Category Archives: OUT THE EAST GATE

In this section we’re looking at a broad swath that lies to the east of the base, just outside the East Gate, and stretches north for about 10 kilometers. It encompasses the cities of Musashi-Murayam and Sayama. There’s no unifying theme here. Hidden gems, urban greenery, convenient shopping, kid stuff – it’s all here. Musashimurayama — 武蔵村山 — (often spelled without the hyphen in English) is the community closest to the East Gate. It includes the Aeon Mall, which people still call Diamond City, despite a name change a few years back.
Updated July 2013 and now includes locations on the east gate and right.

Out the East Gate & Left: Parks

Toshimaen this entry is very old. Please verify whether it is still up and running before heading out. Perhaps the info desk at the Yujo can help. Let us know what you find out.
Toshimaen Amusement Park and Water Park is the oldest amusement park in metropolitan Tokyo. Its 50 attractions are so varied there is truly something for everyone. Near the entrance to the park is a gilded, antique carousel, the Eldorado. Upon entering, the tranquil beauty of the Japanese gardens soon gives way to the many rides traditionally expected in an amusement park. There are many of the usual children’s rides, as well as roller coasters with names like “The Corkscrew” and “The Cyclone,” to satisfy serious thrill-seekers. Safaris and several haunted houses invite adventurers. A ride, rightly called “The Flying Pirates,” will swing some 15 stories into the air while you are seated in a replica of an old pirate ship. Seven swimming pools, an ice-skating rink, and a fishing pond are available for the sports minded.

The entrance fees are ¥1500/adult and ¥700/child. You can buy a ticket for ¥3300/adult and ¥2500/child, which combines admission and seven ride tickets. An all day pass, covering admission and all rides, is the best buy at ¥3800/adult and ¥3300/child. Hours: the park is open daily, 9am to 5pm. From mid- November to mid-March, the park is closed on Wednesdays. In the summer months of July and August, the park stays open until 9pm. Telephone: 03-3990-3131. Web: www.toshimaen.co.jp.
TRAIN DIRECTIONS: Take the Ome line to Tachikawa. At Tachikawa, switch to the Chuo Line to Shinjuku. Catch the Yamanote line (green train) going towards Shin-Okubo and Ikebukuro. Get off at Ikebukuro and proceed to the Seibu Ikebukuro Line. You will need to exit and then buy a new ticket. Now board the train bound for Toshimaen, it will be the fifth stop on this train. The park entrance is 100 feet from the station. The train cost is about ¥770 one-way, per person.
DRIVING DIRECTONS: The Yujo should have driving maps available.
Maria Witte, Diane Cressman. Location verified 2011.

Sato

Sato is modern Japanese restaurant with traditional aspects. It offers a variety of Japanese food to please everyone, from kids to sumo wrestlers. You can dine either in the booths (in the front of the restaurant) or in one of the many tatami mat rooms. For the latter, you exchange your shoes for slippers (placing your shoes in a provided locker, locked with a wooden key). The slippers are then worn everywhere except on the tatami mats themselves. Each room is equipped with one table which fits up to six comfortably, but the sliding doors can be opened to accommodate a larger party. The extensive menu is written in katakana, but the pictures make ordering easy. Samples include: three types of udon (Japanese noodles range from ¥380-580), sushi (¥480-880), sashimi (¥680), tempura set (¥680), tonkatsu (pork cutlet, ¥680), fried chicken (¥580), and mushroom hamburger (¥580). Side sets of rice, chawan mushi, miso soup, pickles (¥380), gyoza (6 pieces, ¥250) or edamame (soy beans, ¥180) are available to go along with entrees. Kid’s meals offer hamburgers, curry rice, or sushi (¥480). For those with a “yen” for what sumo wrestlers eat, the chanko nabe is a must. It is a high calorie, nutritious stew of pork, chicken, fish with carrots, bean curd, and onions simmered in a rich soy or sugar sauce (¥1680). Green tea is complimentary. Sake, whiskey, beer, and soda are ¥350-600, and separate desserts are ¥200-450. It’s a wonderful place for a couple or a squadron group.
DIRECTIONS: Turn left out of East Gate. Turn right at the first light. At the second light (T-intersection) turn left. Go past Diamond City Mall. The restaurant will be through 5 lights on the left at the Shin Ome Kaido intersection.

