The Real Life Locations of The Outdoor Activities Club, Rin and Nadeshiko’s Excellent Adventures: An Oculus-Powered Armchair Journey of Yuru Camp△ 2, Part II
March 2, 2021
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“The journey not the arrival matters.” –T.S. Eliot
For Yuru Camp△ 2‘s second third, the Outdoor Activities Club, Rin and Nadeshiko explore a plethora of locations in Yamanashi and Shizuoka as they continue to respectively carry out club activities and explore new horizons. During the course of the girls’ travels, they cover a vast amount of turf: a grand total of 247 square kilometres of map data was scoured to put this post together, and during the course of compiling a list of all locations, it become clear that each of the Outdoor Activities Club, Nadeshiko and Rin each have their own unique footprints as a result of how they choose to travel and have fun, using the modes of transportation available to them. With Chiaki, Aoi and Ena, their trip to Lake Yamanaka is primarily driven by whatever places they can reach by bus and on foot. Finding the spots they visited proved to be the easiest of everyone because Chiaki had organised their itinerary such that they’d be able to hoof it for the most part, using the bus to reach Camp Misaki as their first day drew to a close. Nadeshiko’s first-ever solo camping trip was similarly small-scale – thanks to Rin’s advice, Nadeshiko is keeping it simple for her excursion to Fujinomiya and Nodayama Health Green Space Park in Fujikawa sees her walking to most places, and taking the train to get close to her chosen campsite. Being more inquisitive and armed with Sakura’s suggestion, Nadeshiko’s footprint is slightly larger than that of the other girls, but the places she visits are still relatively easy to find. Conversely, with her experience and moped, the area of the minimum bounding box for the area Rin visits is the largest of everyone’s, and correspondingly, pinpointing where Rin visited proved to be the most time-consuming. However, because Yuru Camp△ 2 continues in its predecessor’s footsteps in using (mostly) real-world locations, even the most remote corners of Yamanashi can be easily found: the narrow mountain roads Rin travels along limits the search space, and with a bit of patience, I’ve been able to identify enough of the places for Yuru Camp△ 2‘s second third to have a post worthy of readers.
- When Sakura invites Nadeshiko out to dinner one evening, Nadeshiko is seen sprinting past Caribou to reach this restaurant, but a cursory look around Minobu shows no such place. Instead, it’s set at Fujiyoshi Pure Handmade Soba in Kofu – like Caribou, which was modelled after Sven in Hamamatsu and named after Elk (which is fifteen minutes south). Minobu is a little too small to host things, so I’m guessing that Yuru Camp△ has taken a few liberties with its locations to make it easier for Nadeshiko and her friends. In real life, Fujiyoshi makes solid, homemade soba noodles and chicken, but as Yuru Camp△ shows, they do in fact have a prawn tempura dinner set, as well. Customers are generally impressed with both the food and the service, making this a worthwhile destination to visit.
- I’ve fast-forwarded ahead to the Outdoor Activities Club’s visit to Fujiyoshida, which is the starting point for their camping trip to the shores of Lake Yamanaka. With its distinct glass façade, Mount Fuji Station is the terminal for the Fujikyuko Line and was given its current name in 2011. It services about fourteen hundred passengers daily, but for Chiaki, Aoi and Ena, I imagine they would’ve taken a bus to get here from Kofu: this is the fastest way, entailing a one-and-a-half hour long bus trip.
- Here, as Ena, Aoi and Chiaki run for their bus, a roller-coaster can be seen in the background. This rollercoaster belongs to Fuji-Q, an amusement park that opened in 1968 and is particularly well-known for its roller-coasters. Beyond this, Fuji-Q also has several themed attractions, including one for Gundam and Neon Genesis Evangelion. However, amusement parks are not the objective in Yuru Camp△, speaking volumes to what’s on Chiaki, Aoi and Ena’s mind for this camping trip.
