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TAMA HILLS, Japan — New log cabins are to be unveiled at the Tama Hills recreation area this fall.

There’ll be nine of them instead of the previous 10, and the single cabins — which used to rent for $48 — are to be replaced by larger “deluxe” models at $58 per night.

But with outdoor grills, inside cooking areas, full showers and new furniture, they should be lots nicer in almost every way, said Tony Cala, Tama Hills general manager.

Tama Hills launched its cabin improvement project in November 2002 to replace aging, prefabricated cabins built in 1982. “Twenty years for prefab is kind of old, so it was time to switch out,” Cala said. “They were costing us more to maintain.”

The first cabins should start to go up in September. The project is to end in November, but some cabins should be available for rent starting in October, Cala said. Tama Hills also has a lodge, which has been booked solid this summer, though overall sales are down since Tama can’t accommodate as many guests during the project, he said.

Preston Lofton, a civilian employee at Yokota Air Base west of Tokyo, is counting the days until he can book a cabin again. “I can’t wait,” he said “It’s just not the same without the cabins.”

But, he added, the project “was long overdue;” the new cabins “were needed.”

Anyone who’s stayed in one of the old buildings can attest to their cramped space, creaky floors, tiny showers and lodge-style interior. The new cabins will be almost double in size and will look more rustic, with wood floors and log-house exterior. The cabins were purchased from Conestoga Log Cabins in Lebanon, Pa., which mailed the heavy, rectangular logs from the States in kits to be assembled by local Japanese contractors, Cala said.

Most of the $500,000 cost comes from non-appropriated funds, Cala said, except for the asbestos removal, which was paid for by Yokota Air Base’s 374th Services Division.

The new cabins will be on stilts. Seven of them will be “deluxe” size, 27 feet by 14 feet. Instead of one room with a queen size bed, they’ll feature a bedroom, living room with a sleeper sofa and a loft with a sleeping area.

“You can have a family of four or five come in,” Cala said. The new cabins also will have a kitchenette with two burners and a sink. The cedar cottage furniture will be new. Each cabin will have an area rug, bathroom with full-size shower and a porch with overhang and barbecue grill outside.

The two “distinguished visitor” cabins will replace the commander’s and chief’s cabins. About 600 square feet in size (20 by 36 feet), these cabins will have two bedrooms and an outdoor Jacuzzi.

“Eventually, we’d like to end up with a small Jacuzzi behind each cabin,” Cala said.

Though the $48 single-cabin rate will be eliminated; the deluxe cabins will cost $58 a night, the same as the previous double-cabin rate, Cala said. The chief’s and commander’s cabins still will cost $78 a night. The Red Horse lodge, a four-bedroom cabin built in 1936 — but since renovated — still costs $185 per night. That building will be renovated again after the cabins are built, Cala said.

Though Tama Hills is open to all Department of Defense military members, civilians and families in the Kanto Plain, Yokota residents have first priority when reserving cabins, Cala said, since Yokota operates Tama and provides its funding.

Rules and rates

Planning a stay at Tama Hills?

Here’s what you need to know to reserve accommodations:

Ninety days advance reservations are available for Yokota Air Base residents; 60 days in advance for all other authorized guests.

Chief’s cabins may be reserved up to 90 days in advance to all active duty E-9s stationed at Yokota; up to 60 days in advance for all first sergeants from Yokota; up to 30 days in advance for all others.

Commander’s cabin may be reserved up to 90 days in advance by all commanders or directors, active-duty officers with a rank of O-6 and above and civilians with a grade of GS-15 and above, stationed at Yokota. All others may reserve up to seven days in advance.

— Stars and Stripes

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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