I mentioned before that my Japan itinerary was “less-than-conventional,” and today’s post is about an attraction most non-Japanese tourists will never hear of: Mother Bokujo!
The only reason we went was because our State Department friends (with whom we stayed our first couple days in Japan) were taking their child and invited us to come along. From their descriptions, I thought it would be a little farm with an animal petting area for kids. It turned out to be a lot more. And a lot bigger.
Mother Bokujo (which translates to Mother Farms) is more like a theme park modeled after a county fair. They do produce their own dairy products (ice cream, cheese, milk) which they offer to visitors and have sheepdog and other animal demonstrations. But they also have a Ferris wheel, human-sized hamster balls for kids to run around in, and a dog-shaped bus that woofs as it goes by.
The idea behind Mother Bokujo is to give city kids a taste of country life. Tokyo being the highly urbanized, technologically advanced place it is, its inhabitants don’t experience much nature in their day-to-day lives (something folks in other major urban centers can relate to). So Mother Bokujo offers a chance to return and connect with rural life in the beautiful Chiba countryside.
And people come. We visited on a rainy Sunday, but despite the inclement weather, the place was packed with families. And Mother Bokujo definitely caters to kids with children’ programming, stroller parking lots, and a comfortable “family room” where mothers can nurse and do diaper changes.
It wasn’t the sort of place I expected to find, but Mother Bokujo is not unique in Japan. On our way through Gunma Prefecture, we saw a sign for Ikaho Green Bokujo, and though we didn’t drop by, I think I have a pretty good idea of what it’s like.