Camping for free at Kadohara orchards in Ono
It was a Saturday morning. The house was clean, the errands that mattered (that we remembered) were done, and it was a gorgeous sunny day outside. What were we to do!?
Somehow, Ono was the answer.
We had read about a free campsite east of Ono city (a place we had never been) called “the watering hole”. Obviously this wasn’t the campsite’s real name, so any research we were able to conduct before leaving was limited to the experiences of people who used this name. We have since discovered that it’s called Kadohara orchards (勝原園地), and that it seems like it’s pretty well–known among the local Ono residents.
Using our limited knowledge, we drove east. The anecdotal directions that we followed led us down a road (driveway?) with gravel tire treads and tall grass that scraped the bottom of our car. When we reached the Kuzuryu river we found 3 Japanese fishermen on some seriously rocky terrain. One of the fishermen crawled along the riverbed with a snorkel in his mouth and he somehow caught fish with his bare hands and put them in a little green bag. Our directions mentioned that we needed to CROSS this river and turn. There was no bridge. Mary attempted the crossing, but the rocks were too slippery. We weren’t able to find anything that looked remotely like a campsite, much less a patch of ground flat enough for a tent.
Back in Ono city we met up with our friend Heather. She showed us around her city and then she led us to the REAL campsite. She managed to do it in the dark based on year-old memories. We built a campfire together, and she helped us with our tent. As if all of this wasn’t helpful enough – she prayed with us at the campfire too.
When the sun rose we explored Kadohara orchards for the first time. We knew we were close to the Kuzuryu river, but we didn’t know we were at the foot of mountains. There were bathrooms (yay!), fire pits, a big concrete sink for dishwashing, something that looked like a stone oven (covered with a tarp – broken?) some picnic tables and a little bamboo grove. For the very reasonable price of ¥0, we will be going back.
We took some pictures of the route to the campsite in case Heather isn’t around next time. I plotted the locations of these pictures on a map. Google doesn’t recognize much past point “F” as a road.
We had a wonderful time in Ono, and we have nothing but fond memories of the city and the campground. Next time we will bring PILLOWS and I won’t drink 1/2 a litre of water before bed so that we have a chance of sleeping. Going to the bathroom in the middle of the night while camping is rather unpleasant.