- I did attempt to capture a screenshot of the building where Chiaki, Ena and Aoi grab their transit passes, but because of limitations in Google Street View, I was not able to get close enough to get a clean image. Like my previous Yuru Camp△ location hunts, I’ve exclusively used the Oculus Quest and Wander: its API hooks into Google Street View and its awesome capabilities, allowing me to find everything for these posts much faster than using a desktop or mobile version of Google Maps. My general rule is that if a location cannot be reached on Google Maps and has no information from Google Business, then I cannot feature the spot in these location hunts.
- The large Caribou store in Yuru Camp△ 2 is actually a Montbell, and sells branded Mount Fuji gear that cannot be purchased at any other Montbell locations. Unlike Yuru Camp△, however, there is no Caribou-kun standing watch at the doorway – instead, there’s a giant bear at the doorway instead. Customers report an impressive selection of outdoors products, and its proximity to Mount Fuji makes it a fantastic place to pick up any last minute gear before continuing on a hike or camping trip.
- Yamanakako Onsen (Benifuji no Yu) is a hot springs located 5.3 kilometres southeast of Montbell. It’s a 55-minute walk to get here on foot from Montbell, but since Chiaki, Aoi and Ena picked up transit passes, they can simply board a bus and arrive within fourteen minutes. Visitors are have nothing but good things to say about Yamanakako Onsen: although the staff aren’t too familiar with English, the best experience is to be had if one has a Japanese speaker in their group. The onsen are comfortable and peaceful, offering beautiful scenery, and the cafeteria itself is also excellent. offering meals in addition to ice cream.
- Admissions to Yamanakako Onsen is 800 yen per adult, but one can get a ten percent off discount if they bring in a special flier handed out by the tourism office. Credit cards aren’t accepted, so one should bring cash if they wish to visit. Beyond the outdoor pools seen in Yuru Camp△ 2, Yamanakako Onsen also has indoor pools, a sauna and steam room on site. This onsen is open every day of the week except for Monday and Tuesday, from 1000 to 2100, and while not shown in Yuru Camp△ 2, there’s also a small gift shop here, as well. From what I’ve read of Yamanakako Onsen, one could comfortably spend a half day here just taking in everything, although reception closes after 2030.
- Ogino Supermarket is only 800 metres away from Yamanakako Onsen: it’s under ten minutes to walk here from Yamanakako Onsen. Yuru Camp△ 2 renders the supermarket as Hagino. I’ve previously mentioned that my thoughts immediately strayed to Hinako Note because Hagino happens to be the surname of the landlady to Hitotose, and in a curious coincidence, her first name happens to be Chiaki, as well. Unlike Chiaki Ōgaki of Yuru Camp△, who is energetic and spirited, Chiaki Hagino is soft-spoken and reserved, although also quite kind. Looking around Ogino, it looks like they sell locally made wines, and generally speaking, they have a wide selection of fresh produce and ready-to-go meals that are less pricey than their counterparts in the Tokyo area.
- Misaki Camping Ground is located 4.9 kilometres east of Ogino, at the eastern edge of Lake Yamanaka. There aren’t too many attractions nearby (everything is located on the southern side of the lake), and the nearest convenience store is a 7-Eleven about 1.8 kilometres away, the camp ground itself is quite beautiful. Yuru Camp△ has traditionally presented the campsite managers as being friendly people, so it was a little surprising to see Yuru Camp△ 2 present the manager as being more intimidating. Having said this, visitors report the camp’s staff are friendly, and during the summer, the camp’s location makes it great for swimming. The site’s facilities, while not extensive, are adequate, and campers generally have an excellent time here.
- Yuru Camp△‘s sixth episode remained largely on the shores of Lake Yamanaka and didn’t take viewers to new destinations, but by the seventh episode, things felt more like an episode of Rick Steves’ Europe: between Nadeshiko and Rin’s travels, a lot of turf was covered. With the pair’s solo adventures kicking off, Rin visits Akasawa Village, a centuries-old stopping point for visitors visiting Keishin Temple. Today, Akasawa is a quiet place: the narrow mountain roads are too narrow for larger vehicles, and Akasawa itself is perched on the mountainside between fields of tea trees. Here, Rin travels down a side street leading into Akasawa’s old town.
