One place I like to go with my family when I want to get out of the city is Maruyama Campground in the Furusato Nature Park on Mt. Shoudai in Tamana. It’s a great place for camping, barbecuing, hiking or just spending a couple hours in the forest.
It’s a nice, relaxing forest area with plenty of good spots for pitching tents, or hanging hammocks. There are decent cooking and washing spaces, and a friendly ojisan volunteer in the visitor center if you need anything. It’s also completely free, though you should call to make a booking if you want to stay overnight.
We have camped here many times and really enjoy the cool forest atmosphere under the high tree-tops. Kazu loves running around outside, and helps me find wood for the campfire. The dog seems to enjoy it too, I guess there are a lot of interesting smells he doesn’t usually find in Kumamoto.
If you’re not keen on camping, the hike to the top of the hill is pretty nice with a good view once you get there. It takes about 40 minutes to get from the carpark to the top, but can be a little steep in sections so make sure to wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water. There are some longer sections of the track that continue on to different peaks further away, but we haven’t tried them yet – maybe next time.
This year, most of us probably haven’t been able to travel as much as we would have liked. So if you want to get out of the city for a little while, try taking a drive to the hills of Tamana.