By Ignatius Koh
Perfect for a romantic getaway, for families, or for large groups, this campsite has something for everyone! It is not possible to get to Odagiri Garden by public transportation, but that is just one reason this place is so special. To get there, take the Tohoku Expressway to the Nasukogen exit. After you get off the highway, switch to one of the main roads through this resort town.
Off the main road, you will take a smaller local road to bring you to this rural retreat. Along this path you are greeted by sights of majestic mountains, expansive yellow-green grass meadows swaying in the wind, and the dark green of the surrounding forests. As you grow closer to the campgrounds, the roads become narrow and winding with not a building in sight. Keep a look out for the small wooden signs painted dark green with white lettering placed at the forks in the road pointing you in the direction of the tree houses.
Upon entering the campsite, you are greeted with the sound of silence. Take a deep breath of fresh air and relax. This campsite offers a great retreat for those looking to escape the compact cities of Japan, and is a refreshing break from the nearby tourist attractions.
The adorable older man who runs this place will notice your arrival and come out to greet you. He will present you with a packet containing information about the campsite's facilities along with your bill which you will pay before your departure. He will also offer you a coupon for the nearest onsen since the campground does not have any bathing facilities. He does not speak English, but will great you with a warm smile and attempt to chat with you and encourage you to stop by his café to drink some coffee with him. Unless you seek him out after this he will leave you alone. His hospitality is the wonderful casual kind that makes you feel more like a family coming to stay with close relative rather than guests at a hotel. This is accentuated by the fact that this "campsite" is in reality the older man's backyard. You can feel his happiness at simply having guests to enjoy his property.
While this campsite offers plenty of dry platforms to pitch your tent, the primary attraction is its tree houses. Live out your childhood fantasies of climbing up a tree to sleep surrounded by nature above ground for a night. Snuggle up in your sleeping bag as you listen to the noise of nature. The little stream running through the campsite offers a perfect soundtrack for catching some sleep. Reignite your childhood spirit of adventure as you explore the forest. Relax by swinging from the tree swing hanging below your tree house. Walk through the campsite to spend some time with the animals and the owner's dogs. Feel your heart beating as your cross the shaky narrow bridge across the ditch. At night, don't forget to look up at the sky. The lack of light pollution in this remote location makes for a spectacular view of the stars.
The site is quite large with 13 tree houses spread across the property ranging from 8000 to 12,000 yen per night. Each tree house can hold about 4-5 people. You are free to visit the website to look at the map of the campsite and see pictures of each tree house. If you'd like to use the BBQ areas, there is an extra charge of 1000 yen per tree house and includes wood for the fire. Please call ahead to make reservations!
On your way home, you might want to check out one of the many spots in town. Nasu is known for its quaint atmosphere with increasing number of tourist attractions. On one of the main roads through town you will see some local shops advertising their specialties. These range from handmade crafts to fresh cheesecake punctuated by the occasional artisan cafe and even a delectable burger restaurant called "UNICO Café" with a front that sells handcrafted silver jewelry. This town also has a wide variety of art museums making this a very hip spot.
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Brittany is a firm believer in trying all foods at least once, spending as much time outdoors as possible, and taking advantage of any opportunity to experience traditional Japanese culture. Originally from the Adirondack Valley in Upstate New York, she is currently living and teaching English in Japan's majestic and landlocked Tochigi Prefecture.