the right and down the hill from the main showroom building. Here the potter displays his expensive and exhibition pieces. Many pieces are for sale in this room, but prices usually start at 7500 yen and go up quickly from there.

On my last visit, there were some pieces for sale under 3000 yen in this room though.  Even if you don’t want to spend that much, it is worth looking in the second showroom since the exhibit pieces there are beautiful. Be sure to take off your shoes before you go in this showroom; slippers are provided if you want them. Sometimes the potter is there too, so if he is, the ladies who work at the kiln will be happy to introduce you. Everyone’s English is limited, but we’ve always been able to have good simple conversation. Also, be sure to enjoy the view off the deck on the back of the first showroom building.  This is one of my favorite things about this location.  You would never guess that you are only 30 minutes from the hustle and bustle of Fussa!

Small parking lot is available, so carpooling is recommended. If your items are a gift, they will gift wrap them for you at no charge. Cash only.  Katie Campbell June 2016


Phone: 042-973-9099
Hours: Sun-Thu 9:00am-5:00pm
GPS to parking area: 35.844044,139.279154

Aneby Trimpark

The rainy season is almost upon us, and right after that we will be faced with the depths of a humid summer. This to me signals one major thing – ideas for ways to keep children occupied indoors!3568e394-1d60-43e3-a07c-b367b3d816e7
A new play center has opened on the third floor of The Mall on 16. It is part of a chain of indoor play centers – similar to Bornelund at Aeon Mall. The name of the chain is Aneby Trimpark.2f9b12d4-60a0-4397-95b0-94e9f19a0656
The play center has a lot of wide open space for your little ones to run around, as well as engaging activities like a trampoline, indoor slide and playground, climbing wall, musical activities, a water lab, building lab, kitchen area – it’s really quite comprehensive! It was a nice change of scenery for us – and sometimes that’s what the kids need! Kim Bosack- May 20169833a1a0-877f-4078-bac7-f6a604bb5d88

PRICE: It’s 800 yen for an hour of play for kids, with a 600 yen charge for adults – and a 200 yen extension for each 15 minutes after that, or you can get an all day pass for 1600 yen for a child with the 600 yen adult charge.
HOURS: 10:00 am to 7:00 pm
DIRECTIONS: To get there, take a right out the terminal gate and simply follow the signs for Route 16. About 6.5km down the road you’ll see “The Mall” on your left. Parking is free, and then just head up to the third floor!
WEBSITE: (It is in Japanese though, but gives you a bit of an idea of the setup of the facility.)

Don Quijote

photo 1Looking for a unique gift? Or something you can’t find anywhere else? You may find it at a Don Quijote. They have all kinds of goods; cell phone accessories, beauty products, clothing, liquor, car accessories, electronics, etc. They also offer inexpensive seasonal goods, such as Christmas decorations during the winter, and water toys during the summer. The closest location is right across from base on Route 16. Parking is free. The hours are from 9:00 am-5:00 am, and the phone number is 042-539-7611.  For more information, check out their website at: Just take a right out of the terminal gate and you will see it on the left.  Michelle Nexon, July 2014.

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Moomin Park in Saitama

Park-3637Moomin Park is a fun and unique park just 20 minutes from Yokota’s terminal gate! We spent an afternoon at the park in late March and had a wonderful hanami under the sakura trees. The park’s structures were created as replicas of a popular Finnish childrens book & TV series called the “Moomin’s”. The Moomin’s look akin to hippopotamuses and have adventures in Moominvalley. Although I had never heard of the series before we went to the park, I will definitely be checking it out.

Park-3647There were several climbing structures, a large library (all books were in Japanese), a small bridge and babbling brook (perfect for wading) and best of all; a huge adobe three-story treehouse with plenty of places to hide and play. My children spent most of their time in the treehouse exploring the nooks and windows. There were surprises at every turn; perfect for little ones and big kids too. There is plenty of space to run around or have a picnic and bathrooms are located close by, next to a little store that sells Moomin merchandise. Entrance to the park is free, as is parking.

