Hello, this is _hiroyuki.ta.
This time we will be reporting on a touring trip to Dodaira Observatory in Tokigawa Town, Saitama Prefecture.
Dodaira Astronomical Observatory is a facility that has supported Japanese astronomy since 1960, and is currently a popular place for staying overnight and stargazing.
I drove about two and a half hours from central Tokyo on my favorite Harley-Davidson FLSB Sport Glide. Along the way, we drove along the Kanetsu Expressway and the Oku-Musashi Green Line, enjoying the mountains and rural scenery.
At Dodaira Observatory, you can view the sky with a 91cm reflecting telescope and sightseeing telescope, and there are also activities such as blueberry picking and camping. This time I will introduce the situation along with photos.
Route to Dodaira Observatory
I started from central Tokyo and entered the Kanetsu Expressway via the Shuto Expressway Inner Loop Line and Shuto Expressway No. 5 Ikebukuro Line.
On the Kanetsu Expressway, I got off at Sakado Nishi Smart IC and took Prefectural Route 172 towards the Dodaira Observatory.
There are scenic spots along the way, such as Shiraishi Pass and Kengamine Observation Deck, but the roads are narrow and there are many places where it is difficult to pass each other, so be careful. In addition, there is a risk of snow and ice in the winter, so if you are driving a car, you will need to take measures such as winter tires and chains. It may be difficult for motorbikes to pass during the winter.
Highlights of Dodaira Observatory
When you arrive at Dodaira Observatory, what catches your eye is a huge dome.
This is an observation dome that houses a 91cm reflecting telescope, and you can use this telescope to view the starry sky during viewing parties held twice a month. I also participated, and was impressed by the clear visibility of the moon, planets, nebulas, and star clusters. The viewing party must be reserved in advance and requires a fee, but hotel guests can participate for free.
A sightseeing telescope (coin-operated) is installed next to the observation dome.
This telescope can be used even during the day, and if the conditions are good, you can see all the way to the ocean. I tried it too, but unfortunately I couldn’t see the ocean. However, it was fun to be able to see the mountains and cityscapes.
Dodaira Observatory also offers other activities such as blueberry picking experience and camping.
The blueberry picking experience is held from mid-July to mid-August, and you can eat the blueberries you pick on the spot or take them home.
I tried it too, and the sweet and sour blueberries were very delicious. There are log houses and tent sites for camping, so you can spend a relaxing time in nature. I stayed in a log house and it was clean and comfortable. At night, we enjoyed a barbecue while looking at the starry sky.
Dodaira Observatory motorcycle parking lot
There is a motorcycle parking lot at Dodaira Observatory, but the number is small.
I parked in the Observation Dome parking lot, but if there is no space, you can also park in the campground parking lot downstairs.
However, please be careful as there are slopes and gravel roads. Also, the gate is locked at night, so only guests staying at the hotel cannot enter or exit.
Dodaira Observatory is a place where you can feel the history of astronomy and the charm of nature.
If you go by bike, you will need to be careful about the road and weather conditions, but you will be able to enjoy the scenery and the fresh air.
I experienced stargazing and blueberry picking at Dodaira Astronomical Observatory, and I was very satisfied.
Dodaira Observatory’s special products include blueberry jam and Norabou greens. I also bought some blueberry jam and it was delicious and not too sweet. I think Dodaira Observatory is a hidden spot in Saitama Prefecture. Please come and visit us at least once.