Manyo-no-Mori Park is in short, botanical garden with plants and flowers ancient Japanese about 1,300 years ago loved so much as to pick for the theme of Waka Poems in 8th century. The most interesting feature of the park is meandering stream garden just as what you may find at the Heijokyo Ruins in Nara. The best time to visit here is during Manyo Matsuri Festival during mid October, when women clad in ancient Nara period styled kimono write some poems just as people about 1,300 years ago did. I missed the festival again this year but the garden is very nice. One thing that I do not like about this park is no scientific names in latin are shown. Even a small park in Japan tags the plant with latin name which is international language for botanists. I will introduce some of the plants found in the park in my travelogue with scientific names soon.
Fudoji temple is a nice drop-by before visiting Manyo-no-Mori Park. Fancy red gate, Ryugumon, which was built recently is the entrance to the stairs to the main hall. There is odaki and medaki falls. Rock gardens around medaki fall is very eye-catching. The temple has a cute statue of Hotei(Budai) one of the seven lucky gods and nice wooden sculptures of dragons. To get to the Manyo-no-Mori Park, climb up another stairs for the building enshrining "hatengu" or winged Tengu. Hatengu is probably another name for Karasu Tengu. Then you will find an entrance to Manyo No Mori Park.
Opened in April 2007, this day-trp spa is now one of the most popular attractions in Hamakita-ku area. It also has a small souvenir shop and a restaurant.
Weekdays: 9 a.m to 9 p.m.
Saturdays, Sundays and National Holidays: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Spa Fee: 600 yen for adult 300 yen for elementary school students or under, 70 year-olds or over.
**Entering the building itself is free of charge, take off your shoes before entering the building.
How to get there?
There is a bus service available from Hamakita station of Entetsu Line or Miyaguchi station of Enshu Hamanako Line. 15 minutes walk from grassy area of Hamakita Forest Park.
Gansuiji temple, founded in 725 by Gyoki, is one of the most popular temples in Greater Hamamatsu. The temple used to possess much larger area enough to emcompass present Gansuiji station. But after having suffered a number of fires the temple premises have reduced to the area beyond the present entrance gate. (photo #1). The temple complex consists of a number of temple buildings and shrines. One of them Tamura Shrine, however, can only be accessible through the Hamakita Forest Park because the old climbing route from the temple became impassable and deserted. You can still enjoy what remains of once gigantic temple. Particularly you will enjoy the wide variety of statues including Daibutsu not higher than 2 meters from the ground. The temple has huge number of visitors in February Hoshimatsuri Festival and Cherry-viewing season.
After a few minutes walk from a twisty bridge, you will reach the Nishinotaniokuike Pond. As you can see, this pond is a reservoir pond but now thanks to the excellent park designing, the pond and creek area I just passed forms a landscape just like a stroll Japanese garden. No doubt this area is the highlight of the park.
To explore more about forest park, see my tips in Sports Travel category starting from part 11 of this series.
Now I was heading for the Nishinotaniokuike Pond, originally a reservoir pond. After passing the observation terrace, I came across a check-dam, and a semi-arc bridge and twisty bridge. When I visited the park last September these wooden bridges had become old and rickety. Now these bridges are renovated and now being repainted. Twisty bridge has already finished repainting but semi-arc bridge is still being closed for repainting. Now the pond is getting closer.
From part 7, the tips will be based on March 26 trip, the second visit to the forest park. From the triangular plaza near Birdpia Hamakita this time I will head for the grassy area of the park through the valley. The trail to the valley area is the same as last time in last September but it's late March and the the trail looks a bit different from last time. As I climbed down the trail, I encountered the folk, last time I took wooden-plate path on the right. This time I try the left trail and see what I find next.
As you walk along the trail passing through marshy area you will see the wooden bridge seeming a bit twisted. Now the bridge is closed because of repainting. And you will see the small check-dam probably for preventing bedsoil of the water garden from being washed away by heavy rainfall. A liitle more walk leads to the pond and nearby the pond there is a kiddie park with wooden playsets. I went this park in September 2010 and when I reached the pond it's already past 4 p.m. so I had to return to Birdpia Hamakita from there. The grassy park area is a still a way to go. So I will cover the area in my coming trip to the park.
Pond area of the park is one of the most popular areas of the park which leads to huge grassy area with day-camp facility. Let's start the walk down to the pond area from the plaza. From the plaza you have to find the entrance to the trail runnng left side of the Birdpia Hamakita. The trail go down a lot until you reach the marshy area with wooden plate trail.
A couple of more minutes walk and you will get to the pond.
When you find the sign go uphill to get to the Mori No Ie(photo #1), multi-purpose facility with a restraurant. You can tour around the place about one hour but if you would like to get to the pond area of the park go back to the plaza where you started walking. To get back don't miss the smaller signboard(photo #2) for suspension bridge. After returning to the plaza, let's get down to the pond area.
When you meet the road go straight to go along another stretch of mountain trail(photo #1) after a few minutes you will find the wide road. To get to the bridge go left.(photo #2) Then you will see the suspension bridge. (photo #3) The view from the suspension bridge is really great(photo #4). After crossing the bridge there are two ways. Narrower trail go directly to Mori No Ie. The wider road will take about five minutes. When you go along the wider road don't miss the signboard to the Mori No Ie.(photo #5)
Starting from Birdpia Hamakita, first go down the parking space and you will find a plaza(photo#1) which serves as a hub to various destinations. To get to the Suspension Bridge, there are a number of ways. I recommend the trail though Bokenno Mori(photo #2, #3 and #4). To get to bokennomori area turn leftward and go along with wooden playsets. After getting along the trail find the signboard to "Tsuribashi" (Suspension Bridge) (photo #5)and follow the sign. You will soon meet the wide road.
Hamakita Forest Park is really huge. For the first visitor of this park I recommend the trail between Birdpia Hamakita and Mori No Ie. It takes about one and a half hours just get there and back. The best thing about this trail is you can enjoy the huge suspension bridge on the way. This bridge is one of the most popular places in the park. There are a number of ways to get to "Suspension Bridge" or "Tsuribashi" but not difficult to get there. First you need to get a picture map at Birdpia Hamakita it cost just ten yen. Now let's get started.
Birdpia Hamakita is a sort of visitor center for the park visitors. It gives the basic information of the flora and fauna of this park area and has a observation space for birdwatchers. You can get a picture map of the Forest Park for 10 yen.
To describe this park in one word: It's really huge. I walked this park about three hours and can't get everywhere in the park. So huge that you can easily get lost. You may never go back to the place where you started. It has the area of 215 ha just a bit smaller than London's Hyde Park(241ha) and two third of Central Park New York. To really enjoy this park, you need to focus on what you do. To start the walk first get a map at Birdpia Hamakita, headquarter facility of the park.