IMG_4491On our way out, we noticed a large playground just across the street from Moomin. We were pleasantly surprised to find several play areas, including a huge climbing structure that looked like a spiders web. The ground was covered in sand, making it a perfect place to bring sand toys. My son joined a sandcastle-making party and had a ball. This playground also had a large Moominparking lot (in case Moomin’s is full), restrooms and nice shady areas.  GPS: 35.830762, 139.344619.  Phone: 042-972-7711.  Address: 893-1 Azu, Hanno, Saitama Prefecture 357-0046, Japan.  Webpage:   Hours: 9:00AM – 5:00PM (closed on Mondays and Public Holidays). Emily Gyimah, June 2014. Photos by Emily Gyimah & Sarah Straus 2014.

Railway Museum in Saitama

saitama railroad sarah strausIf your kids are like mine and are obsessed with the trains in Japan, then you’ve got to check out the Railway Museum in the Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo. We had been to the Ome Railroad Museum several times and always enjoyed it, railway_museum1 kristabut thought it would be nice to see something different. This museum is much newer and nicer than the one in Ome (although I love the charm of the one in Ome) and takes longer to get to, but we thought it was totally worth it. When I was figuring out how to get there, I came across this blog that will definitely give you some great tips and information.  One of the best tips is that you can bring your own lunch into the museum. There is a McDonald’s at Omiya Station right before you get on to the “shuttle train” to go to Tetsudohakubutsukan Station, which is where the museum is located. They have a little train that is specifically for eating or you can sit on the 3rd floor and watch the Shinkansens come by. They have a couple of restaurants too inside that have your typical Japanese food. (tonkatsu, curry, etc).
DSC_0227At noon and 3pm, they have a special steam engine “whistle blowing” demonstration that is great. If your kids are sensitive to loud noises though, I recommend going up to the second floor to watch it from above as it can be quite loud and startling for the younger ones.  This is a great day trip and I highly recommend it!  Hours: 10am to 6pm.  Closed every Tuesday and Dec 29-Jan 1.  General admission for adults is ¥1000. Elementary – high school age it is ¥500 and children ages 3 and up ¥200. If you have a Suica train pass, you can use that to purchase your entry tickets at the electric ticket vending machines.  Phone number: 81 48-651-0088, GPS: 35.922238, 139.616874.  -Krista Whipple, June 2013
train musuem kristaDIRECTIONS: Take the train to Omiya Station.  From Omiya station take a shuttle to Tetsudo-Hakubutsukan Station.  From there it is a 1 minute walk to the train museum.  There is limited parking at Tetsudo-Hakubtsukan train station at GPS coordinates: 35.922238, 139.616874.  If you decide to drive, basically you’ll head North on Route 16 for 36 kilometers past Iruma and Kawagoe.  At Route 216 exit left and keep left until you turn around and head under Route 16, traveling on Route 216.  Click on “view larger map” below for more directions.

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Round 1 Iruma

Round One in Iruma is a great place for kids to be active on a rainy day.  Located near Costco, just off Route 16, it is an easy drive and offers a variety of indoor fun for all ages.  For younger kids there is a large, shoes-off play area with a two-story twisty slide, ball shooters, tricycle track, balloon area and it is flanked by free massage chairs.  In the same large space there is also a skating rink, ping pong, billiards, mini bowling, darts and video games.  While the entrance fee is a bit pricey, it is all inclusive – no extra tokens to buy for video games and roller skates are free.  The only extra money you may spend is on food.  There is a small restaurant with American style cuisine including pizza.  Open 10am M-F, 9am Sat, 8am Sundays and holidays.  Prices: I went with two pre-school aged kids on a holiday and paid a total of ¥3500 for 3 hours.  Prices are cheaper during the week.  There is a weekday family rate that comes to ¥600 per person (adults and kids alike) for 3 hours of play.  To get to the play area, enter the building, go up one escalator and then take the elevator to the 5th floor.  This is where you’ll check in and pay at the end.  GPS: 35.828026, 139.375817.
DIRECTIONS: Exit the passenger terminal gate and turn right onto Route 16.  Drive 10 km along Route 16, passing Costco.  About 1 km past Costco turn left onto Route 299.  Round 1 is located 1/2 kilometer down Route 299 on the right.  It is easy to spot from the road once you turn onto Route 299.  Once you pass Round 1 on your right you’ll need to turn around to head back to the parking lot entrance.  No u-turn at the light, but the Mini Stop parking lot can make a good place to turn around.   – Sarah Straus, Kelly O’Donnell,  January 2013.