Hours: 11am – 12:30 am. Telephone: 0425-53-6060
Nina Carr,  2007

Kourakuen – Ramen for a Song

 We like this chain of ramen restaurants because they’re good, consistent, cheap and have a great kid’s meal. Did I mention cheap?
The picture menu makes ordering a snap. A huge steaming bowl of noodle goodness, with veggies and meat, comes to less than ¥500. The menu shows dishes under three categories, based on broth flavor:
みそ味 – Miso
塩味 – Salty
醤油味 – Soy
A meal set — noodles with gyoza (Chinese moon-shaped dumplings), fried rice or a small vegetable plate — costs a few coins more. You can also get a combo that is a plate of gyoza and a half portion of ramen.
Best of all is the kids menu. For ¥300 I can buy my son a lunch of ramen, fried rice, a drink and a candy. It even comes with a special coin he can put in the vending machine by the door to get a small toy.
At our closest branch, there was a small lunch rush at 11:45. Just add your name to the list at the podium. We wrote it in English, gave the number in our party and circled テーブル (“Taberu” for “table”.) The other choice is カウンタ (“Countah” or counter.) We were seated within five minutes.
Another nice thing about this chain is that they’re everywhere in Japan, so wherever you are you’ll be within reach of a good cheap restaurant that suits adults as well as kids.
DIRECTIONS to branch nearest the East Gate: Set your odometer to zero as you exit the East Gate and turn left. Turn right at the first light (0.2km) by the 7-11. Continue straight down this narrow road to the four-way intersection  at 1.3km. Turn left and drive to the next light. Kourakuen is immediately past the light, on the left. It’s a black building, across the road from the Aeon Mall, with a sign that has large black Kanji in the middle, sandwiched by lines of smaller red characters above and below. Hours: 11am-2am. Tel.: 042-520-7144. GPS: 35.74532, 139.38265. Christina De Los Santos, 2011

Obstacle Course Park – Noyama Kita

Sarah straus Noyama Kita 2013Children will swing like monkeys in this sprawling, well-equipped park. It’s less than three miles from the East Gate and has an ample, free parking lot. Enjoy hiking paths, several obstacle courses and intriguing climbing equipment ingeniously constructed of ropes and logs.  It’s all built on a hillside, and challenging enough to tempt children and adults alike. The park is well shaded, so it’s a nice place to go when it’s to hot to play elsewhere. From the parking lot Noyama Kita entranceyou can see a wood-framed entrance gate. Just inside are log steps ascending to your adventure. Or, from the parking lot, walk to the right a few feet and step between a construction yard and a dog training center. There’s another obstacle course here, and the nearest toilets are right at the entrance, behind the dog training area. Climb to the top of these Robinson Crusoe-esque playgrounds and you’ll find a trail (at times a dirt road) that meanders through the forest for a couple of miles, following a fence line. It’s a lovely place for a run or a walk with dogs. Go along it and you’ll see there are several more of these obstacle courses, running roughly parallel to each other on the hillside. At the end of the road is a fire lookout post, and other trails shoot off from here. Here’s a map to the greater park this is on the edge of, which stretches to Mizuho. See page 2. The trail is labeled “Lake Sayama Peripheral Road” and “Southern Hiking Trail.”
DIRECTIONS: Turn left out the East Gate. Turn right at the first light (0.3km).  Follow this road until it comes to a four-way intersection with a light 1.3km. Turn left. You will pass Aeon Mall (Diamond City) on your right. Keep going. You will go through about 10 stop lights.  The road will veer right at 2.2km, then cross Shin Ome Kaido at 2.4. Next the road will begin to climb a hill and curve.  Turn left at 3.7km, on a small road immediately before the road makes a sharp curve to the right (The turn is after the red warning stripes on the road begin, and just before the guard rail with arrows on it.) There is a large Onsen on the left.  About 300 meters down the small road past the Onsen, at 4km, will be a large paved parking lot on the left. GPS: 35.7635, 139.3861
Nina Carr January 2007. Liz Ruskin updated directions 2011, photos by Sarah Straus, 2012.

