The Japanese have something of a love/hate relationship with the summer months. As soon as the mercury climbs above 25 degrees, women break out the parasols, curtains are pulled tight to keep out sunlight, and everyone’s vocabulary is limited to a single word: atsui (hot!). But that is not to say that the summer is entirely shunned. For it is now that, in spite of the rising humidity and the occasional rainstorm, the Japanese like to get out and commune outdoors. One excellent way of doing this is barbecues with friends and families. Below are a few choice spots for doing just that in and around Nagoya.
To the north of the city, Shonai Ryokuchi Koen is one of Nagoya’s biggest and best equipped parks, with two main barbecuing areas around the boat pond. For use of the pits and equipment in barbecue Zone A (see above) a reservation is required, and can be made by calling 0570-09-0014 between 9:30 and 17:00, or on their website here. The BBQ area in Zone B is on a first come, first served basis and reservations cannot be made.
In both areas you can bring your own equipment, but if you happen not to have what you need, you can rent the whole set, including cooking utensils and even tables and chairs at a fee of 1,000 JPY per person for adults or 500 JPY for children of elementary school age.
Quite apt for being in Midori (green) Ward, Odaka Ryokuchi Koen – often called Odaka Greens – is 120 hectares of beautiful park and was designated as one of the 100 best urban parks in Japan. One of its great facilities includes ‘day camp’ areas in which from March to September between 10:00 and 17:00, or October and February from 10:00 to 16:00, you can set up a barbecue site.
There are three sites available. The sand sites that come without a BBQ are free to use without reservation. Then there are the twelve open air BBQ sites that come with an oven, and eight covered spots also with ovens. For these latter two reservations are required and there is a fee of 500 and 750 JPY respectively.
The area around which you find Tempaku Koen is best known for the Yamazaki River, perhaps Nagoya’s most beautiful cherry blossom sites in spring. But in Summer, the nearby park is a lovely place to hang out and enjoy a barbecue.
There are 20 ovens within the park, and like at Shonai Ryokuchi these are split between two zones. In Zone A you can find 12 ovens that are free to use, and are taken on a first come, first served basis. If you don’t want to take the chance of the pits being all occupied, there are eight areas in Zone B that can be reserved at a cost of 800 JPY for a half day or 1600 JPY for the full day. To do so, call the park on 052-803-6644.
50 minutes from Nagoya, nestled amongst mountains and waterfalls is the Inuyama Campground, an excellent BBQ spot for all of the family, and one that you need to bring absolutely nothing (but your wallet) should you so require.
From teepees to utensils, from barbecues to even the food, everything can be either bought or rented at Inuyama Campground. On top of that there are loads of events that are specifically catered for kids, such as tree climbing and open air pizza baking. And for adults wanting to wash the smell of meat out of their hair there is even a wood-fired ‘onsen’ bath!
Just a 10 minute stroll from Shinmaiko Station on the Meitetsu Line, Shinmaiko Blue Sun Beach is the nearest half-decent stretch of sand to Nagoya, making it a great place to barbecue and test out that old wives tale about swimming after eating.
With a four person table coming in at 5,000 JPY (this includes a 3kg bag of charcoal) between 9:00 and 15:00, the barbecue rental is a bit on the pricey side, particularly when you must bring all of your own utensils and food. However, what it lacks on cow cost it more than makes up for in convenience as there are toilets, showers and a store selling draft beer a mere stone’s throw away. Oh, and of course there is the beach too. These tables tend to go pretty quickly, so an advance reservation is definitely recommended.
By Mark Guthrie
Photo: by http://shonai-ryokuchi.jp/bbqarea/en/
Photo: by Mark Guthrie (Own Work)