‘Diamond in a concrete jungle’: Military rec area in Tokyo unveils upgrades, including new cottage
Stars and Stripes April 26, 2023
TAMA HILLS RECREATION AREA, Japan — A new guest cottage, event center and revamped clubhouse were unveiled recently at this recreation area for military personnel in western Tokyo.
The combined projects took nearly a year of construction and cost $2.2 million, Col. Julie Gaulin, vice commander of 374th Airlift Wing at Yokota Air Base, told Stars and Stripes at Tama Hills on Friday.
The clubhouse renovation updated basic infrastructure and brightened up the interior.
“A lot of the infrastructure involved wastewater,” said Patrick Bowman, general manager of the Tama Hills Golf Course. “We had roof leaks, we had plumbing leaks, and then we had air conditioning leaks, so they came in and ripped out all the insides of the building.”
The clubhouse plumbing was entirely replaced and because the building had been gutted, new bathrooms, floors, ceilings and carpeting soon followed.
“It feels pretty amazing to have the renovations done,” Bowman said. “Tama Hills is a diamond in a concrete jungle.
Several golfers attended the clubhouse grand reopening. Preston Lofton, a retired Air Force first sergeant, has been golfing at Tama Hills since 1987.
“Me and my wife, we travel around the Pacific and around the world,” he said after Friday’s unveiling. “I’ve been to many golf courses that are supposed to be nice, but they’re not nicer than Tama. Tama is a treasure, and the people that come here all the time know that.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremonies moved next to a new cottage in the forested side of Tama Hills. The cottage, called Sakura 1, is the first of four planned for the recreation area. The two-story cottage has two bedrooms, a living room on each floor, kitchen, balcony, and a small fire pit outside. It also has three televisions, Wi-Fi and plans for Xbox and PlayStation consoles.
“There’s going to be four there, but we have to do them in stages, and the first stage was the hardest and took so long because we had to lay the groundwork for all four cottages,” said George Degrella, the recreation area’s general manager.
Tama Hills plans to open one cottage a year until all four are operational, he said. After the cottages are open, plans call for a new onsen for cottage occupants to use during their stay.
Finally, the Tama Hills staff rounded out the ceremonies by opening the Apex Event Center, a conference and catering facility in the center of the recreation area. It may also be rented out for summer camps and other activities.