The Great Outdoors of Uenomura Village
This past winter we took a little trip to Uenomura, a small rural village in northeastern Gunma Prefecture. Surrounded by vibrant green mountains, we found that this seemingly quiet little town has many unique sites for those adventurous enough to go check it out!
Fujido Limestone Cave
Our first stop was Fujido Cave, a stunning naturally formed cave near Sky Bridge.
As you enter there is a long manmade corridor you walk through to get to the cave proper.
Once you pass through the corridor, you’ll come into the cave, which is lit up with different colors throughout, adding a unique and varied atmosphere as you traverse this vast 2.2-kilometer cave.
Many of the highlights throughout the cave have been given Buddhist-inspired names, and some include English explanations.
This area of the cave has stones that can apparently be struck to make different tones. I wonder what kind of tunes can be performed in this cave…
Explorer’s 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.
If you pay attention you’ll catch site of actual Buddhist statues and donation boxes as well. Be sure to check every nook and cranny!
Let’s go exploring in the largest limestone cave in the Kanto Area.
The cave is huge–2.2. kilometers long. Lights are on inside to show off the different colors of the limestone. Forty-eight spots have Buddhism-inspired names.
You’ll feel as if you’re walking through a world of fantasy. The temperature is always about 12℃, so it’s refreshingly cool in summer and warm during the cold of winter. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes as it takes about 40 minutes to walk through the whole cave.
|Ticket sales:||Fujido Office (at the cave entrance)|
|Ticket price:||Adults ¥800, children in elementary and junior high school ¥500|
|Hours:|| 9：00 to 16：30 |
※Hours may change during winter months
Next up is the Skybridge, conveniently located near Fujido Cave.
Skybridge connects Mahoba no Mori and Kawawa Nature Park where Fujido Cave is located. These two locations are separated by a vast valley that makes for a spectacular view from the bridge!
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!
We were on our way to Mahoba no Mori, but if you wait long enough, you’ll be able to see the special bubbles show that is conducted at regular intervals during the day.
An enormous suspension bridge connecting Mahobo-no-mori and Kawawa Nature Park
Length: 225 meters
Height: 90 meters
The view from the bridge is magnificent!
You’ll feel like you’re walking through the air while enjoying a view of the grand nature of Ueno Village.
Bring your camera along if you’re going to be on the bridge when the soap bubbles are released!
【Hours: 8:30 to 17:30】
Soap Bubble Release
12 times a day
Every 30 minutes between 10:00 and 15:30
※Soap bubbles may not be released if the weather is bad.
Hours may change during winter months, so be sure to call ahead.
Mahoba no Mori
Next up on our itinerary is Mahoba no Mori, an amalgamation of lodging and activities that has something for everyone. Mahoba no Mori is just on the other side of Skybridge from Fujido Cave. With beautiful wood cottages, outdoor eating, and camp grounds, Mahoba isn’t just surrounded by, it IS part of the gorgeous natural scenery.
Dining options here include an outdoor barbecue area and a café with delicious jumbo soft-serve ice cream, but we had other plans for lunch when we visited.
Feel the energy of nature. Overnight accommodation and recreation area where visitors can feel at one with nature.
Mahoba-no-mori is connected by Sky Bridge to Kawawa Nature Park where Fujido Limestone Cave is located. Cabins are equipped with kitchens, baths and toilets. Other facilities include a camping area, barbecue house, café and even a hill for sliding down the grass. Visitors will find plenty to do for everyone from outdoor beginners to camping veterans.
Visitors enjoy the freedom of the outdoors in the camping area. Cars and motorcycles can be parked inside and pets are allowed.
Barbecuing is a breeze when you get inobuta slices, vegetables and rice, and all the equipment you need to cook them up. (Tebura♪BBQ) Leave your worries and kitchen utensils behind!
※ Check with our staff to get the tebura BBQ!
Feeling tired after all that fun? Come to Café Mahoba for Tenku Jumbo Soft—soft-serve ice cream cones 2.5 times the normal size.
Look out over the mountains as you eat and your ice cream will taste even better!
For details contact:
Ueno Shinkokosha Co., Ltd. http://uenomura-tabi.com/top/stay/mahoba/
Homemade Soba Noodles Soba Noodles Fukujuan
For lunch we decided to try some hand-made soba (buckwheat) noodles at Fukujuan. Their menu has a variety of sets and all their dishes use fresh local ingredients.
We went for some hot and some cold soba noodles, both of which were delicious.
