Turkey Maple is currently full
- turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce (will charge) - Adam & Asuka
- hors d'oeuvre - Justin
- salad - Tammy
- spiced wine (will charge) - Adam & Asuka
- Abraham Lincoln's mugicha- AB(e)
- ginger ale - Kushal
- dessert - Mami
- dessert - Seb
- dessert or appetizer - Marco
- dessert - Marina
- dessert (pie) - Aiko
- breakfast and coffee (will charge) - Adam
- fruit - Hiro
- fruit - Karthik
- fruit - Asa
- Laser Lights - Seb's son
- game around fire - Mie
Adam's car FULL
Marco's car FULL
1,2) Marco +wife
3,4) Seb +son
Tammy's van (6~8 people, Meguro 8:45, Shibuya 9:00, Yoyogi 9:20, Shinjuku 9:25 - 6,000yen RT/person)
Takashi's van (6 people, Ikebukuro Station West Gate Exit 1b in front of Kojitsu Sanso Outdoor Gear Shop 9:30) FULL
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Turkey Maple, a Thanksgiving dinner at the site of a former logger's camp in a colorful kouyou valley. I will bring as many turkeys as necessary and deep fry them over an open fire for an authentic Thanksgiving feast. Along with turkey, Asuka and other volunteers will prepare sides of stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce. We'll sit and eat under a canopy of red maple and golden beech leaves. After our dinner, we'll have a bonfire and drink spiced wine until it has all been drunk. Finally satisfied, we can crawl into logger's cabins and fall asleep to the sound of the babbling river.
The following day, we may walk up or down the road to feast our eyes on the valley's awesome colors. A 10km corridor in the Nakatsugawa gorge is designated as a scenic treasure for autumn colors by Saitama Prefecture, and our camp sits in its heart center. According to local sources, we'll be there shortly after peak season (by one week), but colors will still be spectacular. I can assure you! Perhaps we'll have better colors going downstream, as the colors change earlier at higher elevations. Because of the valley's steep and rugged terrain, the logging industries were unable able to cut down the trees, so they left Nakatsu Gorge largely untouched. Today, it is one of the most famous places to view kouyou 紅葉 (autumn colors) and momiji 紅葉 (red maples) in Saitama, and it's a place where we can get a glimpse of what prehistoric Japan must have looked like. About a 30 minute walk downstream from our camp is a temporary (one month a year) local food vendor who serves wild boar's meat, trout, mushrooms, and udon with vegetables. We should have enough time to enjoy the camp, view the leaves and try some local food before catching the last bus to Chichibu at 4:00.
updated news and info about autumn leaves in Chichibu
additional info on where to view Kouyou in Chichibu
Chichibu autumn color info from an independent source
About the Venue:
I went ahead and checked out the camping ground in advanced. I realized the place wasn't perfect place I had in mind, but then I gave up on trying to make everything being perfect and I have settled on this time and location. It's going to work, and it's going to be unbelievable!
The folks who run Nakatsugawamura Camping Ground used to be in the logging business, but when the demand for timber went dry, they turned their property into a camping ground. The proprietors are salt of the earth people who are managing to carve out a living in a harsh environment. The venue is full of dualities (pros and cons). The pros are that one, it's available and can accommodate large groups. Due to COVID, so many camping areas are nearly impossible to reserve these days, not to mention ones with good fall colors. Two, the owners are laid back and don't have or enforce many rules. This one is important for me... I intend to reserve a small wing of the property so we have a sense of privacy and won't disturb other guests. Three, it's in a wild and scenic area with a river and spectacular autumn leaves. Finally, it has a massive kitchen with large nabe pots that I absolutely need in order to deep fry the turkeys.
