This is the perfect itinerary for a family or group of friends who want to experience the main attractions of Uenomura, and enjoy this village’s natural beauty from some very comfortable cabins.
- Riverside Visitors’ Center: Kawa no Eki
- Try one of their all-natural make-your-own crafts!
- Sky Bridge
- Mahoba no Mori Campground
- All-included BBQ at Mahoba
- Overnight in Mahoba cabin
- Fujido Limestone Cave – the largest limestone cave in Greater Tokyo!
Riverside Visitors’ Center: Kawa no Eki
Our first stop is the Kawa no Eki Riverside Visitors Center. Kawa no Eki means “riverside rest station,” so you can think of this plaza as the perfect place to take a break and reorient yourself when you arrive in Uenomura. There are bathrooms, vending machines, and a small shop with coffee, ice cream, and fresh snacks. Plus, lots of handcrafted souvenirs and local specialty foods in the gift shop.
Uenomura is known for its all-natural handicraft culture. And what better way to experience this than to try a project for yourself? The visitor center’s Mori no Taiken-kan activity building offers craft sessions where you can make your own wood and leather crafts, try your hand at indigo dying, or even make your own noodles. Perfect for kids, and fun for adults too!
We decided to try our hands at making wooden bird calls.
We started by picking our animals—they’ve got doves, hawks, and wild boar piglets. After choosing one each, we sanded down the wood to make it nice and smooth.
The next step is the really fun part: painting! There are lots of paints and markers to choose from, and the design is totally up to you. It’s a great chance to get back in touch with your inner kid.
We finished them off by twisting in a metal screw about half way. When you twist the screw back and forth, it makes a chirping sound, just like a bird!
Kawa no Eki Riverside Visitors’ Center – Mori no Taiken-kan activity building
|Address||310-1 Narahara, Ueno, Tano District, Gunma 370-1617|
|Hours|| Fri – Wed: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM (reception desk closes at 3:30 PM)|
|Notes||・Reservations accepted by phone 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM|
・Activities may not be available some days, due to personnel availability and other circumstances. Thank you for your understanding.
・Event schedule and other info here: http://www.uenomura.jp/tourism/play/morinotaikenkan/index.html
Ueno Sky Bridge
Uenomura’s famous Sky Bridge is a pedestrian bridge, so visitors can stroll across at their own pace, stopping anywhere along the bridge to enjoy the amazing view. Walking over 90 meters above the ground gives you a truly exhilarating sense of walking on air!
This bridge connects Mahoba no Mori Campground with Fujido Limestone Cave on the other side of the valley, so it’s a useful route to know.
The bridge is fitted with bubble machines that shoot out streams of bubbles every half hour. It makes the view ever more fantastic, and it’s a great photo op too!
As you may have guessed from the video, this bridge is where we decided to test out our handmade bird calls. Once we got the hang of it, we could hear the birds calling back to us!
Ueno Sky Bridge details
|Address||665 Kawawa, Ueno, Tano District, Gunma 370-1614|
|Price||￥100 (across and back)|
|Hours||8:30 AM – 5:15 PM |
Open year round. Sometimes closed for bad weather.
|Soap Bubble Release||Every 30 minutes between 10:00 AM and 3:30 PM, April through November |
※Soap bubbles may not be released if the weather is bad.
After taking in the scenery from the bridge, it was time to head Mahoba no Mori campground where we would be staying for the night. The Sky Bridge is connected to Mahoba via a short pedestrian tunnel, so it’s very easy to get to.
Mahoba no Mori Campground
Mahoba no Mori has everything you could need to enjoy the great outdoors in perfect comfort. There are fully equipped cabins, campsites for tent camping, a covered barbeque area, a cafe restaurant, and more!
We decided to stay in one of the cabins. They look rustic on the outside, but they’re actually filled with every amenity you could want on the inside. Equipped with running water, electricity, heat, and AC, these cabins have kitchen areas with refrigerator and microwave, and bathrooms with showers. 4- and 8-person cabins both feature bunk beds with sheets and blankets provided. Shampoo, toothbrush, and other toiletries are also provided. The only thing they don’t provide is a bath towel, so it’s best to bring your own—they do provide hand towels though, which will work in a pinch!
The bunk beds were nice and cozy, and there were even reading lights in each bunk! Plus outlets close-by to charge your phone—I pretty much felt like a was staying in a hotel.
The kitchen had everything you might need too: a stove, a water boiler, and a fridge and microwave in another part off the cabin. You can borrow dishes from the main office. Cups, plate, and silverware are free for guests, and pots, pans, and larger items are available for a small rental fee (100 – 500 yen).
One of my favorite parts of the cabin was the little balcony in back. It was the perfect place to sit and chat while taking in the lush greenery of the campground and surrounding mountains.
After settling into our cabin, it was time for a Japanese-style BBQ dinner. Mahoba has a super convenient all-included BBQ package for just ￥3,000 per person. They provide the grill and the ingredients, and set it all out for you, so all you have to do is show up and start grilling! The menu consists of local Uenomura meat and fresh veggies. The local specialty is inobuta pork, i.e. meat from an animal crossbred between a pig (buta) and a wwild boar (inoshishi). It tastes like pork but slightly richer—I would definitely go back for more!
Rice is provided as well. The only thing that’s not included is drinks, but, as there are everywhere in Japan, there are several vending machines on site. The facility staff will clean the BBQ set up for you when you’re done as well, so it’s really no work at all!
After spending a very relaxing night in our cabin, we went down to the Mahoba Cafe for breakfast (￥1,200 per person)
Mahoba no Mori details
|Address||1169 Katsuyama, Ueno, Tano District, Gunma 370-1613|
After breakfast we walked across the Sky Bridge and headed over to Fujido Cave.
Fujido Limestone Cave
Fujido is the largest limestone cave in the Kanto Area (i.e. Greater Tokyo Area). This 2.2 kilometer cave is full of wondrous naturally formed rock structures. It’s cool in the summer and relatively warm in the winter, so it’s a great spot to escape the harsher temperatures at certain times of year.
We bought our entry tickets at the Fujido ticket office right on the other side of the Sky Bridge. It’s about a 10 minute uphill walk to get to the cave from there.
After passing through the entrance to the cave, we walked down a manmade tunnel to get to the cave proper. It’s a little spooky, so it’s perfect to get you in the right mood. At the end of the tunnel, a spiral staircase will take you up into the natural cave.
The cave is lit up with different colored lights throughout, many of them constantly changing.
As we traveled through the cave, we stumbled upon endless cool rock formations and interesting passage ways. Many of them have been named, and there are signs throughout with titles and explanations (including some English explanations!) Explorers of old thought the stalagmites in the area looked like Buddhas, which is why you see so many Buddhism-inspired names throughout the cave. There is even a pillar that supposedly grants wishes to those who touch it seven times. Plus some sinister spots as well.
After 40 minutes of exploration …
…we finally reached the exit!
There is another short walk back to the ticket office, but the path back offers great views of the valley.
Fujido Limestone Cave info
|Address||665 Kawawa, Ueno, Tano District, Gunma 370-1614|
Elementary & middle school children ￥500
|Hours||April – October: 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM|
November: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
December – March: 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Times may change due to time of sunset.
Open year round. Closed in case of heavy snow or typhoon.