It was obvious that we were much higher up in the mountains since the sakura are falling from the trees in Fukuyama and the buds hadn't even opened in Sera Park. There was a large and very creative playground area for the children to play in and quite a few acres of hilly green space.
This is a view of the playground area where the kids spent most of the morning exploring and playing:
Surrounding the playground was open recreational space. You can see that all of the cherry trees are still naked.
William making new friends and checking out all of the fun playthings
There were even three miniature ponies. You could pay 30 yen (37 cents Canadian) to feed them a dish of carrots or 100 yen (about 1.25$ Canadian) to go for a ride. I don't know much about the nutritional needs of ponies, but it seems like a steady stream of children feeding them carrots all day is a bad idea. They seemed happy enough though.
Theo spent a lot of time riding the spinning saucer. I would have loved it as a kid, but now it made me queasy just watching.
After an hour or so of playing, we all stopped to enjoy a delicious picnic that our friends made for us. There was onigiri, barbecued beef, vegetables, sausages, pickled radishes, spaghetti, potato salad and omelet rolls. It was so, so good!
On our walk we came across a man flying a super long and colourful kite.
The surrounding mountains were extremely beautiful, especially since there was not a sign of human habitation for as far as the eye could see.
At the top of a nearby hill, we found another, smaller playground. Theo clambered around pretending to be the Spider King and that ladybugs where invading his spider castle. I don't think he will ever be bored.
We also found a super long slide.
Eventually William woke up and we decided to head home, stopping by the Sera Winery on our way. I assumed there would just be tours of the vineyard and wine tasting, but it seems they have really put a lot of efforts into attracting tourists. There was live music, a farmers market, a miniature steam train that the children could ride, all manner of desserts flavoured like wine for sale, and of course, many different wines to try and buy. To top it all off, we arrived just in time for a mochi throwing event.
In the end it was four happy adults and two very tired and content children that piled into the car for the trip back to Fukuyama. What a fabulous way to spend a Saturday. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Oshima!