I experienced a bit of Germany last winter holiday.
But no. I didn't travel thousands of miles west to do that.
I didn’t have to go to the real Germany to experience what I’d expected of the country that calls itself Deutschland.
It just took around 2-3 hours north of Tokyo where the underrated Gunma Prefecture is located. Akagi Kronenberg German Town (赤城クローネンベルクドイツ村) is a park situated 1-hour drive away from the city center of Maebashi in Gunma prefecture.
Photo : Main entranceThe main entrance is not as fancy I had expected. But I might have to say going here expecting fancy things is just not the way to go. The whole concept of the park is to virtually show the suburban side of Germany where blending in with nature and living together with horses and sheep is essential, plus of course drinking beer and eating juicy wieners that is.
Photo : Clock towerSince I went there in the winter time when not so many people come to visit the park, it was free to enter!
Upon entering the park, I was welcomed with a German-styled clock tower. I had to go literally through the clock tower to get in. Interesting. Already, I felt full of Dutch atmosphere around me, minus the cold and the snow that is.
Photo : Under the clock tower
Photo : City hallLeft of the ‘city hall’ upon entering the park, there’s a big sheep ranch. I can almost sense the happiness of those sheep having the privilege to run and chill in such a ranch. Not far from there though, a sheep welcomed me as it being exhibited, although tied to a tree. I, too, took no regret in getting close to the cute 羊（ひつじ）and took its picture.
It was hard to leave my new best friend behind. But I had to continue my journey.
Just meters away from the welcoming sheep, there was a German-styled café namely Backerei Café Blumen. It serves many kinds of German sausages and honey beer.
Photo : BackereiAs the park was huge, there was an exciting German-styled ‘train’. They call it チューチュートレイン （Chuu-Chuu Train. The ride around the park is available for 300 Yens. I guess they don’t have that in the real Germany, but it’s nice to see how Japan always tries to fuse its culture with the world, Germany being the case in point.
Photo : Chu-Chu Train
Exploring the park, it’s impossible not to admire the scenery that this place has to offer. As it’s located in a highland, I could look down from the park to see Gunma prefecture.
Furthering my journey inside the park, I really felt I was somewhere in one of the villages of Germany. The trees were tall and the weather was chill. No wonder why they created the park in Gunma. It fits my expectation of Germany.
And it was barely half of the park, the other half of the park is used for horse, goat, and donkey ranches. It was so much fun feeding those amazing, friendly creatures. As I walked nearing the ranch, they were so ambitiously excited as if they were dogs, their tails would’ve been swinging rapidly. For the pony and the horse, a ride around the ranch for 600 Yens is available.
I had to say goodbye to all my new best friends. I guess in these times, I feel that living in a ranch somewhere in Germany is more of the way to go.
Getting back to the ‘city hall’, I ordered a Jumbo Frank and it was really, really good. I guess one never really goes to Germany before one eats its sausage, right? ;)