- The aesthetic of Akasawa is reminiscent of Magome, the forty-third of the Nakasendō’s sixty nine stations, rest areas located along the route between Kyoto and Edo. Prosperous in its heyday, Magome briefly fell to ruin after the Chūō Main Line railway opened in 1889, but has since been restored to its former glory. Unlike Magome, which is now a popular spot for tourists, Akasawa remains tranquil: the owner of Shimizuya remarks that the average day sees about a hundred visitors at most, and even during the afternoon, when the sun bathes the village in a strong light, the place remained peaceful. This viewpoint overlooks the old town, and to the right, Shimizu-ya can be seen.
- Shimizu-ya is the cafe that Rin visits while in Akasawa, where she sits down underneath the kotatsu and begins melting from the comfort. She ends up ordering a mamemochi (豆餅) and amazake: the former is, per its name, a mochi with soybeans inside, whereas the latter is a sweet drink made from fermented rice. I’ve always found that Japanese sweets have a gentler flavour to them compared to confections I’m used to, and this allows for more subtle flavours to be tasted, as well. Unlike most places, Shimizu-ya’s staff are fluent in English.
- After her stop in Akasawa, Rin travels north up route 37 towards the westernmost reaches of Yamanashi. Route 37 runs along a narrow valley deep in the Minami Alps, and there are very few intersections or alternate routes, making it relatively easy to find everything. For Yushima Great Cedar Tree and Naradanosato Hot Springs that Rin visits up here, it was a matter of following the route north and doing a search for these attractions. Thus, even without precisely knowing the names of the places Rin visited, I was able to find everything without too much difficulty. Here is the same bridge Rin passes over from Akasawa en route to her next stop.
- Yushima Great Cedar Tree is thought to be the oldest tree in Japan: scientists estimate that it is anywhere from two to seven thousand years old, and despite not being particularly tall, its trunk is five metres across. Rin only stops to check out the most famous of the cedars here, which was spared from the axe on account of its impressive dimensions. The area is host to numerous other noteworthy trees, but a full hike takes up to ten hours. After swinging by, Rin heads off for her next destination and spots Sakura’s car after she reaches the trailhead, which is marked by a sign visible both in anime and real life.
- Rin subsequently heads north and stops at Sotoryo Temple, seven kilometres north of the trailhead leading to Yushima Great Cedar Tree. This temple, however, is not Rin’s final destination: she’s making use of the parking lot out front, and subsequently takes a walk around Hayakawa, the small village where Naradanosato Hot Spring is located. Adjacent to this hot springs is Cafe Kagiya. Tucked away on the forest’s edge, Cafe Kagiya offers a selection of sweets: Rin ends up trying their Shiso cheesecake, which has a sharp, citrus-like taste.
- Sakura’s decision to take a dip at Naradanosato Hot Springs was meant to accentuate her similarities to Rin. Because of its remoteness, the price of entry to Naradanosato Hot Springs is 550 Yen for adults, and as Sakura notes, the waters here are a bit cooler than the typical onsen‘s. Moreover, the facilities are a bit older and not wheelchair-accessible. Having said this, the atmosphere at Naradanosato is unparalleled, and much as Sakura had experienced in Yuru Camp△, the scenery from the baths are fantastic. Locals note that the lower intensity of the onsen‘s temperatures means that one can bathe for longer, allowing for the scenery of the mountain valley below to really be enjoyed.
- Forty seven and a half kilometres from Naradanosato Hot Springs as the mole digs, is Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha Shrine. Here, Nadeshiko passes by the torii at the front gates, having disembarked from Fujinomiya Station, which is only ten minutes away on foot. Located on the Minobu Line, Fujinomiya Station opened in 1903 and serves about 2400 passengers daily. From Ide Station in Nanbu, it’s a half-hour ride costing 320 Yen to Fujinomiya. Nadeshiko’s first solo camping trip isn’t particularly challenging: to go from Ide Station in Nanbu to Fujikawa Station only requires a single transfer from the Minobu Line to the Tkaido Line, and takes around 72 minutes in total one way.