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The Mall

“The Mall” is less that a 15-minute drive from the base. Similar to the Aeon Mall on a much smaller scale, this mall is great if you want to make make a quick shopping trip from the North or West sides of base.  There is a large food court on the first floor, with several dine-in specialty restaurants, including one with an extensive dessert menu.  There is also a rather large grocery store in the “Livin” part of the mall. The Mall is home to specialty stores, including ones with baby clothes, strollers, and massage chairs. There are various clothing stores, and a store that is kind of like Pier One Imports. There is a fairly large selection in the “liquor store” and in the fresh coffee beans store on the first floor, inside the grocery store.  Also on the first floor near Starbucks is a small, brightly lit nail salon.
DIRECTIONS: Turn right out the Terminal Gate, and follow signs for Route 16. The Mall will be on the left at approximately 6.5 km. There is a large green sign on top of the building that says “The Mall.” Parking is free and is either on the street level, or up above the mall via ramps on either side of the mall. Michelle Arostegui, 2002, updated Deborah Silverman, 2012.

Fresh House

Fresh House is a farmer’s market in the town of Mizuho, off the north end of the runway. This market sells seasonal vegetables and fruits. There are also cut flowers, some plants and bonsai trees for sale. Go very early for the best selection.
DIRECTIONS: Zero your odometer and turn right out the Terminal Gate onto Route 16, moving into the left lane toward central Mizuho by 0.9km. (Do not take the underpass.) This puts you on 166. Stay on 166 and go straight across Shin Ome Kaido at the intersection nearest the northern tip of the base. You’ll pass a train station, Hakonegasaki, on your left. Turn left onto Ome Kaido at 2.6km. The intersection has a blue “Ome Kaido” sign on the far left corner. Cross the train tracks and take the next right angled away, Iwakura Kaido. Look for Fresh House on the right. It is housed in three brown onion-shaped “mini barns.” Vertical banners on the road (3.2km) mark the parking area, just before the green house. Hours: 9-5 daily. (January through March open until 4pm). Telephone: 0425-57-4564 (in Japanese only). GPS: 35.7768, 139.3429.
Chieko Brumley, Julie Irwin, Teresa Negley, Keiko Hansen. Directions updated 2012. Note: Market was closed for several days around New Year’s.

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Joyful Honda

I find this place endlessly fascinating. It’s a giant home center with lots of parking, so it’s somewhat reminiscent of shopping in suburban America, yet it’s very Japanese. Joyful has a huge garden section, lumber and hardware, plants, a bike shop, homewares, kitchen gear, curtains, rugs, liquor and groceries. And that’s just the first floor. Upstairs is where the real fun begins. There’s a pet store with amazingly expensive dogs and cats for sale. I’ve seen kittens with price tags of $1,200 and more. Customers are welcome to bring their own pets, so you see lots of people pushing shopping carts around the mall with barking poodles and Akitas inside. Next to the pet section is a vast hobby department with a frame shop, amazing washi paper, sewing stuff, woodworking materials and tools, beads, an astonishing variety of pens and so much more. Also on the second floor is a food court. Our sponsors brought us here on our first day in Japan and it was perfect. Those who don’t want to try exotic food can head for the McDonald’s or KFC counter. My favorite place is the one right by the entrance that sells goldfish-shaped waffles and takoyaki, aka octopus balls. (Yes, smart alecks, I know that octopus don’t really have balls.) My husband always goes for the Korean place that sells bibimbap. (If you shop with your dog, you should know that you can’t bring Fido to the food court.)
What you won’t find for sale is Hondas, except maybe in the generator and farm tools section. I can’t explain the strange name, but I know it has nothing to do with the Honda car company. Hours: 9-7:30 (pet store 10-8). Tel.: 042-568-2311. GPS: 35.76260, 139.35840. Liz Ruskin, 2012
DIRECTIONS: You can get here easily from the East Gate or the Terminal Gate. From the Terminal Gate, turn right onto Route 16 and stay left (0.9km) to avoid going under the underpass. This puts you on 166, which follows the Yokota fence line to its northern-most tip. At the the light (2.1km) turn right onto Route 5, a major multi-lane road (not a sharp right onto the minor road that hugs the Yokota perimeter.) Stay on this road and you’ll see, on the right, a big billboard for Joyful Honda. Turn right at the Lawsons (3.3km). Make the very first left and look for the parking lot entrance. (3.4km). Parking is free.

