Sunday, September 21, 2014 Category : KANTO, SIGHTS

Located northwest of the Saitama Prefecture, is the small town of Nagatoro, which has been considered a prime destination for tourists visiting Japan, since the late 19th century. Its natural beauty is such, that the whole town has been designated as a natural park by the authorities of Chichibu. Nagatoro possess its own charm, worthy of a village that has been blessed with one of the most beautiful landscapes in Japan. The Arakawa River crosses through the middle of the town, creating many sightseeing spots where visitors can enjoy some of the most fascinating scenery. Even from the moment of exiting the train station, visitors can appreciate a natural monument: a 5 km rock bed along the riverbank, which is thought to have been there for thousands of years.


Nagatoro is a place that you can easily take a day trip to. It offers a peaceful space, far away from the noisy and crowded urban life of Tokyo, giving visitors the chance to be in touch with nature. The architecture of Nagatoro is very simple, and it takes us back in time, as many of its streets are designed with a classical Japanese style; an ideal setting for a short walk or bicycle ride. Nagatoro is located at the foot of Mount Hodo, making it the perfect destination for hikers.



Tourist Information Center.


The city of Nagatoro has made a great effort to make the town accessible to visitors, not only from Japan, but from all over the world. As soon as you leave the train station you can find the Tourist Information Center. Even if not all of the staff speak fluent English, the Information Center has all the necessary tools to help all kinds of travelers. Here you can find maps written in English, Chinese or Korean, completely free of charge. Not only that, but it also has a couple of multilingual Ipads, which can help you plan your visit to all the sightseeing spots you wish to visit. Simply by using one of the available “voice pens” at the counter, you can choose any of the interest points marked with small dots on the maps, and you will be able to hear all the information that you need in the language that you previously selected, including background information, directions on how to get there, and even price information.

At the Information Center you can also rent bikes to ride across town. The price is 500 yen for an hour, 1,500 yen for a half day (4 hours) and 2,500 for a full day (8 hours). Due to its location, close to Mt. Hodo, there are many slopes on the streets; in order to help visitors to enjoy their ride, all the bikes have a motor to make riding on the sloping roads easy, so exploring the town will be much more pleasant.



Rafting Tours through Arakawa River.


The main attraction of Nagatoro is the Arakawa River. The best way to enjoy it is by taking a rafting tour across the river. Before getting on the raft, visitors must go to the White Rafting Sales Office, located at the front of the train station. There, travelers can choose among the different type of tours, from the classic wooden raft, to a more modern inflatable raft, all of them are accompanied with expert boatmen and rafters that will help visitors to enjoy the experience. This way, you can appreciate the beautiful landscapes of the Arakawa River, and, at the same time, feel the thrill of riding through the river rapids. The prices vary from 1,000 to 3,000 Yen per person, depending on the route and type of raft that you wish to ride. Once you have bought your ticket, staff from the office will guide you to the boarding point. The trip lasts around 20 minutes, and can be enjoyed at any time of the year, due to the changing landscape of the river, during the different seasons, which makes it a completely new experience, depending on the season.


Once the rafting has ended, visitors can stay on the disembarking point or take a bus ride back to Nagatoro, which is already included in the cost of your ticket. There are also many spots in the river where you can enjoy a swim, therefore we recommend you take your swimsuit and some waterproof shoes, especially if you go during the summer. Without a doubt, rafting through the Arakawa River is a very pleasant activity for all the family.



Grape Picking


There are many grapes and other fruit farms surrounding Nagatoro, which tourists can visit to go fruit picking. A member of staff will explain to the visitors the correct way of choosing your fruit, as well as how to handle it so that you don’t damage it. The majority of these farms charge based on the amount of grapes or fruits that you collect, then you can either take your fruits home, or enjoy them there on the farm, as many of them have tables where you can eat your freshly picked fruit straight away. Japan is very famous around the world for having very high prices for fruit, however, they are of great quality and always have a very delicious and sweet flavour. Picking fruit from a farm is a great way of having fun and trying some fruits at a very affordable price.




Where to eat?


Noodles are the most famous food from Nagatoro. There are many restaurants where people can enjoy the famous soba or udon of the region. Prices start from 600 yen and can go up to 2,000 yen, depending on the dish and restaurant that you choose. We strongly recommend a visit to Chouseikan (長生館), where you can enjoy the Nagashisomen (流しそうめん). This is a very fun activity, in which noodles are placed in a long flume of bamboo with flowing water across the restaurant, and customers must try to catch them with the chopsticks. Don’t worry if you are not very good at using chopsticks, at the end of the flume, there will be a dish that collects the noodles that you couldn’t catch, just to ensure that everybody can enjoy them The area of Chouseikan is on a terrace that has a perfect view of the Arakawa river, allowing visitors to enjoy the beautiful landscape of the region. This is a great place to go with the family, friends or even on a romantic date. The price is between 1,000 and 2,000 yen, depending on any promotions that you can find. You can also enjoy of the regional sake and other drinks to go with your meal.


If you want to try the soba of the region, there’s nothing better than a visit to Hayashi (はやし). This little venue has the atmosphere of an old traditional Japanese restaurant- Here, you can enjoy soba prepared in many different types of dish, from the classic cold soba to the famous niku soba (served in a hot, meaty soup). The service is very good and the food is delicious, and it also has a delightful atmosphere, perfect for a relaxed meal out with friends.


To finish your meal, there’s nothing better than enjoying an icecream from Miyama.  Across from Hayashi, Miyama has many different ice cream flavours. We recommend trying the watermelon icecream, which is sweet, delicious and very refreshing during a hot summer.


Chouseikan: Saitama ken Chichibu-gun Nagatoro-chō Nagatoro 449

Hayashi: Saitama ken Chichibu-gun Nagatoro-chō Nagatoro 454 – 1



How to get there?


It is very easy to find your way to Nagatoro. You need to ride the train on the Seibu-Ikebukuro line all the way to Chichibu Station. There, you must change trains to the Chichibu Line and get off at Nagatoro Station. You can get a special one-day pass, which costs around 2,500 yen, this will cover your round trip and will reduce your travel expenses significantly. You can also use the Seibu-Shinjuku line and then change to the Seibu-Ikebukuro line in Tokorozawa station. Both options are very easy to use, so there’s no excuse not to go on an adventure in Nagatoro.