Family Time in Nakai
Located in the western hills of Kanagawa, Nakai is a small town popular for its nature-blessed parks and fresh local produce—making it an excellent playground for families craving some fresh air. Here, you can enjoy a charming landscape of mountains, farmland, and urban life, and even catch views of Mount Fuji on clear days! Due to limited public transportation, we recommend car travel for easy access.
Follow me on a journey through this quaint town. Your next family adventure awaits!
Itsukushima Shissei Park
I started my trip at Itsukushima Shissei Park. This wetland park was established to restore and preserve the natural environment of the area and is characterized by its wooden walkways. The facility has two parking lots on its northeastern and southwestern sides, making it extremely accessible by car. Upon entering, I was first drawn to the red torii (gate) at the end of the central path and was struck by the mystical ambience. The tree-populated island encircled by clear water seemed straight out of a Studio Ghibli movie.
After visiting the central island’s small shrine, I continued along the elevated paths and spotted numerous ducks drifting on the rippling water. With forest-clad hills as a backdrop and a beautifully composed scene of crystal water, lush grass, and orange-tinged trees, I felt refreshed and relaxed. The park also has seating areas, making it a great place to enjoy a picnic with your family!
Nakai Central Park
After a relaxing start at Itsukushima Shissei Park, I drove about five minutes to Nakai Central Park, or Nakai Chuo Park. This bustling park features wide grassy fields, a golf course, a playground, a cafe, Mount Fuji viewing spots, and more! My first stop at the facility was Nakai Central Park Observation Square, located a short five-minute walk up a hill near the parking lot. From this vantage point, I was gifted with a cute view of Mount Fuji through the observation’s heart monument and an expansive panorama of the park and the naturescape beyond. Along the walking route to the observation area, there was a small playground with a slide that weaved down the hillside.
After making the uphill trek, I decided to stop by Nakai Satomachi Cafe for a quick sweets recharge. The shop’s wooden interior, tall ceilings, plant decor, and abundance of windows created an airy and welcoming atmosphere. I ordered iced tea and paired it with a locally-made apple pastry. If you want a more hearty meal, the restaurant also sells savory dishes, such as ramen and curry, as well as desserts, including ice cream and pudding. For drinks, the cafe offers coffee, tea, soda, juice, draft beer, and even free water. After my two park adventures, the cafe served as an excellent place to rest.
Nakai Chuo Park
Nakai Inter Circuit
Next, I changed the trip’s pace from leisurely to fast and drove about six minutes to Nakai Inter Circuit—a car racing track geared towards children. Although the circuit mainly targets children aged five to 10, adults are also allowed to use the course, meaning the whole family can enjoy the energetic sports. The facility offers go-kart and pokebai (a small motorcycle) options, as well as full-sized bikes for adults. The instructors are informative and easy to follow, making it safe for first-time riders of any age. Here, visitors can choose from timed courses starting at five minutes and also rent gloves and helmets for riding. When you visit, be sure to wear long sleeves, long pants, and athletic shoes.
For my trip, I simply opted for a five-lap go-kart experience, and after the instructor explained the safety protocols and driving techniques, I was ready to go. As I navigated the course, I felt a smile break out on my face as I tapped into my inner child. The experience was fun and truly exhilarating!
NAKAI INTER CERCUIT
Following go-karting, I hopped back into my real car and drove about six minutes to my last destination—Shinsei Lake, Shinsei-ko in Japanese. Formed fairly recently in 1923 due to the Great Kanto earthquake, Shinsei Lake now serves as a pleasant natural retreat popular for its hiking paths, fishing spots, wildlife, Shinto shrine, and beautiful seasonal foliage, including cherry blossoms and autumn leaves.
The lake’s parking lot, which also conveniently houses public bathrooms and a vending machine, is located directly next to the start of one the dirt trails. After the previous high-energy activity, I was happy to spend some time strolling among the trees. The nature path looped around the circumference of the lake and featured multiple seating areas where I could relax with views of the foliage-lined water. Along the lake’s eastern shore, I visited the Shinto shrine and admired the structure’s vermillion brilliance against the greenery. As I continued my walk, I passed numerous fishermen enjoying the sunny day. The lake’s beautiful and quiet atmosphere served as a wonderful way to end my nature-filled day.