Some of the sets at Fukujuan also come with Tempura, which is fried in a deliciously flaky batter. The cold noodles are served on a sheet of bamboo, and you eat them by dipping them into the soup one bite at a time. I highly recommend this style of eating if you want a more unique experience!
|Hours:||11:00 to 15:00|
Closed on Wednesdays
|For information call||0274-59-2267|
Roadside Station Ueno
Next, we decided to do some shopping at Michi no Eki (Roadside Station) Ueno. There are plenty of local specialties sold here, including Inobuta pork, shiitake mushrooms, and miso products.
You can find homemade bread, local produce, and pastries here, as well as a restaurant featuring a menu filled with fresh local Uenomura ingredients. If you’re looking for non-perishable souvenirs, there are also wood products such as vases and frames.
And don’t worry if you don’t have any cash on you!—Credit cards are accepted here!
Shop: 9:00 to 18:30
Restaurant: 11:00 to 15:00
※Hours may change during winter months, so be sure to call ahead.
Woody Uenomura Wood Crafts Shop
Right next to the roadside station is the Woody Uenomura Wood Workshop. This shop is run by the Uenomura Woodland Association and sells wood works directly from the makers.
If you didn’t find something you liked at the roadside station, you’re bound to find a great souvenir here. All products use natural, unprocessed wood of the finest quality.
There are too many things to choose from!
Upstairs are more high-end items that might be too expensive to purchase, but I definitely recommend taking a look. They can be appreciated as works of art in their own right! Especially this amazing miniature ship…
I’m fairly sure this one isn’t for sale…
Wood crafts sold by the Uenomura Forestry Cooperation are available.
Enjoy handmade items with the beauty of natural wood.
For information call: 0274-59-2019
Closed on Wednesdays
Former Kurosawa Residence
After lunch, we checked out a historical building that used to be home to the Kurosawa family who represented the village during the Edo Period when it was under the direct jurisdiction of the Bakufu government.
Watch your head going in!
The residence has been kept in excellent condition, making it a rare opportunity to see an Edo-period residence much as it was when it was originally erected.
The sliding doors are gorgeously decorated with calligraphy, and the second floor is filled with historical artifacts and silk-reeling equipment used in the past.
In the past, Gunma produced and exported silk all around the world. Though no longer the powerhouse of textile production it once was, you can still experience some of its history here at the Kurosawa Residence.
During the Edo era, Ueno Village was under direct control of the Tokugawa government, with the Kurosawa family in charge. The Former Kurosawa family house was built in the nineteenth century and is a designated national important cultural asset. It has many characteristics of architecture of that era, such as its ishioki-bukiya roof covered in stones.
|Hours:||9:00 to 16:00|
Closed on Wednesdays
|Entrance fee:||Adults ¥300, children in elementary and junior high school ¥100 |
Groups (20 or more) Adults ¥200, children in elementary and junior high school ¥80
Yamabikoso and Shionosawa Onsen
After a long day on the town, we arrived at our hotel for the night: Yamabikoso!
This quaint little hotel surrounded by nature has a gorgeous wooden interior that offers a warm, inviting atmosphere where guests can relax, as well as gorgeous abstract calligraphy.
The spread for dinner was absolutely fantastic.
Traditional meals at Japanese ryokan always include a great variety of dishes, including pickles, sashimi, and boiled veggies among other things. The star of the show tonight, however, was the inobuta nabe (hot pot). Inobuta is a local breed of swine crossing the common domestic pig with wild boar.
After dinner we had a dip in the Shionosawa Onsen which includes a great open-air onsen that allows guests to enjoy the gorgeous scenery while they bathe.
After our buffet-style breakfast in the morning, it was time to head out. We had a great time in Uenomura and hope that others come and enjoy this hidden gem in rural Gunma!
Hotel surrounded by a natural environment that changes with the seasons. The inn itself is made with Ueno Village lumber and has a relaxing atmosphere. During the fall season, trees in front of the building are lit up at night so guests can thoroughly enjoy the beauty. Recommended for visitors looking to relax in a natural environment.
〇 Rooms: 23 tatami rooms and 4 Western-style rooms (can accommodate up to overnight 94 guests).
Shionozawa Hot Spring
Large baths are available inside, in a cave and outdoors.
※Water quality qualifies as a hot spring (onsen) according to the items in the separate chart of Article II of the Onsen Law for metaboric acid and sodium hydrogencarbonate.
Hot spring day pass: adults ¥600 and children ¥400
Hours: 12:00 to 20:00 on all days except Tuesday and Friday (15:00 to 20:00)
|Address:||〒370-1617 888 Shionosawa Narahara, Ueno-mura, Tano-gun, Gunma-ken|
|Yamabiko Inn TEL||0274-59-2027|
|For details see Ueno Shinkokosha Co., Ltd. |