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North of Base


Costco and Mitsui Outlet Park in Iruma Costco
The Costco outlet near here is so similar to the American versions that frequent shoppers will already know their way around the store on their first visit. If you’re a Costco member in the states you’ll be able to shop here but you have to transfer your membership to your Japanese address, so visit the membership counter inside the store on your first visit. (Do you know how to make a Japanese address from your APO box number? See the Japan Post section under General Information.) Costco, for those who haven’t had the pleasure yet, is a worldwide bulk sale store with membership costing ¥4,200 per couple per year. Two guests can accompany members. Depending on the item, prices may be less than on base. Costco does not validate parking tickets for the outlet mall lots, and only American Express credit cards are accepted;
The outlet mall right next door to Costco contains name brand stores such as Coach, Columbia, Naturalizer, Reebok, Levis, Adidas, Diesel, and Banana Republic, etc. Forest Kitchen is the second story food court, while Forest Lounge on the ground floor has a Harrods tea and coffee outlet with a green tea counter across the aisle.
Costco members may park free in the top of the Iruma Costco building but entrance to the rooftop parking is only via a left-turn entry from Route 16 if you’re coming from the Kawagoe direction, so it’s awkward when you’re coming from Yokota. Instead, drive through the Outlet Park, out the rear then left toward and onto Route 16 (back toward Yokota and Hachioji). If asked, tell the parking attendants “Costco,” and they will wave you toward the rear exit. Once back on Rt. 16 going in the opposite direction, you will be waved to the entrance on the left. Costco parking hours are 9:30am-9pm while the store hours are 10am-8pm.
DIRECTIONS: Turn right out the Terminal Gate onto Route 16, drive north toward Kawagoe. Continue past The Mall and Hotel The Rock on the left. On the right will be a turn lane and sign for the Mitsui Outlet Park at 8.6km (depending on traffic, between 15 and 45 minutes). There is parking all around the mall for the Outlet Park; the first three hours are free weekdays while the first two hours are free on weekends. A minimum purchase of ¥3,000- from one store or  the same amount of combined receipts from the food court is  required for an additional two hours of parking validation.  3169-2 Miyadera, Iruma City, Saitama 358-0014, Japan. Tel. 04-2935-2200. GPS: 35.81082,139.37808. Teresa Negley, Ann Bowersox, Judiann Carey

Kojitu Outdoors
There are several places close to base to obtain outdoor and camping equipment, including  Kojitu Outdoors store located on Ome Kaido Road, just north of base.
DIRECTIONS: Set your odometer to zero and turn right out of the Terminal Gate. Go under the underpass and turn right at the fourth light after the underpass onto Ome Kaido Road. (2.8 km. Mc Donalds on left.) Kojitu will be on the right in about 0.3 km. (3.1 km from base.) Hours? Phone? Brian Marriott, 2002

Saizeriya is a clean family style sort of Italian restaurant with picture menus. It offers pizzas (small ¥380+), pastas (¥450+), risottos (¥480+), large salads (¥380+), and desserts (¥290+). This chain marks its locations with a green sign.
DIRECTIONS: Shin-Ome Kaido Location: You can approach the Saizeriya on Shin-Ome Kaido from either the Terminal Gate or the East Gate. From the Terminal Gate, turn right (north) and go through the tunnel. Turn right at the 4th light after the tunnel (onto Ome-Kaido Road –truck stop on right, McDonalds on left.) Saizeriya will be on your left after the Dennys, before the McDonalds. From the East Gate, turn left out the gate. Bear left at the second light (“Y” intersection.) When the road ends, turn left. Turn right at the third light (just past the baby clothes store with bunny on sign.) Take this road to Shin-Ome Kaido Avenue (Musashimuraya mako Kita intersection, there is a McDonalds on the left side of the road.) and turn right. Saizeriya will be a short way down on the right, before you get to Dennys. Hours? Phone? Jena Flowers, Teresa Negley. Directions updated: Brian Marriott, 2002.

