Iwayado within the boundaries of Seto City, but far away from the train stations and apartment buildings that one expects from a city, is a little haven. It’s a river, next to a free swimming pool, near a place where you can have a BBQ, near a little shop where you can buy cold lemonade, cold beer and yummy things to eat. In short, it’s where your kids will want to spend every Saturday in the summer.
Coming into Autumn, Iwayado is also famous for the vibrant colour of its leaves. The river running through it and the numerous little waterfalls along the way really cool the whole area down – in summer it feels almost airconditioned to be sitting in the shade on the bank, watching your kids as they splash, run, jump and laugh.
It’s terribly difficult to find Iwayado, but here it is on Google Maps, on the highway it is near Seto Akazu Interchange on the Tokai Kanjo Expressway. You should plan to drive as it’s not near any train stations, and when you get there you’ll notice that you can park either side of the river. If you park on the south bank of the river you won’t pay for parking, the north bank is closer to where you walk to and so you pay 500 yen per time. Get there early to avoid disappointment, because there are days when you simply can’t park at all and are forced to find alternative parking arrangements far away.
If you want to make a day out of it, then make an appointment in the morning to have a pottery lesson in nearby Azazu.Kasen Studio is run by 14th generation pottery master Hiroshige Kato, he speaks English and it’s quite possible to do a pottery lesson and a trip to Iwayado park in one day. The lesson costs 2500 yen for adults (1500 yen for children) and then each piece of pottery you decide to fire costs 500 yen (depending on size, but first time potters rarely make anything bigger on their first attempt). If you’re trying to get to his studio and you have a car navigation, the phone number is 0561-82-3255 – use this, as it’s hard to navigate the tiny little streets of Akazu the first time.