- Dating back to 806 AD, Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha is a Shintō shrine that is said to have been built to appease the gods during a time when Mount Fuji was an active volcano. Although historical records for this shrine only date back to the ninth century, Mount Fuji only went dormant in 1707, giving this legend some basis in scientific fact. The shrine is intensely associated with Mount Fuji, and people visit here prior to ascending the mountain to pray for a safe journey. Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha’s hongen (main hall, seen here) was constructed in 1604, but has since undergone several renovations and repairs.
- After finishing her shrine visit and praying for a safe solo camping experience, Nadeshiko heads off for lunch. Right at the doorsteps of Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha, she finds a yakisoba place called Fujinomiya Yakisoba Antenna Shop – with a regular plate of noodles going for 450 Yen, portions are generous, and the noodles themselves are delicious. This does look like a pleasant place to stop, but Nadeshiko resists the temptation to have lunch here and head off – Sakura had left her with a recommendation from a place she likely visited previously on her own road trips.
- This recommendation is for a place called Okonomishokudō Itō (お好み食堂伊東, literally “Favourite Restaurant”), where Nadeshiko finds a lineup upon her arrival, which is located three kilometres away from Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha. The special she orders here is the Gomoku Shigure-yaki, a variation on the Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki where the yakisoba noodles are swapped out for Fujinomiya-style yakisoba noodles, and nikukatsu (rendered pork fat) is added, resulting in an incredibly rich and hearty okonomiyaki. Despite the generous portion sizes, okonomiyaki here only cost around 750 Yen, and so, Nadeshiko is able to order a little something extra, too. Credit cards are not accepted here, so visitors should be mindful of this and bring cash (which is never a problem for Nadeshiko and her friends).
- With lunch done, and shopping taken care of, Nadeshiko disembarks from Fujikawa Station and sets off for her campsite at Nodayama Health Green Space Park. Fujikawa Station would be a station one would pass by if they were headed for Hamamatsu, but Nadeshiko’s destination is a bit closer this time around. The station opened in 1889 as Iwabuchi, but was renamed in 1970, and today, it averages around 1500 passengers daily.
- The underpass that Nadeshiko uses is about four hundred metres west of Fujikawa Station and are known as “subways” in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. This creates a bit of confusion for folks from North America. In Hong Kong, whenever I saw such signs during my earliest visits, I imagined they were for the MTR, which is the underground rail mass transit system: upon coming down the steps to these subways, I was always confused that there was no entrance to the MTR. Underpasses are a bit rarer in my neck of the woods, but I am glad that the nearby park uses these to make it easier to get here without crossing a busy road.
- Nadeshiko soon ascends up a switchback that offers a stunning view of Fujikawa below. Because there’s only one way to ascend from Fujikawa Station to Nodayama Health Green Space Park, following the most optimal route will allow one to retrace Nadeshiko’s route with perfect accuracy, allowing one to gaze upon the same scenery that Nadeshiko gazes upon. This walk is no joke, being 5.5 kilometres in length and seeing an elevation gain of around 477 metres. On its own, this would be a decent entry-level hike, but considering Nadeshiko is carrying a full complement of camping gear totally between 20-30 pounds, it speaks to her incredible endurance and stamina that she’s able to make it up here and continue to sing without becoming short of breath at any point.
- In both the anime frame and the real-world equivalent, Mount Fuji can be seen behind the solar array at the intersection. From here on out, the path isn’t provided with Google Street View: Nadeshiko makes her way onto a trail to finish the climb, and it’s about 2.8 kilometres up to the campsite from here. As the mole digs, it’s only 1.8 kilometres up, but the switchbacks, intended to lessen the slope, adds distance. Drivers need to take an alternate route to get up to Nodayama Health Green Space Park, accessible north of the E1 Expressway, although with a vehicle, the elevation gain wouldn’t be noticeable at all.
- This pair of tunnels proved to be the trickiest spots to find for this Yuru Camp△ 2 location hunt: I initially thought they were located on a mountain pass on the edge of a cliff, but another frame later revealed that the tunnels were actually located at the base of the mountain. With this in mind, I decided to search for bridges alongside the Haya River, and ended up at the Yamanashi Hayakawa Hydroelectric Station. This is actually as far as Google Street View goes, but unlike the closed main tunnel Rin finds, the Street View imagery shows the tunnel is open, with the secondary tunnel being closed instead.
