I am Eri Sugawara of the Eri-Taku Couple, and I love going on car camping trips all over Japan with my husband in our crossover SUV Suzuki Hustler. This time, we went car camping in Shimonaguri (Hanno City, Saitama Prefecture) at a lovely Carstay station called Naguri Fire Pit Garden!
This is a highly recommended travel course for those who want to have a private little road trip in rural areas of Tokyo and Saitama.
About Shimonaguri area in Hanno, Saitama
Sightseeing in Hanno means going to Metsä, a Moomin theme park near Lake Miyazaki that features Metsä Village and Moominvalley Park, and to Tove Jansson Akebono Children's Forest Park, a theme park based on Scandinavian fairy tales.
Hanno certainly reminds people of Moomin and Finland.
Actually, the area of Naguri in Hanno is loaded with many tourist attractions including Yasaka Shrine (power spot), natural hot springs, and fancy cafés, as well as fun activities like trekking, canoeing, and forest cycling.
Arriving at Naguri Fire Pit Garden!
Naguri Fire Pit Garden is about a 30-minute drive from Metsä Village.
Greenery increased and the beautiful nature became more visible as we escaped from the town of Hanno into the more secluded area of Naguri. We drove past a bunch of cute and fancy cafés, which caught my attention...
But the GPS was taking us to the top of a narrow and steep slope!
We saw some nice log houses along the way as our Hustler rattled up the hill.
Upon reaching the top, a spectacular view greeted us! Naguri's natural beauty as seen from the top was beyond compare; I could taste the sweetness in the air! I felt so lucky knowing that I would get to stay that night.
The noise from our engine announced our arrival to the Carstay hosts who quickly got out of their log house to welcome us through a beautiful front garden.
About the hosts Ken and Joann Taguchi
When Joann was looking for a new place to move into, a real estate agent brought her to Shimonaguri in Hanno, Saitama. She said she was overcame by the beauty of it and cried (her reaction surprised the real estate agent) as soon as she saw the place. Love at first sight got them their current log house.
They currently live together with Asu, an abandoned Plott Hound, tucked away in nature.
Asu is very friendly and welcomes everyone!
It's full of handmade goods made from nature, such as handmade bags, custom-made clothes, plant-based perfumes, soap made with vegetable oils and herbal extracts. I loved their perfumes♪
Fetching water from a spring near Naguri Fire Pit Garden
Joann said that there's a place to get fresh and delicious spring water close by, so Taku and I went to go see it.
It took us about 15 to 20 minutes on foot to get there and we crossed a bridge over the Iruma River. Looking at the mountains and the river as we walked was refreshing already♪
It was just a straight path from the foot of the bridge, but we still got lost so we stopped by at a local post office to ask for directions. The staff there was so nice—we felt the warmth of the local people. Finally, we arrived at Koushin-no-Mizu.
A night to remember at Naguri Fire Pit Garden
Every time we go car camping as a couple, we usually stay at roadside stations. Camping at Naguri Fire Pit Garden was our very first Carstay experience!
I was a little worried at first about what it'd be like, but I knew that it's got to be better than any roadside station.
Car camping has becoming more popular lately, making roadside stations busier than usual at night. Although not exactly loud, the sound of people getting in and out of their cars, the slamming of doors, and cars passing by is not at all unusual.
But at Naguri Fire Pit Garden, you only hear the sound of cascading river and the chiming songs of crickets. Simply uh-may-zhing!
The first thing I saw when I wake up in the morning was nature and the gentle morning sun.
At roadside stations, sometimes you have large trucks coming and going, besides private vehicles, so your throat may end up feeling a little scratchy due to the fumes.
Now, not only did my throat feel good, my whole body felt rejuvenated after just one night at Naguri Fire Pit Garden. The fresh air that you breathe in at night truly makes a whole world of difference when you wake up in the morning.
TBS Station actually covered our whole day at Naguri Fire Pit Garden for their show “Sono Hoka no Hito ni Atte Mita” ("Meeting more people"). The hosts let us use their private toilet and bathroom in the log house, but there's another toilet 300 meters away that's available for use any time of the day. Not to mention there's also a natural hot spring called "Taishokaku" just a 3-minute drive away, so I felt very comfortable.
Carstay Station Naguri Fire Pit Garden definitely made me want to come back soon! The hosts, who live right there, have very information about the place as well as the stories! You can forge new memories with the places and people you meet as you travel all over Japan!
Hurry and make your reservation now at Naguri Fire Pit Garden in this link♪