All I wanted to do for Golden Week was get out of Tokyo and into nature. A friend of mine suggested Uchiurayama Kenmin no Mori, which is a mountainous camping area with a lush forest only kilometers from the sea. It's a beautiful area, but if you camp at Uchiurayama, I highly recommend going by car. There are no supermarkets nearby, and the nearest convenience store is an hour hike from the campground. The service center at the campgrounds does sell cup noodles and snacks in case you get hungry but aren't willing to hike for two hours. However, we were able to get there by a Keisei bus from Tokyo Station to Awa-Kominato Station, and then we went by foot once we arrived.
Uchiurayama is extremely family friendly with log cabins, an inn, auto camping, and tent grounds. You can rent absolutely everything needed for camping: tent, sleeping bag, lantern, pots and pans, grill… the list goes on an on. There's a lawn for kids to play, barbecue pits, a learning center, and tea house. Three trails are directly connected to the camp sites. Two of the trails are paved roads for cars and easy hiking. We took one of these trails up to see the dam. It was a really pleasant, short hike to see the different vegetation in the area. Within an hour we had already returned to the trailhead.
Another trail, せせらぎコース (Seseragi course), goes along a creek bed and up into the steep mountains. Seseragi was by far my favorite part of the journey. This was a great 2km hike teeming with wildlife. After eating lunch near the creek, we noticed two small pools with rippling water. Hundreds of tiny brown tadpoles were swimming around in these shallow puddles. We met bird watchers along the way that told us to keep our eyes and ears open for the elusive Oruri blue bird.
There was so much wildlife in each area. At night, we could hear the owls hooting above our tent, in the morning, frogs croaking loudly. Caterpillars crawled absolutely everywhere. On our hike down to the beach, we saw a bounding deer near the flooded rice fields. A Blue Rock Thrush hopped among the seaweed, looking for bits of food to eat. We had lunch at a traditional Japanese restaurant near the beach. Chiba is famous for sashimi, and for good reason.
Going back to Tokyo after a refreshing week in the wilderness was really difficult, but the forests and beaches of Chiba will be waiting for me.