Curry House CoCo
While there are many CoCo Curry Houses in the area (including a small one at the Fussa station), the Mizuho branch out the East Gate may be the closest with parking. At any CoCo, you have several choices to make, starting from a basic curry dish for ¥400, including the spiciness of your curry (mild 1 is ¥20, spicier is more expensive), whether you prefer rice (naan is also available), whether you want meat (chicken cutlet ¥250), if you want a salad, etc. Most of the picture menus also have English too. Once you know what you want, push the bell to order.
DIRECTIONS: Turn left out the East Gate, veer left at the “Y” inteserction (1.1K). At the second light (1.8K Shiritsu Jusho Minami) next to the Baby Bunny Store (bunny sign), turn right. At the fourth light, you will see McDonalds (2.6K). Turn left onto ShinOme Kaido and past the first light (3.2K), a yellow Coco’s Curry House will be on your right next to Saizeriya Restaurant. Hours: 11am-midnight. Telephone: XX. Website: Teresa Negley, Debbie Diaz, 2006


Iruma City Museum
About fifteen minutes away, there is a wonderfully modern museum in a landscaped setting. The museum is divided into several parts. In one gallery, art by local artists is displayed, including fifty-foot long painted murals to smaller oil paintings. Upstairs, a smaller Children’s Science Room is arranged with hands-on models including the effects of visual illusion through mirrors and a gyroscopic experience using bicycle wheels. Next door, a life-size exhibit of local plant and animal life reflects the natural setting of Iruma as it changes from dawn through twilight and night. The history of the area is shown through displays of local archaeological finds, feudal periods, the clothes of local townsmen, silk production models, etc. A ramp leads to exhibits on tea, a most important product of Iruma. Life-size models of family rooms in China and Tibet show the differences in lifestyles and how tea is preserved and used in different cultures. Glass display cases enclose teapots and English teacups ranging from those with large saucers to smaller porcelain items. A full-size replica demonstrates the simple designs of a traditional teahouse with thatched roof (the low doorways and narrow rooms inhibited the drawing of swords in a feudal society of five hundred years of war). Films on tea and other subjects can be viewed in a museum theater. Teacups and local merchandise can be purchased in the museum gift shop and a restaurant is also on the grounds.
Although English-language explanations are not present on all displays, an English brochure includes introductions on the permanent exhibits, building layout, and museum grounds. Cost: ¥200/Adults, ¥100/high school/university students, ¥50/junior high/elementary students.
DIRECTIONS: Turn right out the Terminal Gate and head north on Route16 via the underpass. Turn left (west) at the first light past route 219 (7.3 kilometers from the Terminal Gate and just prior to a large sign reading “AUTOBACS” on the left. If you get to Crystal Park [on right] you have gone too far). Take a LEFT (south) at the first light (There is a 7-eleven on the corner). The museum is about 0.4 kilometers on the left. It has a large parking lot just past an entry gate. The address for Iruma City Museum Alit is 100 Nihongi, Iruma. Hours: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, closed Monday (and closed on Tuesday if Monday was a holiday. Also closed 4th Tuesday of each month and 12/27-1/5 for New Years’ Celebration. Tel. 0429-34-7711. Teresa Negley, Sumiko Evans, 1997. Directions updated by Brian Marriott, 2002

Tokorozawa, a 45-minute drive north of Yokota, is a nice place to spend a day shopping and eating. In addition to the three very nice, large department stores (Daiei, Marui, and Waltz), there are also many small shops. There is a Wendy’s, a Shakey’s Pizza, and many Japanese eateries and bakeries. These are all within a short walking distance of each other. In Daiei you will also find a large variety of restaurants. On the top floor there are many restaurants and on the bottom floor you will find buffet restaurants. If you begin your shopping experiences at Daiei, you can walk across the street to McDonalds and take a left. You will be on a narrow street with no cars, and lots of shops. Here you will find Shakeys and one of two McDonalds. There are CD shops, flower shops, vegetable markets, video stores, electronics, pachinko and more. Then you will come out and go past the station and continue on up the main street to Waltz and many other small shops and accessory stores. Cross the street again and head back to Daiei. The name of the street is “Purope.” One of the best bakeries for fresh bread, called “Sun Merry,” is there. You can park at any of the three department stores as early as 9 am. Parking is free for two hours if you make a purchase of at least ¥2000. After the first two hours, you will be charged ¥100 per thirty minutes.
DIRECTIONS: Turn left out the East Gate. At the first light turn right. Stay on this road until it dead-ends, and then turn left. Continue on this road until you reach Shin Ome Kaido. (You will go through two traffic lights and pass the big Yamada discount store on the left.) At Shin Ome Kaido there will be a Mos Burger on the left and a used car dealer on the right. This is your landmark for the return trip. Turn right onto this road. Continue on this road for about 9km. After you go over a long overpass, get into the left lane. Turn left on Fuchu Kaido (the intersection is very large). Stay on Fuchu Kaido for about 2.5km. Keep to the right at the fork in the road, which has a gas station in the center of it. Turn left onto Tokorozawa Kaido. In a few minutes you will see the large department stores and the train station. Continue straight to park in the parking garages.
Lori Belk, Judy Harvey, Viki Paulson-Cody. Directions verified 2001


