This summer, a friend invited us to go camping. He took us to a place which we had never heard but was less than an hour from our house in Ishiyama. This camp-site was in the mountains, deep in the forest, in the bend of a crystal clear river. We drove up the west side of Lake Biwa before turning inland and driving into the mountains which create the natural border between Shiga prefecture and Kyoto prefecture. After about 45 minutes we arrived at Katsuragawa, the north-westernmost area of Otsu city. We crossed the Katsura river and suddenly we were in the most tranquil and serene forest, in Kyoto city. I couldn’t believe that such a quiet and peaceful and rural place was actually in Kyoto city, albeit in the far north-east corner.
We enjoyed camping, having a cook-out over an open fire, swimming in the river (which was so clear that I even drank directly from it) and counting the stars. This was a truly magical place. It was mid-summer and extremely hot and humid but in the mountains, under the trees, with cool river water rushing by, the temperature was actually very comfortable. The camp-site, though rustic, had everything we needed: toilets, food prep areas, washing stations, fire pits and a small log-cabin office which sold and rented all of the camping basics. The staff were super friendly and helpful too. What a wonderful place, less than an hour from downtown Otsu or Kyoto station. Who wants to join us next summer?
Edward, Smith’s School of English Otsu