Reader comments about Noyama Kita
Emily Parks | March 29, 2012
We went to the obstacle course park today and had a wonderful time. It was really cool. Definitely a park for older kids though. Not much for toddlers.
Deborah Silverman | April 16, 2012   We love this park! My daughter is 8 and she can spend hours playing around the obstacle course and nearby playground without getting bored. We have been both during the week, when it tends to be much quieter, and on the weekend, when the whole area filled with japanese families enjoying the park. The long slide built into the hillside of the obstacle course area is a must-do, even the adults should give it a try! Warning: after a rainy day the area is VERY muddy.

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The Blueberry Restaurant

On 7 July 2012 the restaurant was closed. It was early in the morning, but a sign taped to the door made me wonder whether this was more than a routine closure. — Liz.

Only a 20-minute drive from Yokota’s East Gate is a quaint, Italian-style restaurant called The Blueberry, nestled in the bamboo forest surrounding Lake Tama. The woodsy setting is probably the best reason to go. The menu on our last visit, in 2011, was not in English nor did it have pictures, so it’s helpful to have someone who can read Katakana. We made do by asking the waitress “Pizza?” and she read the different kinds of pizza, which we recognized as “Margherita,” Neapolitan” and  “capricciosa.” Capricciosa mean capricious, and in this case it was an unexpected mix of salami, shrimp and mushrooms topped with an egg. The crust was thin and had a pleasing hand-formed appearance. The tomato sauce on the Margherita seemed to be straight-up tomato paste but it was the prettiest dish, with fresh basil on top. There was also a “pizza salad” on the menu that we wished we’d tried.
For pasta, we had “pepperocino,” which was garnished with red pepper and a dramatic tuft of saffron-like threads, and also a pasta meat sauce, which came with a soft-boiled egg on top.
Other categories on the menu: soup, salad and ice cream. There might have been a lot more, but we don’t read Japanese so we wouldn’t know. We did notice a salad bar. Upon entering The Blueberry, we noticed a well-stocked dessert case with European-style cakes. They are said to be as delicious as they look, but we were pretty full. The food portions seemed to be Western-sized at The Blueberry. The personal pizza on the lunch menu, larger than an average dinner plate, could feed two, especially if they ordered a salad also. The pizza cost about ¥900. Pasta was about ¥800. Lunch sets were in the ¥1400 to ¥2000 range. Hours: daily, except Monday, 11-2pm (lunch), 2-5pm (tea), 5-9pm (dinner). Tel. 04-2924-7180.
DIRECTIONS: Reset your trip meter to 0km as you exit the East Gate to the left. Turn right at the first light (0.2km) by the 7-11. Continue straight down this narrow road to the four-way intersection  at 1.3km. Turn left. Keep going, past Diamond City Mall on the right and past Yamada on the left. Continue across Shin Ome Kaido. (It is signposted Route 5, but so is old Ome Kaido, which you’ll also soon cross.) Stay on this road through 5 lights. The road winds and climbs a hill. You’ll pass a large onsen on the left at 3.7km. Keep going. At the top of the hill you will see a blue sign for Lake Saimyo. The restaurant (6.5km) is just past this sign on the left. It is bright yellow and has several parking spaces in front. The Chinese Dragon Pagoda park is next door. Liz Ruskin, Suzie Nardozzi, 2011.