- Yuru Camp△ 2 presents Rin as having a very abbreviated drive from the tunnels back down to Amehata, which is thirty kilometres (forty minutes) away. Thanks to Yuru Camp△ 2 providing a hint here, I was able to pin down the last set of locations for this post, which is located on the shores of Lake Amehata. It does strike me that the locations Rin visits on her latest trip are quite out of the way, and for folks without their own scooters or cars, reproducing this trip could prove to be more challenging: as far as I can tell, there are no public transit options into this part of the mountains.
- The consequence of this is that the Amehata area is remarkably calming, a perfect visual representation of Rin’s own personality. Like Rin, I greatly enjoy visiting obscure, relatively out-of-the-way places that few would visit: last year, I drove out to a remote grain elevator and abandoned mining town in the prairies for fun, knowing that the mountains would be busy. In Yuru Camp△ 2, Rin marvels at the calm beauty that is Lake Amehata here: she’s got clear skies and turquiose lake waters, whereas in the Google Street View equivalent of the same spot, the lake’s got a mirror-like surface instead.
- The suspension bridge over the Amehata River is about 120 metres in length, and according to the satellite images, leads into a dense forest. One cannot fault Rin for wanting to turn back, since the trail does look a bit tricky. Rin’s reaction to the swaying span of the suspension bridge was an endearing one, and I’ve always found the best way to cross them without being overwhelmed by the motion is to plant one’s feet firmly before taking the next step.
- This is Villa Amehata, the onsen that Rin ends up stopping at while in Amehata, an older mountain inn with friendly staff and a cozy atmosphere, but more limited amenities. Like Naradanosato, the location means that the cost of admissions is reduced compare to facilities in more well-travelled areas: getting into the onsen at Villa Amehata is 550 Yen for adults, and the baths are open from 1100 to 2000 on weekends. This time around, Rin’s not shown enjoying her soak in the waters, which are sulfur-rich and of a neutral pH.
- Instead, Rin is shown hanging out in the common area’s massage chairs: like the real-world equivalent, Yuru Camp△ 2 faithfully portrays the busy interior of this space, bringing it to life, right down to the cat who’s fond of staring at patrons inside the room from outside. With Villa Amehata covered off, I believe I’ve checked off all of the more notable Google Street View-accessible spots for Yuru Camp△ 2‘s second third. I will be returning once the second season’s come to a close to deal with the final third’s locations, and in the meantime, I hope readers do enjoy this post, which kicks off the month of March.
The sheer variety of places that Yuru Camp△ 2‘s covered between its fourth and eighth episodes is impressive: from hot springs and tea shops, to train stations and remote mountain roads, Yuru Camp△ 2‘s given off the distinct vibes of a food and travel show – the gentle vibes and incredibly faithful portrayal of real world locations gives Yuru Camp△ 2 a feel not unlike that of Rick Steves’ Europe and Man v. Food, with a hint of Great Continental Railway Journeys and You Gotta Eat Here!. The end result is an anime that, on top of conveying an incredibly cathartic and meaningful thematic piece, also doubles as a light travel show that highlights some of the best that Yamanashi and Shizuoka have to offer. The pacing in Yuru Camp△ 2 suggest that while some truly spectacular locations can be visited if one had a vehicle, there’s still an impressive range of destinations that can be reached on foot and via public transit – the visitor without a moped or car will therefore still be able to enjoy the okonomiyaki that Nadeshiko tries, and enjoy an ice cream following a blissful soak in the onsen near Lake Yamanaka, while folks with access to a vehicle will really be able to drive right into the narrow switchbacks of the Minami Alps to check out Hayakawa. As Sakura so elegantly puts it, travel shows do often inspire people to check out local attractions, and Yuru Camp△ 2 has done a fantastic job of showing off some of the best places in the area, to the point of inspiring readers to visit for themselves. With two thirds of the Yuru Camp△ 2 in the books, I am looking forwards to one final location hunt as the series gears up for its big finish.