sarah straus kawagoeTake a glimpse of old Japan just a short journey from the base. Here you can see a street of Edo-era storehouses and merchant houses, the Kitain Temple, and a castle converted into a museum.  For a small entrance fee at the Temple you can Girl at Kitain Temple Kawagoe by Sarah Straussee some remains from Edo Castle that were moved here, a beautiful garden, and 540 statues of Rakan with no two Buddhas alike. Download a tourist map of the area here and walk to the castle and to the historic commercial street. We enjoyed seeing the many kimono clad Japanese ladies out for a stroll and the interesting buildings.

The history of “Little Edo”
Kawagoe was a castle town, protecting the northern flank of Edo Castle, which is now the Imperial Palace in downtown Tokyo. The Matsudaira family ruled Kawagoe for 100 years, boosting rice production to sell downriver in Edo. Much of Tokugawa-era Kawagoe (1700-1800s) remains for you to rediscover.

Gardens behind the remains of Edo Castle, by Katheryn Wolfe

Be sure to make at least one trip to Kawagoe timed so that you can browse the shrine sale held on the 28th of each month at Naritasan Temple. The shrine sale antiques reflect the old buildings of Little Edo, remainders of an older community that was not bombed during World War II. After shopping, visit Kitain Temple around the corner from the shrine sale. Kitain became the main temple of a three-temple complex that prospered due to a friendship in the 1600s beween the head monk and the first shogun. The Shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu, had the place rebuilt in 1638 and arranged for part of Edo Castle to be relocated in Kitain. One ornate room with a floral ceiling is thought to be the room where he was born. Diagonal to Kitain is the place of Gohyaku Rakan or Five Hundred Buddhas (with its entrance next to a small shop). Made from 1781 to 1825, each two- or three-feet tall Buddha is different.

After looking around Kitain, head toward the streets of old town where the kurazukuri buildings are located. The kurazukuri are icons of old Kawagoe. These combination store/residence buildings are fireproof, having been constructed from a wood frame packed with clay and plaster. The 30 or so remaining buildings were mostly built after the Great Fire of 1893.
The Osawa family owns Kawagoe’s oldest kurazukuri, built in 1793. This building is now an “Important Cultural Property” and shop specializing in folk art. It is located in Saiwai-cho, along with the city-run Kurazukuri Museum and other kurazukuri protected by the city. Two tourist information office in the old warehouse district can supply you with maps, but the town has lots of tourist-oriented maps posted and directional signs in English. Be sure to visit the quaint Penny Candy Lane.
Teresa Negley & Catherine L. Sadler.  Updates & lead photo by Sarah Straus, 2012.

DIRECTIONS: Drive or take the train from Higashi-Fussa station, per the directions below. The parking for the shrine sale (GPS: 35.9186,139.4902) is right by the Kitain Temple.


Kawagoe shrine sale by kelly cash 2Kawagoe Shrine Sale
Kawagoe is filled with treasures. We’ve found rice buckets, pottery, wooden items, brocade obi, shoji screens, baskets and lacquerware, among other booty. Held on the 28th of every month from dawn to dusk, rain or shrine, Kawagoe flea market is on a circuit of many flea market vendors.
DIRECTIONS: Set the odometer to zero as you turn right out the Terminal Gate. Go north via the underpass onto Route 16 where you will stay most of your trip. At 10.9km, the road splits with Route 16 to the left. The road also narrows to two lanes temporarily. Follow the blue signs for Kawagoe and stay on Route 16 as it bears left again. You will pass the SATY store on your right at 15.2km. Route 16 turns right around a bend at 23.4km with more blue signs to direct you . At 26.6km kawagoe shrine sale by kelly cash(with the round “Hotel 10” ahead), bear left onto Route 254 toward Higashi Matsuyama. Stay in the left lane, go under the arched pedestrian bridge at 27km, then make a left turn immediately afterward (not before the bridge). At the second light, 27.9km, make a left and then park in the lot on your right (¥500/three hours) before the Kitain Temple complex. (The parking lot entrance is slightly tricky. They’ve set it up so that you first come across the exit. Drive a bit further to find the entrance.) The monthly sale is held at Narita-san Shrine, a couple blocks to the right down the street on the other side of the parking lot. GPS for parking lot: 35.9186,139.4902. – Shrine Sale photos by Kelly Cash, July 2013

