Outdoors Gunma, Japan

An avalanche of rain greeted me at Annakaharuna Station located in the deep recesses of Gunma.   I looked around the small Shinkansen (train)  stop and wondered where am I? I was soon greeted by Patric Spohn owner and proprietor of Abseiling Me. We agreed to meet a few weeks ago and unfortunately the rainy season started 12 days earlier than expected.  I’m sure neither of us expected overcast skies and swamp like puddles greeting me at the terminal exit.

We drove for a while until we arrived at the campsite.  Even through the rain I could see the outlines of a small village. Tiny triangle shaped bungalows nestled between trees offered hints of a new type of adventure.  Upon entering the main house, I noticed the burnished wood and the two tree trunks supporting the ceiling frame of the building. A rotating melody of oldies from the 60s and 70s greeted my ears and reminded me of what it was like to have a car.  (I mean where else would you have the time to listen to those tunes.)

After a few pleasantries with Partric and enjoying a late night steak smothered in his

Check out the inside of this bungalow!

special whipped butter and homemade bread; I was ready for bed.  Patric showed me to a bungalow located directly across from the shower area.  I walked into a cabin shaped like the top of a gingerbread house. I was amazed at how this structure that appears small on the outside could actually fit 10 people in it.  I quickly explored my little nest for the night and then snuggled right into sleep.  I knew it was raining outside but I couldn’t hear a thing. I guess the insistent patter didn’t intrude my slumber for one minute. Lucky me!

I’ve always been an early riser and Monday was no different. I awoke at 5:40 AM and

noticed that the rain had stopped. I put on my sweater and took a stroll around the campsite.  There are quite a few other bungalows that were a lot easier to see during the day.  There was a tall rectangular one with hardwood floors and a few other triangle homes.  Abseiling Me seemed to turn the tables on the traditional cabin. I didn’t see any logs holding the structures but marbled stone that seemed to meld into the very base of the units.

The one word that comes to mind when I think about how the campsite looked is lush.  The greenery that surrounded the campsite seemed to swallow me up.  The tall thin trees were pin straight.  They looked like a wall protecting the camp from the outside world.

I ventured out onto the main road and I could see the waterfall between the trees.  The rushing rapids seemed to be speaking about the harsh rain that we had experienced for the past two days. The water was fast and furious!  I stood on the embankment and just watched nature at work.  I continued along the path and then stepped into the forest. You often hear of the forest floor being described as a carpet. I would have to say this was more like a foam pillow. Each step left an impression that seemed to form and make me almost believe I was the only one who had ever traipsed upon this land.

I ended my journey and headed back to my three sided abode and took another nap.  The rain had started again and burrowing underneath a pile of blankets seemed a lot more appealing than getting drenched.  After a while I had to wake for breakfast. That’s when the real tour began.  Patric took me around the area and brought me up close and personal to the waterfall that I had only greeted with a courtesy nod earlier.  We went through the mountains and we saw an old grave site, a temple and a vast patch of land with trees that acted as a roof.  We hopped in his car and headed about 2km up towards Haruna Shrine.  It was like most shrines in Japan.  Before you arrive a bevy of small shops, corner stalls, stands and restaurants all vying for your tourist dollars. We walked up to the shrine and you could still see and hear the rushing rapids that

Abseiling Me offers a variety of excursions for the novice and professional outdoorsman. But my purpose was simple. I was on a scouting mission for the best place to bring a group of young campers.  I was looking for a place that is safe, secure and close to the local hospital.  Abseiling Me has a list of wonderful outdoor programs.

The proprietor, Patric, has been an outdoors aficionado since 1991.  I strongly suggest you check out a campsite that will make you wonder why you live in the city.

If you are looking for a great place to go camping in Japan, look no further! Find out more at Abseiling Me!*

*Abseiling- (from German: abseilen meaning “to rope down”), rappelling in American English, is the controlled descent down a rock face using a rope; (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abseiling)


About Michaela Chatman

Michaela Chatman is the founder of Camp Roadless Summer Visual and Performing Arts Summer Camp based in the Tokyo area. She has taught in Chicago, New York City, Hiroshima, and Tokyo. She has worked with children from ages 5-16. She is a dedicated fan and supporter of the arts. She performs locally in Tokyo with Kaguratei, a blues band. She is an active member in TELL:Exceptional Parents Group, Japan Affiliate of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum (JASCD), Tokyo Investment Group, and Pink Cow Connections Networking Group. For fun she organizes The Tokyo Lovers Pizza Meetup Group.
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