The cons are that one, it's hard to get to by public transportation. It's takes almost 4 hours and a few transfers by train and bus from Shinjuku (almost 2 hours in a bus up a winding road). The transportation cost is around 3,000yen one way. Two, the campground is a little dirty, unorganized, and smells of dust and mold. I don't think the owners work hard on maintaining the place, so it has a rough appearance. Don't expect the camping ground to be pristine and beautiful. It's not the kind of place for the Paris Hilton type. The feng shui is way off too. On the bright side, the toilets are new, large, and clean. Three, it's not dirt cheap like you might expect, based on its appearance. It will cost 2,000yen per person, per night (minimum). If you want more space, you'll have to pay more.
Nakatsugawamura Camping Ground's website (I'm a little surprised they have one...)
The Logger's Cabins:
With a large group, I believe the cabins are going to be a better choice for us versus tents. The cabins are centrally located by the kitchen, toilets, and river. It will be easier for us to prepare a big meal in a more central area. If we reserve enough cabins (I think 4 is enough), then we can have an entire wing of the property to ourselves and have our own private party. There are both 4 and 6 person cabins with tatami mats, a light, a single electric outlet, and the omnipresent scent of of mold and dust.
I understand that some people prefer to camp. I am usually one of those people too. If you insist on sleeping in your own tent I accept that. It may be possible to reserve a space in a cabin and stealthily squeeze your tent behind one of the cabins. Like I said, the owners are pretty laid-back, they probably won't even notice. But, you will be more helpful to me if you agree to reserve a spot in one of the cabins. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let's try and stick together. I appreciate your willingness to cooperate.
Sat, Nov 7
12:30 - arrive
15:00 - Thanksgiving dinner!
17:00 - bonfire by the river
Sun, Nov 8
8:00 - cowboy coffee & breakfast
11:00 - Kouyou walk and local food stand
16:00 - head home
By public transportation-
Public transportation takes a little less than 4 hours from Shinjuku and costs about 3000 yen, one way.
From Ikebukuro, take the Seibu-Chichibu Line to Seibu-Chichibu Station (500yen extra if you take the Limited Express train). Be sure to arrive at Seibu-Chichibu at least 10 minutes before the bus leaves. Plan to arrive at Seibu-Chichibu Station extra early if this is your first time going there.
In front of the (only) gate is a bus stop. There are 4 buses (1 direct bus and 3 buses with one transfer) that run from Seibu-Chichibu Station to Nakatsugawamura Camping Ground, Nishidaira stop (second to last).
Buses Schedule from Seibu-Chichibu Station to Nakatsugawa
8:35 (M6 only, direct bus to Nakatsugawa), arrives at 10:00
9:10 (switch buses at Mitsumineguchi Station M4 to M6), arrives at 11:00
12:30 (switch buses at Mitsumineguchi Station M4 to M6), arrives at 14:00
4th bus (13:30) arrives at 15:50, also M4 to M6, but you will miss the dinner.
Taking a car can save you time (3 hours by car, 4 hours public transportation), money (if divided amoung 4 people), and motion sickness from the bus. If you do drive, keep in mind that you may hit weekend or leaf peeper traffic.
Cost (per adult):
2000yen - cabin fee* (4 or 6 people per cabin)
6000yen - transportation
3000yen - dinner, wine, & breakfast
500yen - OCJ fee (because this is an overnight social event, an OCJ fee will be added)
[Things to Bring (持参もの)
- warm clothes
- winter jacket
- winter hat
- sleeping bag (or you can rent a futon and blanket)
- sleeping pad (or rent a futon, we'll sleep on tatami)
- fork & knife (bring your own and help reduce or use paper and plastic)
- cup or mug for hot spiced wine and coffee
- thermos (not required, but can I borrow it for wine and coffee?)
- food container, tupperware or doggy bag to take home leftovers in
- camping chair
- offering: dessert, hors d'oeuvre, drink, or entertainment (traditionally we eat pie for Thanksgiving, but you bring anything you want)
Sign Up Conditions, Contact Details:
Cutoff to sign up or cancel is Sunday, November 1st at 5PM.
Less than two weeks until Turkey Maple. You'll have to see it to believe it!