Come enjoy the outdoors by camping at Yasaka Dam! It is close by Iwakuni, easy to do and a great activity for the whole family!
In the past ten years, Matt and I have tried to camp several times…and usually ended up packing up and going home early. So to try and go camping with two toddlers, I thought we must be gluttons for punishment!
But it’s been awesome! We have gone camping twice now at Yasaka Dam just outside of Iwakuni, Japan and we have loved it!
Both times had some challenges, but were fun.
The first time, we met some of our neighboring Japanese campers and shared our s’mores with them – they were so grateful! We didn’t communicate much verbally, but there was a strong feeling of camaraderie. It was a nice feeling! We left pretty early in the morning and they ran from their tent to say their “arigato gozaimasu” and bow as we left, in true Japanese fashion!
At night, our friends worked the grill and we spent some time building a fire with a magnesium rod and striker steel. It came together nicely, and we enjoyed a pleasant chat around the bonfire.
When we went to bed that night we were a little cold. Ok, so Matt froze until 3 AM, when he took over my blanket, and then I froze after…but that was our own fault for not bringing enough blankets. The kids had plenty of blankets and they slept great! We fell asleep listening to the sound of the river and woke up to the birds chirping! It was our first successful campout!
A few weeks later we went back. We weren’t the only Americans there. All I’m going to say is that any Japanese that were there, left. The noisy neighbors played their music until at least 3 a.m. and only got louder when we asked them to quiet down at 12:30.
But even with obnoxious neighbors we had a great experience. We went with some special friends who are getting ready to move. Once it got dark, we gave the kids flashlights and took them monster hunting! It took the kids a bit to fall asleep, but we were grateful they were able to sleep through the ruckus!
In the morning the firepit wasn’t very usable – it seemed that someone’s shoes had ended up in the fire – so we built a fire on the beach, skipped stones and enjoyed each other’s company. We had a very pleasant morning!
Location and Setting
Yasaka Dam is only about 35 minutes from Iwakuni and it’s a beautiful drive following the reservoir and rivers. It has a few dozen campsites, each with a picnic table. There is a large open field in the middle of all the campsites. On one end of the park, there is a large concrete circle with a nice firepit inside of it. There are lots of trees surrounding the perimeter, and trees line the road and downed timber provide small sticks and logs for firewood.
There are two different campsites one on either side of the river. We have only ever been offered the one that’s not across the river. If you walk over to the other campsite there is a small store where you can get some camping supplies, like wood and snacks. There is also the entrance to a 2.7 km walk along a paved path. It was closed off from a landslide when we tried to go, but it’s supposed to offer a great view as it follows the boulder-filled river!
There is a stream running through with some large boulders. A lot of kids were enjoying playing there. The water isn’t too deep – maybe a foot or two at most. I was initially worried, thinking that the kids would be drawn to it, but we never had a problem. It’s definitely something that you would want to be careful with if your kids slip off on their own! On the backside of the campground is the river leading to the Yasaka dam. There is a nice little beach there and the kids loved throwing rocks into the water. There were some people there with paddle boards and even a large inflatable raft.
About 10 minutes away there is a place that you can rent some paddle boats or a canoe and go to enjoy the lake! The price was 1020 Yen, and they recommend having a 1:1 adult-to-child ratio. Check out the map to see the location!
There is a bathroom with toilets and a sink to wash your hands! No soap, but I’ve seen people bring their own soap and leave it in the bathroom while they are there. There is also a covered kitchen area with grills that you can bring some charcoal and use to cook your food (you pay ¥500 extra to use their facilities). Near here there are also sinks to wash and rinse things. They thoughtfully have wheelbarrows you can use to get your things from the car to the campsite!
You can make a reservation onsite. They don’t speak English so you will need to be able to translate. Or, if you go into ITT, just let them know you want to go camping at Yasaka Dam; they will use your phone to call the campground so you can reserve your campsite. You can buy camping gear or rent it from Outdoor Rec for free! They have everything you need from sleeping bags and sleeping pads to tents, coolers and even fishing poles! One night of renting the campsite is about 1500 yen, including parking. There is a little office in the parking lot that has someone there for from 0900-1700. You pay them and they point out where your site is. That’s it!
Leave a comment below if you have any stories about obnoxious neighbors you’ve had while camping!
Don’t forget to check out what else the area has to offer on the map! There are hiking trails, paddle boats, bridges to cross, parks for kids, and more – they even have race track for remote control cars!