Slow Times in Kakamigahara

April’s Japan Blog Matsuri, hosted by Ken on What Japan Thinks is all about Slow Times in Japan, the opposite to last month’s blog carnival about Fast Times, for which I wrote about some of my off-beat experiences in Japan.

As a self-employed, work-at-home dad living in the countryside, I have a lot of free time. As most of you know, I’m usually glued to my computer screen, but three times a week, my wife heads off to her part-time job, leaving me and Rikuto to fend for ourselves.

We live in Kakamigahara in Gifu prefecture. It’s a city of around 150,000 people, and although it’s only an hour’s drive north of Nagoya, it’s quite different to the mass of buildings that make up Japan’s fourth biggest city. Being on the southern edge of the Kiso Mountains (aka Central Alps), there’s no shortage of hiking trails and parks in which to spend our Slow Times in Japan.

Here’s a collection of photos of us exploring some of the parks in and around the city, with links to each location on Google Maps.

The view from our house

We live at the foot of the Central Alps…View from our house

Sohara Nature Park (Google Map)

This is the closest of the city’s major parks. We usually go here for cherry blossoms and barbecues.

Sohara Natural Park

100 Year Park (Google map)

This one, although only a 10 minute drive away, is actually in Seki city, but I’ve included it since it’s as near as any of the others. It’s absolutely huge by Japan’s “park” standards and will be years before we’ve explored it all.

100 Year Park

Oasis Park / Aquatoto, Kawashima (Google map)

Aquatoto is a “world fresh water aquarium”, surrounded by a park and the Kiso River.

Oasis Park

Kiso Three River Park (Google map)

This park is really simple. It’s basically a huge field with some playground apparatus. The best thing about it is there aren’t any ponds or streams for Rikuto to fall in, despite the name.

Kiso Three River Park

Hida Kisogawa National Park (Google Map)

We need to explore this one a little more as it’s actual a mountain full of trails and adventurous stuff. When we went, we just used the roller skating track for some pushchair grand prix practice.

Hida Kisogawa National Park

Ogase (Google map)

Ogase is popular in Kakamigahara for it’s big pond and fireworks festival. It’s nice to take a stroll around the pond then play in the park a bit.

Ogase

Kakamigahara Citizen’s Park (Google map)

Kakamigahara City likes to promote itself as a “green” city. Personally, I think the money they spend on parks would be better spent on other things, but our leaders at City Hall have just finished building a second huge park right outside their workplace (see the two parks on the map?).

Citizen's Park

Kakamigahara Natural Heritage Forest (Google map)

I think this one is the most beautiful of the parks I’ve been to so far in this city. So let me wrap this up with three pictures. The first two from the park and the last one from up in the forest.

Kakamigara Natural Heritage Forest 1

Kakamigara Natural Heritage Forest 2

Kakamigara Natural Heritage Forest (mountain)Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for other Slow Times in Japan as people send in their submissions for the April 2009 Japan Blog Matsuri (links at the top).

13 comments

  1. Shane

    The parks look very nice but it seems that getting Rikuto to stay still for a picture is quite a feat since he started walking ;)

    He looks like an active boy so I’m guessing your visits to the local parks tucker you both out!

  2. Mum

    Hi Nick,

    Ricky is certainly getting about now. He must wear you out, but it is good to have places to go.

  3. Deas

    I love how you’re such a proud dad. Rikuto’s in every shot! Great entry for the matsuri, Nick. I have to agree with Ken Y-N, I’m totally jealous of your internet entrepreneur lifestyle. Ha ha.

  4. JapanZone

    As a fellow work-at-home Internet entrepreneur Dad (of three) living in the Tokai area, we have a lot in common. I moved the family down to Aichi from Tokyo for some of the very reasons you touch on, mainly the fact that it’s more family friendly. We do occasionally venture north and thanks to the info in this blog entry, we’ll have to do some more park visits around Kakamigahara. The last time I was up there was when my retired-pilot father was over. We all went to the Kakamigahara Aerospace Museum, which both he and the kids loved. It has some nice outdoor play stuff for the kids, too.

  5. Billy

    Nick,

    Your son Rikuto is adorable. Great matsuri entry!

    I’m about to have my first child and this post is making me consider moving out to the countryside where we can enjoy nature as a family.

  6. Honor

    I love the pics Nick and what a beautiful area you live in. Makes me jealous. It’s funny, my fella and I have been talking about moving out of the immediate city area so that we can get easier access to just this kind of landscape. I still to be near enough a city though as I think I’d get withdrawal symptoms after a while : )