View Kawagoe in a larger map
DIRECTIONS HOME: Backtrack to Routes 254 and 16, turning into the first right two lanes, and head towards Hachioji (not up the ramp). Then, move over to the far left lane before Route 16 curves left. Barbara Kirkwood 2001. Liz Ruskin verified directions and parking lot info in 2011.
TRAIN DIRECTIONS:You can get to Kawagoe in less than an hour from the Higashi-Fussa station. This station is even closer to the base than the main Fussa station. You don’t even have to transfer if you chose the right train, so check Hyperdia before you go. Take the JR Hachiko line toward Kawagoe (not toward Hachioji). On trains bound for Kawagoe, the name of the line changes at Komagawa, but the same train continues on to Kawagoe station. When you get out of the train station you’ll be on an elevated plaza. Go just to the left of the Atre store and descend on the stairs that will put you behind the Atre and across the streets. You’ll be on a pedestrian street called Crea Mall. (Look for the “Crea Mall” banner over the walkway. There’s a red “New Crown” sign on the corner.) Stay on the Crea Mall for a kilometer, past where it becomes a real street. Continue on it until you reach a 4-way intersection with a big road, labeled 15 on maps. Beyond this road, the pavement color changes to grey as it goes into the historic district. Instead, turn right on 15 and walk until you see a blue pedestrian overpass. The entrance to the shrine sale is right there, on your right. Total distance from Kawagoe train station: 1.7km. Liz Ruskin, 2011.

Kawagoe RISM Outlet Mall
This is a collection of shops in a modern setting, southeast of Kawagoe and about 30km northeast of Yokota. On the second level there is an Eddie Bauer outlet and an outdoor/sports shop with goods by Patagonia, Columbia, and Coleman in addition to an Italian diner, and a carpet shop at the opposite end. There is also a shoe store with Cole Haan, Dr. Maartens and other famous brands; a large drugstore; a shop selling kitchen goods alongside lingerie; and several clothing shops. Kids will like the arcade of snack shops and game machines on the first level.
DIRECTIONS: Turn right out the Terminal Gate onto Route 16, heading for Kawagoe via the underpass. Route 16 will narrow from four lanes to two lanes and widen again. As you enter Kawagoe, the Route 16 signs will change to show Kasukabe and Omiya (at about 20km, stay on Route 16 in the right lane). You’ll pass a blue sign for The Old Spaghetti Factory on the right. Stay in the right lane as Route 16 takes a sharp right turn (at 23.4 km). As the road curves to the left, you’ll see 3 large blue signs (Kawagoe Station, Higashi-Matsuyama, and Tokyo). Stay in the right lane and turn right onto Route 254 for Tokyo, and later Ikebukuro. The road will cross Route 56 with a Royal Host on the right. Stay on Route 254, going straight. At about 30km, there will be an Esso station on the right and a Toyota auto dealer on the left. Turn left at the light where Jonathan’s Restaurant and Men’s Plaza Aoki are on the far left corner. You’ll pass a park on the right. Turn right at the second light (there’s a fire station on the left, and a Mos Burger opposite it on the far left – look for the “M” sign). Follow the “P” (for parking) signs around the mall to the left into an underground garage. Push the green button on the machine to get a parking ticket. The first two hours are free, then it’s ¥100/half hour. For the return, back track via Routes 254 and 16 toward Hachioji. Stay in the left lane as you approach Route 16. The drive is 1-1.5 hours, 32km away. Hours: 10:30am – 7:30pm; closed on the third Wednesday of the month. Telephone: 0492-69-3939. Address: Ureshino 2-10-87, Fujimino-shi, Saitama-Ken. GPS: 35.8580, 139.5253. Chieko Brumley, Wendy Matheny, Teresa Negley, 1996. Opening hours and GPS added 2011.