Exploring Hiraodai Countryside Park
When I was planning my visit to the Wisteria Garden in Kitakyushu this year, I decided to do some research to see what else was in the area. This is how I found out about the Hiraodai Countryside Park! There was some information in English, but the photos are what made me want to check it out.
So, after the wisteria garden, I headed over to Hiraodai. It took about 35 minutes by car and there were no tolls. This makes it a great place to combine with a trip to the wisteria garden. No sense in paying the tolls just to see the wisteria and then go home.
I was in love before I even reached the parking lot. There was a hiking path on the left before the park that looked really nice and the views were already pretty nice. They have two parking lots, one is right by the park entrance and the other one is across the street. The parking fee is ¥300 for the whole day, which is less than $3.00 at the current exchange rate.
One of the best parts about this park is that there is no entrance fee. Yes. It’s FREE. They have brochures of the park available with a map inside. I asked for an English brochure and the nice lady at the entrance went and got one for me.
Finding food here will not be a problem. There are some food trucks and a restaurant. The restaurant serves the basic udon, curry, and soba dishes. The food in the restaurant is okay and pretty reasonable.
Hot dog anyone?
There’s also plenty of space for those who want to bring a nice picnic lunch to enjoy.
After eating some lunch, I couldn’t wait to take a ride on the little “train” called Kitapoppo I saw sitting out by the restaurant. I had to purchase a ticket for ¥100 out of the vending machine located near the spot where you board the train.
This is where people wait to board the train and the schedule is also posted here.
There was about 15 minutes before the next train so I walked over to the observation platform to check out the beautiful views.
The views were pretty fantastic and I even saw some people hang gliding around the mountain across from the observation point.
After enjoying the views for a few minutes, I headed over to catch the train. It was filling up pretty quickly and within a few minutes of claiming my seat, it was sold out.
I have to say, it’s a pretty cool train and I may have been as excited as the younger passengers! The train takes people from the main side of the park to the opposite end. This is where the campsite is located. Along the way it makes one stop at an area that has a playground and another observation point.
I loved the views so much! The different shades of green and all of the rock formations were so beautiful to look at.
At the other end of the park is the campsite. Some of the campsites had a parking spot right next to it and the parking fee here is also ¥300 per day. For more information and to make reservations, please call 093-452-2715. It might be a good idea to have a Japanese speaking friend call for you, or ask ITT to assist you with making reservations. The office is open from 0900-1700, and the campgrounds are only open from April through October.
This end of the park is also where the grass slides are. I kept seeing adults carrying plastic sleds and wondered where they were going with them.
Then I saw this. There are two hills for the kiddos to slide down. This one is for the older kids, and there is a smaller hill next to it for the little ones. I spent some time wondering if it was okay for adults to slide down the hill.
After leaving the park, I explored the area around the park. I took a right as I exited the parking lot (I was in the parking lot by the entrance to the park) and then when I got to the end of the road I took another right. Following the signs to the Senbutsu Cave, I saw a few areas I could park and walk around.
I did make it to the cave also, but didn’t realize it is a pretty long cave. Seeing people walk out with wet pants made me realize I wasn’t quite prepared for this. I decided to save that for my next trip!
Hiraodai is a great place to add on to a visit to the Kawachi Wisteria Garden, but it’s also a great place to explore on its own. It can be a great day trip and it can also be a great weekend getaway for those who enjoy camping.
It takes about 2.5 hours to drive to Hiraodai from Iwakuni and the tolls were approximately ¥9,000 round trip, which is about $83 at the current exchange rate. If you are going just for the day, it would be worth it to rent a car.