In the end of April, we went with some friends of ours to a German village themed park in Okayama Prefecture. It is called Doitsu no Mori, or the German Forest. It was a beautifully warm spring day and the little "village" was so picturesque. It is in a very rural part of the prefecture surrounded on all sides by rolling green mountains. It took us about an hour and a half to drive there from Fukuyama. When approaching the front gate, you already feel like you have stepped into another country. Except for the katakana on all the signs, that is.
One thing I love about Japan is that I very often find plaques on trees and other plants indicating what species they are. Since I am always trying to learn what species grow commonly in our area, it is nice to see these signs. Have I ever mentioned how much joy I get from binomial nomenclature?
The village square, surrounded by restaurants, bakeries, and shops.
There was a lot of open space for the children to run around and burn off some energy.
There was also an astroturf toboggan hill that was fun for both the kids and us.
Next we headed over to the petting zoo where there were goats, sheep, rabbits, pot bellied pigs and miniature horses. William was not too sure about the goats and spent the first five minutes watching them from a safe distance, tense and silently terrified.
He kept this guarded expression throughout almost our whole visit to the petting zoo area.
Meanwhile, Theo could have spent all day there taking care of "his" bunnies.
We found a field of blooming canola which was a very familiar sight to us Manitobans. It turns out that they think of canola as a quintessential spring flower. I have never seen it blooming in Manitoba before July!
There were a few restaurant options for lunch, but since the German and European style restaurants were packed full of people, we decided to have Japanese style barbecue instead.
Then off to let the kids enjoy a few more things, like bumper cars,
driving a bus,
taking a ride around the park on a little train,
and jumping around in a bouncy castle.
Finally, after the children were good and tired, we were able to enjoy some more adult sights. There were dozens of beautiful flower beds fully blooming with spring flowers.
A fun day was had by all. I would really recommend this park to anyone with children, but I might have found it very dull if I had gone only with adults. There is a bit of shopping and the flowers are pretty, but most of the attractions are for the 12 and under crowd.