Nogami station (野上駅) is a small stop on the Chichibu Railway Main Line (秩父本線). There are few trains passing here, and it’s a quiet place of birdsong and rice fields.
In the distance lie the mountains of Chichibu, Gunma and beyond.
There’s not much of any note in Nogami really, bar a fairly sizeable Mont Bell store with a campsite next door to it.
Mont Bell, by the way for those who don’t know is a famous, faux French Japanese brand of outdoor gear. It’s an outdoorsy sort of place, Nogami.
It also has a cool Steam Locomotive passing through it.
It’s a beautiful section, with chunky rocks for jumping, access to a pebble beach and some nice spots for picnics.
The riverbank you will arrive at is perfect for a picnic and a swim. You can jump in from some rocks and cool down in the clean, green waters. If you swim across there’s another chunk of rock, again with jumping opportunities and a nice little beach of pebblestones.
In the summertime these stones get extremely hot underfoot. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. There are also scorched remains of campfires which suggest you could pitch your tent behind the rock and escape the campsite entirely, but you might get some trouble from the neighbouring campsite if you are too open about it. Best be discreet.
The current is very strong, and there is a sign warning you not to swim, though quite how, when and if this is enforced we don’t know. Another downside is the highly regular boat cruises.
They’re typically manned (we haven’t seen any women working on the boats) by two people punting/steering at the front and back of the boat, with about 10 passengers in between.
It’s fun hiding from them, but becomes tiring after a while.
They will take great pleasure in making a point of informing their passengers of the perils of swimming here. That 5 people a year die in this location every year doing so, etc.
They are right that this isn’t a spot for weak swimmers, but we wonder if they aren’t ever so slightly exaggerating; after all, that would mean 50 people in ten years, and surely a barbed wire fence rather than a “dame !” (Forbidden) .
There are often other people swimming too, so it’s not unheard of. Just stay safe, and don’t get cheeky with the boatmen. They run this town!
Where is Nogami?Nogami is in Chichibu (秩父市), northern Saitama.
It’s remote, far from the blander commuter belt that characterises much of Saitama’s south, and 50 km from the main tourist town, historical Kawagoe - in fact, the border with Gunma prefecture is much nearer, and as the crow flies Nagano is not so far.
Saitama is landlocked so summers can get very hot and the winters cold.
How do I get to Nogami?
Getting to Nogami Station from Tokyo by rail is not only a joy, but also very reasonably priced (our route costs 1870 JPY one way). It’s just a little over 2 hours from JR Shinjuku Station.
Take the JR Shonan Shinjuku Line north and after just over an hour, change at Kumagaya (熊谷市) to the Chichibu Tetsudo Line (AKA Chichibu Main Line, or 秩父鉄道), it takes about around 45 minutes to Nogami.
Alight at Nogami Station and just walk east towards the river and turn right when you hit the biggish road (towards Nagatoro, 長瀞), you’ll pass the Mont Bell store on your right and you’re almost there, cut left through the bungalows and walk 100 metres or so to get to our swim spot.
* JR Shonan Shinjuku Line has some sets of 4 seats facing each other like a proper posh long distance train. These are usually located in the carriages to the front and the back. They go like hot cakes so try and line up for those at Shinjuku’s platform.
* The Chichibu Main Line is great, with a charm that will transport you back to Japan’s Showa era, but watch out! The Chichibu trains don’t take PASMO/SUICA cards and tickets must be purchased beforehand from the machines in the station, and given to the attendant. It’s pretty easy to do and the staff seem more than happy to help with any issues with the transaction. The trains are also a little infrequent, with a single track only so do plan ahead.
Nogami town has a large Fuji Mart supermarket, not far (about half a kilometre) from the station. You’ll be able to stock up on most things here and it’s open till 2200.
The campsite at Nogami is called Forest Sons Nagatoro, and has spaces for tents, in gorgeous woodlands. They also have bungalows for rent, some of which are almost overlooking the water. Their prices seem competitive enough and they also provide BBQ facilities. The campsite is right next to the Mont Bell shop, should you need any outdoor supplies.
There is a vending machine with beer, on the same side of the road as the bungalows and the river!
Nogami may not have much in the way of amenities, but it does have a skateboard store, with the racy name Unchainz.
If you get tired of Nogami and fancy a change of scenery, it’s a pleasant walk upstream to Nagatoro town. Here, there’s a shopping street, a lot of foods to choose from, more river to swim in, and even the access to those boat cruises if you’re suddenly in the mood for staying dry. Check out our page on Nagatoro here.